Tag Archive: optical fiber

Continued… DWDM Part IV

To recap, DWDM technology has been developed to increase the capacity of a single fiber SONET/SDH technology, which transmits information via a single channel or wavelength of light via each fiber optic strand. The term “dense” refers to high-wavelength or high-channel count per fiber. In essence, each wavelength represents a different transmission channel and can transmit data at 10 Gbps.

DWDM can offer potentially unlimited bandwidth at multi-gigabit and multi-terra-bit rates by carrying multiple light waves of different frequencies on a single fiber. A single fiber can carry up to 128 wavelengths and researchers/technologists are working on DWDM technologies that could carry more than 1,000 channels within a single fiber.

Operationally, optical network deployments represent a significant CAPEX (Capital Expenditures) investment. However, the rapidly falling cost of raw fiber will accelerate the adoption of this technology.

For today post, I’ll discuss on the capabilities and merits of DWDM as practical considerations for the service providers to deploy DWDM networks.

  • Extendibles:

DWDM is a more cost-effective alternative to SONET/SDH, which employs Time Division Multiplexing (TDM). A highway analogy, where one fiber can be considered as a multi-lane highway, can be used to explain the difference between the two. TDM relates to traffic flow on single lane of the highway. To increase the throughput of autos, one can increase their speed that is equivalent to time multiplexing.

DWDM, on the other hand, relates to the accessing the unused lanes on the highway. Another way to increase auto throughput is to add more lanes that is equivalent to wavelength multiplexing.  DWDM combines multiple optical signals so that they can be amplified as a group and transported over a single fiber to increase capacity. Each signal transmitted can be at a different rate (OC–3/12/24, etc.) and in a different format (SONET/SDH, ATM, IP, WDM, and Gigabit Ethernet, etc.).

[I’ll discuss further on TDM-DWDM analogy with graphical illustrations in future post for a better understanding]

The operations associated with TDM electronic-to-optical and optical-to-electronic somehow rather slow the performance of SONET/SDH networks. These operations convert data signals from the electronic network to optical format, route the signals to their proper destinations within the optical part of the infrastructure, and then convert them back again for their continued journey over the electronic portion of the network.

DWDM technology, on the other hand, employs an Erbium Doped Fiber Optic Amplifier (EDFA) with advanced filtering techniques to amplify optical signals without converting them to electrical signals.DWDM uses Optical Bi-directional Line Switched Ring (OBLSR) topologies to optimize bandwidth capacity of the in-place fiber optic plant and the traffic volumes transported via the Optical Layer. A DWDM infrastructure also increases the distances between network elements – a big benefit for long-distance (long-haul) service providers looking to reduce their initial network investments significantly.

DWDM uses advanced wavelength routing protocols and gigabit routers for provisioning of wavelength or channel capacity. DWDM employs tunable lasers for enabling development of multiple, independent, narrowly spaced transmission channels or wavelengths on a single fiber optic strand.

Source:  DWDM: Technologies and Initiatives by Khoa Duc Tran

To be continued… DWDM Part V – Capabilities and Merits


Continued… DWDM Part III

In my first posting on DWDM (Part I), I briefly discussed how DWDM works and perhaps today I’ll discuss further the way it functions from various angles and examples for clarity purposes.

DWDM System Functions

At its core, DWDM involves a small number of physical-layer functions. These are depicted in figure below, which is similar to figure given in Part I. Figure below shows a DWDM schematic for four channels. Each optical channel occupies its own wavelength (wavelength is expressed (usually in nanometers) as an absolute point on the electromagnetic spectrum. The effective light at a given wavelength is confined narrowly around its central wavelength).

DWDM Functional Schematic

DWDM Functional Schematic

From the above figure (view it from left to right), the DWDM system performs the following main functions:

  • Generating the signal—The source, a solid-state laser, must provide stable light within a specific, narrow bandwidth that carries the digital data, modulated as an analog signal.
  • Combining the signals—Modern DWDM systems employ multiplexers to combine the signals. There is some inherent loss associated with multiplexing and demultiplexing. This loss is dependent upon the number of channels but can be mitigated with optical amplifiers, which boost all the wavelengths at once without electrical conversion.
  • Transmitting the signals—The effects of crosstalk and optical signal degradation or loss must be reckoned with in fiber optic transmission. These effects can be minimized by controlling variables such as channel spacings, wavelength tolerance, and laser power levels. Over a transmission link, the signal may need to be optically amplified.
  • Separating the received signals—At the receiving end, the multiplexed signals must be separated out. Although this task would appear to be simply the opposite of combining the signals, it is actually more technically difficult.
  • Receiving the signals—The demultiplexed signal is received by a photodetector.

In addition to these functions, a DWDM system must also be equipped with client-side interfaces to receive the input signal. This function is performed by transponders. On the DWDM side are interfaces to the optical fiber that links DWDM systems.

As mentioned earlier above and in Part I, optical networks use Dense Wavelength Multiplexing as the underlying carrier. The most important components of any DWDM system are transmitters, receivers, Erbium-doped fiber Amplifiers (EDFA), DWDM multiplexors (aka Mux) and DWDM demultiplexors (aka Demux). The block diagram below gives the structure of a typical DWDM system with these components (view it from right to left).

Block Diagram of a DWDM System

Block Diagram of a DWDM System

Optical Transmission Principles

Optical fiber transmission plays a major role in deciding the throughput of the DWDM network. The DWDM system has an important photonic layer, which is responsible for transmission of the optical data through the network. The following basic principles are necessary for the proper operation of the system.

Channel Spacing
The minimum frequency separation between two different signals multiplexed is known as the Channel spacing. Since the wavelength of operation is inversely proportional to the frequency, a corresponding difference is introduced in the wavelength of each signal. The factors controlling channel spacing are the optical amplifier’s bandwidth and the capability of the receiver in identifying two close wavelengths sets the lower bound on the channel spacing. Both factors ultimately restrict the number of unique wavelengths passing through the amplifier.

Signal Direction
An optical fiber helps transmit signal in both directions. Based on this feature, a DWDM system can be implemented in two

  • Unidirectional: All wavelengths travel in the same direction within the fiber. It is similar to a simplex case. This calls in for laying one another parallel fiber for supporting transmission on the other side.
  • Bi-directional: The channels in the DWDM fiber are split into two separate bands, one for each direction. This removes the need for the second fiber, but, in turn reduces the capacity or transmission bandwidth.

Signal Trace
Signal Trace is the procedure of detecting if a signal reaches the correct destination at the other end. This helps follow the light signal through the whole network. It can be achieved by plugging in extra information on a wavelength, using an electrical receiver to extract if from the network and inspecting for errors. The receiver then reports the signal trace to the transmitter.

Taking into consideration the above two factors, the international bodies have established a spacing of 100GHz to be the worldwide standard for DWDM. This means that the frequency of each signal is less than the rest by atleast 0.1THz.


Introduction to DWDM for Metropolitan Networks

Optical Networking And Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) by Muralikrishna Gandluru

To be continued… DWDM Part IV


Continued… DWDM Part II

Continue from last post on DWDM history, the figure below shows the evolution or progression of the WDM technology that can be seen as an increase in the number of wavelengths accompanied by a decrease in the spacing of the wavelengths. Along with increased density of wavelengths, systems also advanced in their flexibility of configuration, through add-drop functions, and management capabilities.

Evolution of DWDM

Evolution of DWDM

  • Early WDM began in the late 1980’s using the two widely spaced wavelengths in the 1310 nm and 1550 nm (or 850 nm and 1310 nm) regions, sometimes called wideband WDM.
  • The early 1990’s saw a second generation of WDM, sometimes called narrowband WDM, in which two to eight channels were used. These channels were now spaced at an interval of about 400 GHz in the 1550-nm window.
  • By the mid-1990’s, dense WDM (DWDM) systems were emerging with 16 to 40 channels and spacing from 100 to 200 GHz.
  • By the late 1990’s DWDM systems had evolved to the point where they were capable of 64 to 160 parallel channels, densely packed at 50 or even 25 GHz intervals.

Increases in channel density resulting from DWDM technology have had a dramatic impact on the carrying capacity of fiber. In 1995, when the first 10 Gbps systems were demonstrated, the rate of increase in capacity went from a linear multiple of four every four years to four every year as shown in figure below.

Growth In Fiber Capacity

Growth In Fiber Capacity

Source:   Introduction to DWDM for Metropolitan Networks

To be continued… DWDM Part III


My apology for being “off mode” for 2 weeks since my last post on July 22. Last week Fri-Sun, my colleagues and I attended our company’s corporate team building event at Jeram Besu, Pahang (Malaysia). It was an enjoyable event with the main activities of white water rafting and 4WD off-road to Jerembun waterfall (not forget to mention that we indulged ourselves with eating durian, king of fruits).

I was also quite busy lately as I was on DWDM assignment. I take this opportunity to explore DWDM and would like to share the info on this blog. This new topic and other future topics on interesting technology or solution will be posted under the new category of “Next Generation Network (NGN)“.

What on earth is DWDM?

DWDM is a short or an acronym for Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing. DWDM is a fiber-optic transmission technique. It involves the process of multiplexing many different wavelength signals onto a single fiber. So each fiber have a set of parallel optical channels each using slightly different light wavelengths. It employs light wavelengths to transmit data parallel-by-bit or serial-by-character.

In short, DWDM is a technology that uses fiber-optics transmission techniques that employ light wavelengths to transmit data as shown below.
How DWDM works

How DWDM works

Figure above shows a diagram that depicts how DWDM works.  As shown, four incoming sources are:
1. Multiplexed onto one single fiber
2. Transmitted
3. Demultiplexed onto four outgoing fibers (incoming signals are retrieved)

What so special about DWDM?

DWDM is a very crucial component of optical networks that will allow the transmission of data: voice, video-IP, ATM and SONET/SDH respectively, over the optical layer.

This allows service providers to offer the following Triple Play services as IP data over ATM or voice over SONET (or SDH):

  • Video
  • Multimedia
  • E-mail
Development of DWDM Technology
Let’s backtrack a little bit to explore the history of Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) development. Early WDM began in the late 1980s using the two widely spaced wavelengths in the 1310 nm and 1550 nm (or 850 nm and 1310 nm) regions, sometimes called wideband WDM. Figure below shows an example of this simple form of WDM. Notice that one of the fiber pair is used to transmit and one is used to receive. This is the most efficient arrangement and the one most found in DWDM systems.
Example of simple form of WDM with 2 channels

Example of simple form of WDM with 2 channels


  • DWDM: Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing
  • WDM: Wavelength Division Multiplexing
  • NGN: Next Generation Network
  • ATM: Asynchronous transfer mode
  • SONET: Synchronous data transmission on optical media (American National Standards)
  • SDH: Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (international equivalent of SONET)
  • IP: Internet Protocol

Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) by Luc Pelletier & Miguel Pinard
Introduction to DWDM for Metropolitan Networks

To be continued… DWDM Part II

1 visitors online now
0 guests, 1 bots, 0 members
Max visitors today: 6 at 12:25 am +08
This month: 9 at 06-05-2019 05:09 am +08
This year: 34 at 05-13-2019 03:29 am +08
All time: 177 at 01-10-2011 08:28 pm +08