8 February 2011 12:40:18 PM
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By David Chaffee
OFC/NFOEC has become the innovative center for optical communications throughout the years. It has been the forum as the industry has engineered its way from fiber optic streams operating at 45 million bits per second to those now beginning to operate at 100 billion bits per second and beyond. Through the power of wavelength division multiplexing, we have gone from being able to send one beam of light over a hair-thin optical fiber to being able to send 80 or more photonic information streams over the same fiber because innovators are able to connect the dots.
The history of fiber optics as manifested by OFC /NFOEC demonstrates that optical has overcome every telecom barrier thrown at it thus far. First it was the ability to transmit information commercially at short distances in the network, then long distances, then under the oceans of the world. Most recently, it has been to the residence and now millions of such homes are fiber connected. Yet as Internet demands continue to increase, there is an enormous amount of infrastructure that needs to be installed and upgraded with fiber optics. The challenge is immense.
We sometimes forget that all telecom traffic –whether it be wireless or wireline; enterprise or consumer; voice, data or video; cell phone, smart phone or landline—has to be aggregated and go through a conduit that can process it. All telecom traffic is good for fiber optics because that is the medium that can handle it all. With wireless comes wireless backhaul, with YouTube comes the greater need for capacity, with data centers come the need for enormous data flow in cramped conditions, with the sheer number of bits flowing over the Internet comes the basic and essential need for fiber optics. OFC/NFOEC is the barometer for where optical communications is now and where it is going.
Yet the mood, the tone, the character of a particular show is influenced by how well the broader industry itself is doing. Fortunately for all of us the show this year will be bolstered by a favorable industry mood. Fiber optics, once again, is on the rise.
Founder/CEO, Chaffee Fiber Optics