Skip to Main Content
Orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) is a modulation technique which is now used in most new and emerging broadband wired and wireless communication systems because it is an effective solution to intersymbol interference caused by a dispersive channel. Very recently a number of researchers have shown that OFDM is also a promising technology for optical communications. This paper gives a tutorial overview of OFDM highlighting the aspects that are likely to be important in optical applications. To achieve good performance in optical systems OFDM must be adapted in various ways. The constraints imposed by single mode optical fiber, multimode optical fiber and optical wireless are discussed and the new forms of optical OFDM which have been developed are outlined. The main drawbacks of OFDM are its high peak to average power ratio and its sensitivity to phase noise and frequency offset. The impairments that these cause are described and their implications for optical systems discussed.