Simplified optical receiver would cut cost of fiber-to-the-home broadband
Researchers at UniversityCollege London (UCL) have successfully created a new optical receiverthat they believe is simple and cheap enough to produce and install on alarge scale. The new technology uses a fraction of the components ofexisting tech, and could provide in-home data transmission rates ofup to 10 Gb/s.
While there have been huge advances inoptical fiber network tech over the years, there's still one bigdifficulty in actually getting those high bandwidths to users, withthe technology terminating at cabinets some way from user's homes.That "last mile" between cabinets and users is usually made up ofcopper cables, with the optical receivers required to extend thetechnology to homes being too expensive to install on a wide scale.
Those copper wires provide an averagedata transmission rate of around 300 Mb/s. While that's adequate formost users' needs in 2016, it'll soon become inadequate, with datademands expected to reach 5-10 Gb/s by 2025.
To improve the situation, the UCL teamworked to create a new optical receiver that's cheap enough toproduce on a large scale, enabling true fiber-to-the-home technologyat speeds of up to 10 Gb/s. The scientists worked to simplify the design of thetech, while improving its sensitivity. The new product is smaller,and contains 75 to 80 percent fewer components than existinghardware, significantly lowering both manufacture and maintenancecosts.
Another big cost in installing suchtech is the laying of the optical fiber cables to each household. Totackle that issue, the team offset the receiver last from thetransmitter laser, allowing a single cable to be used for bothupstream and downstream data.
The tech isn't quire ready for theprime time, with the researchers currently working to evaluate itsreliability. Once that testing is complete, and assuming everythinggoes to plan, the technology is well placed to make a big impact onthe industry.
"Once we've quantified the laserstability, we will be in a strong position to take the receiverdesign through field trials and into commercialization," said lead researcher Dr. Sezer Erkilinc. "It is so exciting to engineer something that may one daybe in everyone's homes and make them a part of the digitalrevolution."
The findings of the study werepublished in the Journal of Lightwave Technology.