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Faster fibre optics on command

Posted on October 28th, 2011

PILOT PHOTONICS : FIBRE-OPTIC telecommunication networks are the backbone of the internet, and with internet traffic continuing to grow apace these networks are beginning to feel the strain.

“The usable optical fibre bandwidth available to the telecommunications network operators is becoming scarce and in order to meet the bandwidth demand, network operators must either lay new fibres, which are prohibitively expensive, or employ novel techniques to transmit more information in the available bandwidth,” explains Dr Frank Smith, chief technology officer of Pilot Photonics, which has patented a new technology that can do just this.

The company is a recent spin-out from Dublin City University and the Tyndall National Institute in Cork and its technology will allow major network operators, such as Cisco and Alcatel, to dramatically increase their throughput while reducing costs. These operators typically sell their services to organisations such as Eircom and BT.

“Our transceivers can squeeze over 10 times more information into an optical fibre than the transceivers deployed in the network today,” Smyth says. “Our approach, known as multicarrier optical communication, is unique and offers significant benefits over competitive products currently on the market. Rather than sending a single high-speed signal in each channel, it breaks the signal down into a number of slower signals which can then be overlapped and packed much more densely thereby minimising wasted bandwidth. Slower signals also suffer less from transmission impairments so our technique offers optimum performance over a wider range of operating conditions and avoids the cost explosion associated with compensating for transmission impairments.”

Pilot Photonics was incorporated in August last and expects to employ around 12 people when it is fully up and running. The company has received a €500,000 investment from Enterprise Ireland to help it develop its multicarrier transceiver technology and is now looking to raise €1 million to allow it to assemble a team of world-class experts to take the technology from the research lab to market.

© 2011 The Irish Times

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