We live in an information age and need constant access to our data, be it via the internet or across our corporate campus. We are currently being asked for faster and more reliable connectivity between the users and the residence of the data which can often prove problematic.
To increase capacity we could purchase more managed data circuits from connectivity providers, but the overhead of the management decreases flexibility and increases costs which is not ideal. If the required connectivity is on our own campus environment, we could install more fibre cabling but this can involve large scale construction and isn’t very economical.
We could expand system bit rate to multiplex more signals but this is also expensive and requires changing all of your electronics within your network. Another option is wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) which exploits the ability of multiple frequencies of light to be transmitted simultaneously down a single optical fibre and is proven to be cost effective.
How does WDM work?
Multiplexing offers you a high density, scalable solution since each physical pair of fibres can be used to carry more than one wavelength and therefore expand your data capacity without installing more fibre. This means that you can, with the use of special optical transceivers, connect multiple network devices to a multiplexor which then connects to a single pair of fibres and, in essence, sends different channels of data down the same fibre.
There are two main types of WDM equipment:
- CWDM passive solutions carry up to 16 different wavelengths (colours of light) down a single fibre connection. The primary 8 channels operate in the 1500nm range and the secondary 8 channels operate in the 1300nm range with channel spacing at 20nm.
- DWDM passive solutions carry up to 88 different wavelengths down an individual fibre connection. The channel spacing is typically 100GHz (0.8nm) and resides in the 1530 to 1560nm band. A significant benefit is that a DWDM unit can carry more signals over a greater distance.
This makes multiplexing the ideal solution for university campuses, business parks, council offices, MSP’s and any enterprise with multiple locations. You are now able to drive the existing fibre connections harder as you are using the WDM technology to provide more channels, at the same data rates that were available when single devices were connected. Customers can use WDM technology when using non-managed or dark fibre solutions provides by service providers, however in recent times these types of services are in decline.
The ability to simply install a pre-coded, 100% compatible WDM optic in a current networking device and then connect this, along with other devices, to a single pair of fibres offers a huge cost saving and allows far greater utilisation of the existing infrastructure. In effect, each device has the bandwidth and connectivity of a dedicated link but this link is shared with the other devices, which is the beauty of the WDM solution.
WDM can be used by anyone who wants to increase the bandwidth of data transmissions but wish to avoid the cost of leasing additional dedicated fibre runs between LAN sites. Mobile network operators may use it to carry mobile voice and data traffic between their radio base stations and their switching centres and broadband providers can boost the amount of traffic between local aggregation points, such as BT’s local exchanges, and their core networks.
Multiplexing can help organisations to solve a number of their business challenges such as:
- Multiplying bandwidth
- Eliminating the need to invest in additional fibre
- Having a scalable solution
- Carrying more signals over a greater distance
- Reducing circuit complexity
- Saving time
- Lowering consumable costs
In summary, if your organisation currently has access to dedicated fibre between locations and needs to run additional services without the cost of new fibre infrastructure then WDM technology will meet these requirements.
ProLabs are a leading distributor of multiplexing solutions. Find out how they offer an extensive and expanding range of network infrastructure and connectivity solutions to meet the needs of your environment.