Learning the ABCs of Fiber Optics

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Already known as the state’s first gigabit city, Wilson, North Carolina, is now also that state’s first city to offer a “Fiber Optics Basics” training course at its local community college. Last month, Wilson Greenlight, the city’s community-owned, fiber-to-the-home provider, partnered with Wilson Community College to launch the pilot 10-week program.

 

A Long-Held Dream

The fiber optic training course is the answer to a long-held dream for Gene Scott, Wilson Greenlight’s director of outside plant. Frustrated by having highly-skilled jobs to offer that he could not fill, Scott found that standard fiber training courses cost thousands of dollars that few young people could afford.

By partnering with Wilson Community College, Scott and Wilson Greenlight have turned the dream into a reality. The 10-week program on the basic ins and outs of fiber optics will include hands-on training where students can see, touch, connect and maybe even learn to splice optical fiber. The cost for the course – a very reasonable $140.

 

Experts Share Knowledge/Expertise

Visiting experts from around North Carolina and the U.S. are volunteering to teach their specialty. For example, OFS expert Mark Boxer is teaching three classes covering topics ranging from the history of light wave transmission to the design of various fiber optic networks.

In one of these classes, Boxer featured a very special guest, Dr. Peter Charles Schultz. Dr. Schultz is a co-inventor of fiber optics and the recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation presented by President Bill Clinton (the highest technology award of the U.S. Government). Dr. Schultz also serves as a senior advisor to and board member of OFS. During the class, Dr. Schultz described his experiences in developing fiber optics, something that few people at the time understood or valued. When asked his advice to others who might seek to blaze a new trail in the digital frontier, Schultz answered, “Be brave!”

 

Training for Today and Tomorrow

Other courses in the program range from how to prepare, splice and connect fiber optic cables to fiber optic safety. Instructors will expose students to various types of fiber networks, the basics on how to design a fiber-to-the-home network, how to maintain outside plant infrastructure and even how to budget and read engineering design prints.

The long-range plan is to offer a two-year partnership between a local high school and the community college. Students would leave high school with a two-year certificate in an advanced degree and qualify for higher-paying jobs after graduation. One added advantage would be to pique students’ interest in tackling a four-year college degree in new fields like fiber network management

 

Celebrating Women and Girls in Science

Today the United Nations, its partners and women and girls around the world are marking the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

 

Recent studies suggest that 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will have jobs that do not yet exist. While more girls are attending school than ever before, girls are significantly underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects in many settings. They also appear to lose interest in STEM subjects as they reach adolescence. In addition, less than 30 percent of researchers worldwide are women.

 

As a step forward in reversing these trends, the April 2018 National Math and Science Initiative’s “Yes, She Did” campaign honored female STEM inventors. During the campaign, teachers, students, grandmothers and education enthusiasts voted fiber optic cable as the most impactful woman-influenced innovation.

 

One of the women highlighted in the campaign is Shirley Jackson, the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the first African-American woman to be awarded the National Medal of Science. She is credited with scientific research that enabled the invention of such things as the portable fax, touch-tone telephone, solar cells and fiber optic cable.

 

“It’s madness that women aren’t always recognized for their STEM contributions,” the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) wrote in introducing its social media audiences to the women behind eight highly impactful innovations. In addition to fiber optic cable, NMSI highlighted the women behind the circular saw, Laserphaco probe, dishwasher, Kevlar® Fiber, modern home security system, computer programming and NASA’s space bumper.

 

“Fiber optic cable shrunk the global marketplace and now everything’s connected real-time to be faster, better, stronger,” said NMSI Chief Information Officer Rick Doucette.

 

On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s change the trends on women in science and technology. Join us in celebrating women and girls who are leading innovation and call for actions to remove all barriers that hold them back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiber to the Home Growth Keeps Exploding

The growth in Fiber to the Home (FTTH) just keeps exploding. In fact, for the first time ever, optical fiber passed DSL in home usage during 2018. Fiber is now the second most-frequent connection for North American home Internet.

And FTTH is also the second most-often-used, fixed broadband connection medium in North America. A newly-issued report from the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) and RVA, LLC featured these statistics.

Fiber Passes xDSL

As of September 2018, the report found that all-fiber access networks surpassed xDSL connections. Almost 60 million homes were FTTH service capable and 23.8 million homes were already connected. These totals represent an increase of 22% from 2017 in terms of “homes marketed.” According to RVA, “homes marketed” depicts market potential more meaningfully than “homes passed” by fiber.

Unsurprisingly, 40.8 million of these homes are in the United States. Another 5.6 million homes are in Canada, 13.1 million in Mexico and 350,000 in the Caribbean.

In terms of the United States, new homes marketed hit a record high of 5.9 million in 2018. Of the 40.8 million homes marketed, the report calls 39.2 million “unique.” This term refers to homes that do not have more than one all-fiber operator seeking their business. Overall. FTTH connects 18.4 million homes in the U.S. Tier 1 telco operators account for 72.6% of these connections. Tier 2 and 3 operators handle 10.3%, and cable operators account for 5.5% of U.S. FTTH connections.

Canada Picks up the Pace

Canadian operators may be rolling out optical fiber faster than U.S. companies, at least in terms of homes marketed compared to total homes. However, FTTH still has a way to go to threaten hybrid fiber/coax (HFC). HFC still delivers slightly more than 50% of broadband connections in North America and FTTH provides not quite 25%.

Fiber is on Fire

According to Lisa R. Youngers, president and CEO of FBA, “The fiber industry is on fire. Fiber holds the key for next-generation connectivity, from 5G to smart cities to the Internet of Things (IOT). This research and analysis helps keep the industry, consumers and policymakers informed about FBA’s progress toward a better-connected future.”

Improving Capacity, Reach and Economics with Coherent Transport

Today, coherent transport technology enables speeds of 40 and 100 Gb/s over legacy fiber networks. However, emerging fundamental limitations in spectral efficiency and un-regenerated reach will soon begin to strain the economics of the internet. Backbone traffic is currently growing at a 30-50 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), but consumers are reluctant to pay higher fees. This situation means that both cloud providers and traditional network operators must carry significantly greater traffic to maintain the same revenue. This requirement, in turn, means that technology must achieve the increasingly difficult task of driving the marginal cost-per-bit of long haul transport still lower.

 

Given these growth projections and a slowdown in achievable spectral efficiency, providers have a choice to either install fiber pairs more often or use denser modulation formats. In fact, both will likely be used and current models show that higher optical-to-signal-noise (OSNR) can reduce the cost per bit by avoiding expensive regeneration.

 

A recent white paper by Robert Lingle, Alan McCurdy and Kasyapa Balemarthy of OFS explores how a new generation of low-loss, large-area fibers can help network operators to better manage these emerging limitations while also enabling even higher data rates up to 400 Gb/s and beyond.

 

To access this white paper, please go here. 

How to Speak “Fiber Geek” Article 1 – Bandwidth Drivers and Standards

Over the past 30 years, optical fiber and fiber optic cable have become increasingly durable and user friendly. At the same time, the use of fiber optics has exploded with many more workers now handling both fiber and cable.

 

However, while these individuals may understand the How-Tos of optical fiber, they may lack knowledge of the essential fiber optic Whys. To learn these critical rules, you must become a full-fledged “Fiber Geek.” And, because technology and applications are rapidly evolving, achieving true “fiber geekdom” is an ongoing process.

 

This first in a series of articles will help readers understand some secondary fiber specifications to begin climbing the “Fiber Geek” ladder. In this article, we focus on the continuing demand for bandwidth and how the need for even greater bandwidth is on the horizon. In addition, we also examine ways that this need can be satisfied. Finally, we consider the importance of industry standards in setting network performance levels..

 

To access this article and begin the journey toward becoming a “Fiber Geek,” please go here. 

OFS LaserWave® FLEX WideBand Multimode Fiber Next-Generation Multimode Technology

Data centers and enterprise networks continue to require ever-increasing speeds. Yesterday’s 10 Gbps networks are rapidly being replaced by 40 and 100 Gbps speeds, and 400 Gbps networks are on the horizon. How can today’s network designers best support this increasing demand for bandwidth?

 

TIA has standardized a new multimode fiber to support short wavelength division multiplexing (SWDM). Referred to in the industry as “wideband” multimode optical fiber, this new fiber type extends the ability of conventional OM4 fiber to support multiple wavelengths. Wideband optical fiber will maintain the cost advantages of multimode fiber for short-distance applications by supporting duplex fiber links at speeds up to 100 Gbps and 400 Gbps eight-fiber links.

 

OFS’ LaserWave® FLEX WideBand Multimode Optical Fiber is designed to support today’s high speed 850 nm-based systems and tomorrow’s multi-wavelength systems. Optimized for SWDM, OFS WideBand Optical Fiber is the best choice for short-reach enterprise and data center applications.

 

For the latest WHITE PAPER on LaserWave FLEX WideBand Optical Fiber, please go here.