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Fiber optic communication - A technology coming of age

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1 Author(s)
Personick, S.D. ; Bell Labs., Holmdel, NJ

In a little over ten years, lightwave communication using optical fibers has progressed from a laboratory proposal to a near commercial reality. Losses in optical fiber waveguides have been reduced from hundreds of dB/Km in the early seventies to less than 1 dB/km at some wavelengths today. Bandwidths of multimode fibers can now exceed 1 GHz in km lengths. Strengths in kilometer length fibers have been increased to hundreds of KPSI (more than steel). Cables containing hundreds of fibers, multiple fiber splices, and single fiber connectors have been developed. Lasers which had lifetimes measured in minutes or hours in the early seventies now have extrapolated lifetimes of over a million hours. New material systems which can use the lower loss longer wavelength regions of the optical spectrum are evolving. Meanwhile, prototype systems carrying voice, data, and video services have been placed in service for commercial telephone and military applications. We can anticipate the widespread use of optical fibers on a routine basis beginning in the early eighties. Along with this will come reduced costs for existing services and the introduction of new services made more economical by this new transmission medium.

Published in:

Communications Society Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 2 )