Communication is the key to survival in these modern times. There are many different mediums for faster communication. However, fiber optic communication is unique. Traditionally, we have electric wires for communication. Fiber optics replaces the electrical connectivity with light having a high travelling speed. So, fiber-optic communication is a method of transmitting information from one place to another by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber. The light forms an electromagnetic carrier wave that is modulated to carry information. First developed in the 1970s, fiber-optics has revolutionized the telecommunications industry and played a major role in the advent of the Information Age. Because of its advantages over electrical transmission, optical fibers have largely replaced copper wire communications in core networks in the developed world.
There have been five generations of Optical Fibers till now. They have mainly progressed in wavelength, rate, and repeater spacing. Here’s a quick look at the generations that have and will change the face of communication.
- Multi – Terabit Optical Networks
Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) paves the way for multi-terabit transmission. The need for increased bandwidth availability has led to the interest in developing multi-terabit optical networks. Researchers are looking at achieving higher bandwidth with 100Gbps. With the continuous reduction in the cost of fiber optic components, the availability of much greater bandwidth in the future is possible.
- Intelligent Optical Transmission Network
Traditional optical networks are unable to adapt to the rapid growth of data services due to the unpredictability of dynamic allocation of bandwidth. They rely mainly on manual configuration of network connectivity, which is time-consuming, and unable to adapt fully to the demands of the modern network. Intelligent optical network is a future trend in optical network development, and will have the ability to adopt to the unpredictability of the bandwidth allocation.
- Polymer Optic Fibers
Polymer optical fibers offer many benefits when compared to other data communication solutions such as copper cables, wireless communication systems, and glass fiber. In comparison to glass optical fibers, polymer optical fibers provide easy and less expensive processing of optical signals and are more flexible.
Improvement in Optical Amplification Technology
Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifier (EDFA) is one of the critical technologies used in optical fiber communication systems. To increase the bandwidth of EDFA, a better gain equalization technology for high accuracy optical amplification will be developed. To achieve a higher output power, high power pumping lasers with excellent optical amplification characteristics and very low noise figures are envisioned to exist in the future.
Presently, optical inter-satellite links and orbit-to-ground links exist, the latter suffering from unfavorable weather conditions. Current research explores optical communication to and from high altitude platforms. High altitude platforms are airships situated above the clouds at heights of 16 to 25 km, where the unfavorable atmospheric impact on a laser beam is less severe than directly above the ground. Optical links between high altitude platforms, satellites, and ground stations are expected to serve as broadband back-haul communication channels if a high-altitude platform functions as a data relay station.
Cable vs Fiber Internet
Indian technology market has witnessed some huge developments in the Internet space in last six months. A trend started by Reliance Jio 4G services took over the market and even forced other telecom operators to step in to the arena of affordable 4G internet services. While other telcos were still figuring out how to deal with Reliance’s dirt cheap internet schemes, the latter also introduced GigaFiber plans, the super-fast internet based on ‘Fiber Optics’ to get the Indian internet space on global scale. However Airtel was quick to follow the steps and introduced Airtel V-Fiber, which is company’s fiber technology aimed to deliver super-fast internet connectivity.
You must be curious what this Fiber Optic term is and how it differs from the traditional cable internet that we commonly have in our homes and workplaces. That’s where we come into the picture to explain about the functionality of this new internet technology, its advantages over the traditional cable internet and what future holds for fiber internet. Let’s find out.
Fiber optic is relatively a new technology in the internet communication field and uses fiber optic cables to transmit data from source to destination. A fiber-optic cable is made up of incredibly thin strands of glass or composite plastic known as optical fibers. The information or data is transmitted over light/optical technology, which requires light to follow the principle of ‘Total Internal Reflection’. The communication suffers if light leaks out, which in this case happens if the light packets are absorbed by the glass strands. As far as conventional cable internet is concerned, this form of communication uses the existing telephone network and requires a cable modem at the user’s end. The modem at user end is connected to cable modem termination system (CMTS) at the operator facility. The data is transferred via coaxial cables, which has a copper core surrounded by dielectric insulator copper shield, and an outer plastic layer.
As data is transmitted over light in form of packets in optic fiber networks, the speed of communication is very fast compared to traditional ADSL broadband. Fiber network allows data to be sent faster over greater distances. However the process of installing a fiber network is more complex and takes longer than the conventional cable network that usually works on telephone lines.
Once again optic fiber wins over cable network in terms of reliability. This is because the data is transmitted over light and not electricity. Therefore the communication is not affected during power outages, or as it usually happens with conventional cable networks upon any physical damage.
As we mentioned that optic fiber network is more complex to install and provides faster and reliable connection, it can be more expensive as compared to conventional cable network. However, the price gap is shrinking due to latest introduction of fiber networks in Indian market by Reliance and Airtel and technology is bound to become more cost-efficient in the near future.
How the Optic Fiber Network boosts the internet
For the Indian Telecom Industry, Optic Fiber has begun the much-needed wave of ‘The Third Age of Connectivity’. Before Optic Fiber was introduced, the Broadband segment was solely dependent on the copper wire. Broadband is defined as always ‘ON’ with specified download speed. And Broadband should be with good Quality of Experience. Lately, there has been a sudden surge by both the Government and Indian telecom operators to use Optic Fiber cables since the future lies here. Driving the Bharat Net project and the Digital India campaign, the Indian Government is advocating the benefits and need for an Optic Fiber era in the Indian Telecom sector. Telecom giants are also acknowledging the fact and themselves laying Optic Fiber ducts to enhance their services and meet the requirements with good quality of the growing Internet user base that India harbors.
Countries in the emerged economies have deployed Optic Fiber much earlier. Not surprisingly, the difference is obvious in the data speeds of the fully-developed nations and India. When it comes to broadband bandwidth and speeds, India is far behind these nations. Indeed, Optic Fiber is the catalyst for change that needs to be inducted into the Indian economy if we wish to stand toe-to-toe with the rest of the fully-developed world.
Aptly termed the ‘Insulator’ for Broadband or Internet, Optic Fiber is capable of providing speeds up to several Gbps (Gigabit per second) and can support multiple devices at one go even to homes – a quality that is still a farfetched idea for Broadband run on older technologies like copper wire. Optic Fiber is designed for more bandwidth and higher speeds. The Optic Fiber cable comprises tens of strands of glass fiber, each no thicker than a human hair and capable of transmitting the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica contents in less than a second. Conversely, copper wire is based on the original telephone network that was upgraded to carry Internet signals and has very limited speed carrying capacity. In essence, Optic Fiber refers to the medium and the technology associated with the transmission of information as light pulses along a fiber made of glass. Since the speed of light is an astounding 300,000 Kms per second, Optic Fiber acts as an amazing medium of transmission. This feature finds wide usage in Optic Fiber communications, where it permits transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths (data rates) than copper wire cables.
Carrying more information than conventional copper wire, Optic Fiber is generally not subject to electromagnetic interference and the need to retransmit signals – a problem that afflicts metal wires excessively. Transmission over an Optic Fiber cable requires repeaters at specific distance intervals. Moreover, the glass fiber requires more protection with an outer cable than copper. Due to these reasons, and since the installation of any new cabling is labour intensive, only a few communities have installed Optic Fiber cables from the telecom company’s branch office to local customers (known as local loops).
Optic Fiber can be used as a medium for telecommunications and computer networking because it is flexible and can be bundled as cables and has a very small footprint. It is especially advantageous for long-distance communications because light propagates through the fiber with little attenuation or weakening compared to electrical cables. A type of fiber known as single mode fiber is used for longer distances while multimode fiber is used for shorter distances. Each fiber can carry many independent channels by using a different wavelength of light, termed wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM). Once installed in users’ homes, Optic Fiber is a better investment in terms of money as well as in the scalability it provides through years of longevity and by meeting the ever increasing data speeds need.
Fibers have multiple uses in remote sensing. In some applications, the sensor is itself an optic fiber. In other cases, fiber is used to connect a non-Optic Fiber sensor to a measurement system. As per the application, fiber may be used because of its small size, or the fact that no electrical power is needed at the remote location, or because many sensors can be multiplexed along the length of a fiber by using different wavelengths of light for each sensor, or by sensing the time delay as light passes along the fiber through each sensor. The time delay can be determined using a device such as an optical time-domain reflectometer.
Besides its abilities, Optic Fiber is a boon for businesses as well. The cliché ‘Time is money’ is apt for the Optic Fiber Network as it can prove to be an extremely valuable investment. Research proves that having fiber makes businesses more innovative. People cut down on travel time to meetings because good quality video conferencing is now accessible for even the smallest businesses. One can speak to colleagues and customers on their laptop as no fancy equipment is required. The consistent speeds provided by fiber allow many people in the office to access the Web at the same time. Available high speed can be effectively extended within the premises over Wi-Fi for multiple users and devices. Faster, more reliable connections to Wi-Fi provides users convenience to use from anywhere in the premises. All this lends itself to better collaboration and ideas sharing.
Previously, smaller organizations believed fiber wouldn’t suit their businesses, as it is better equipped or suitable for more creative, technological or larger businesses. In today’s time, the belief seems unfounded as a majority of businesses are investing in fiber and the investment is resulting in increased efficiency and monetary savings. If India aims to achieve its ambitious agenda of having a digital economy, Optic Fiber is essential. For that to happen, both businesses and consumers need to connect over a common platform of Optic Fiber. Before usage, it is imperative to make people aware of what Optic Fiber has in store for them and how their lives can be transformed by using Optic Fiber.
Since Optic Fiber is the ‘present’ and the ‘future’, it is necessary to embrace this change as quickly as possible. Even though India struggles with providing faster internet connections to people, The ISP’s has definitely helped Indians get access to high speed internet highway network. Telcos have also been pushing for the introduction of optic fiber cables for data connectivity that has contributed to a higher average last quarter. However, the present speed still seems very slow when global average is at 7Mbps. Furthermore, when the Government of India wants to make the country at par with developed nations, then it must take stricter actions to help improve the adoption of the internet in India first. To some extent, the success story of the Indian economy will depend upon this.
Optical Fiber Cable market has huge opportunity in India
Today, a variety of industries including the medical, military, telecommunications, industrial, data storage, networking, and broadcast industries are able to apply and use fiber optic technology in a variety of applications. Additionally, it is indeed relevant to say that the telecommunications industry is the dominant user of optical fiber technology because the demand is high. In India, this demand has been on the rise and is being driven by factors like growth of fixed broadband, replacement of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s (BSNL) aging copper network with fiber optic cables (FOC), building an alternate network for National Defense, wireless backhaul network upgrade, and the need for higher speeds for 3G & broadband wireless access networks.
According to a recently published report by TechSci Research, the OFC market in India is projected to reach USD424 million by 2020 on account of growing adoption of smartphones, broadband services and 4G rollout. Indian consumers are increasingly shifting towards internet driven applications such as video on demand, HDTV, etc., which is boosting investments towards OFC network expansion throughout the country. In comparison to copper cables, OFC technology delivers much higher bandwidth, which has become extremely vital for supporting burgeoning data traffic.
A huge number of working class population in India own high-end smartphones supporting various technologies such as Wi-Fi, 3G, etc. This class of consumers, in particular, is boosting the demand for on-the-go high speed data services. As a result, the government of India has announced various projects to build and strengthen OFC network for addressing the country’s increasing data transmission requirements. In addition, digitization of cable TV network has been mandated in the country, which is further propelling the demand for OFC network. Currently, the major users of OFCs include telecom service providers, internet service providers, multiple system operators, Cable TV operators, defense agencies and PSUs among others.
“Government of India, on its part, is doing every bit to contribute towards expanding telecom infrastructure. This is evident from government’s participation in various telecom support projects such as National Optic Fiber Network (NOFN) to connect Gram Panchayats in rural pockets of India with a principal telecom network, for high speed data transmission and internet services. The NOFN project is expected to be one of the major drivers for OFC installations in India over the next five years.” said Mr. Karan Chechi, Research Director with TechSci Research, a global market research and consulting company.
The recent published report has evaluated future growth potential of OFC market in India and provides statistics and information on market structure, industry behavior and trends. The report includes market projections and demand forecasting. The report is intended to provide cutting-edge market intelligence and help decision makers in taking sound investment decisions. Besides, the report also identifies and analyzes the emerging trends along with essential drivers, challenges and opportunities in India’s OFC market.
Optical fiber cable market to witness a huge growth in near future because of the tremendous growth in telecom industry in India. There are new opportunities for mobile network space, especially for a single account holder to operate his mobile phone and surf the internet from another country. There is demand for fiber-optic lines in tier 3, 4, 5 and 6 Indian cities, as tier 1 cities have been wired up and tier 2 were almost being completed. Similarly, we see more opportunities in setting up fiber-optic network in the Indian government’s plan to build 100 Smart Cities. The subsea cable capacity has expanded with the use of advanced super-speed computers.