Published on Nov 30, 2023
It is the nature of modern communications networks to be in a state of ongoing evolution. Factors such as new applications, changing patterns of usage, and redistribution of content make the definition of networks a work in progress.
Nevertheless, we can broadly define the larger entities that make up the global network based on variables such as transport technology, distance, applications, and so on.
Wavelength Division Multiplexing
WDM increases the carrying capacity of the physical medium (fiber) using a completely different method from TDM. WDM assigns incoming optical signals to specific frequencies of light (wavelengths, or lambdas) within a certain frequency band. This multiplexing closely resembles the way radio stations broadcast on different wavelengths without interfering with each other.
Because each channel is transmitted at a different frequency, we can select from them using a tuner. Another way to think about WDM is that each channel is a different color of light; several channels then make up a "rainbow." In a WDM system, each of the wavelengths is launched into the fiber, and the signals are demultiplexer at the receiving end. Like TDM, the resulting capacity is an aggregate of the input signals, but WDM carries each input signal independently of the others.
This means that each channel has its own dedicated bandwidth; all signals arrive at the same time, rather than being broken up and carried in time slots. The difference between WDM and dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) is fundamentally one of only degree. DWDM spaces the wavelengths more closely than does WDM, and therefore has a greater overall capacity. The limits of this spacing are not precisely known, and have probably not been reached, though systems are available in mid-year 2000 with a capacity of 128 lambdas on one fiber.
DWDM has a number of other notable features. These include the ability to amplify all the wavelengths at once without first converting them to electrical signals, and the ability to carry signals of different speeds and types simultaneously and transparently over the fiber (protocol and bit rate independence). DWDM is the clear winner in the backbone.
It was first deployed on long-haul routes in a time of fiber scarcity. Then the equipment savings made it the solution of choice for new long-haul routes, even when ample fiber was available. While DWDM can relieve fiber exhaust in the metropolitan area, its value in this market extends beyond this single advantage. Alternatives for capacity enhancement exist, such as pulling new cable and SONET overlays, but DWDM can do more.
What delivers additional value in the metropolitan market is DWDM's fast and flexible provisioning of protocol- and bit rate-transparent, data-centric, protected services, along with the ability to offer new and higher-speed services at less cost.
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