domingo, 30 de mayo de 2010

Introducing DWDM

Introducing DWDM

The following discussion provides some background on why dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) is an important innovation in optical networks and what benefits it can provide. We begin with a high-level view of the segments of the global network and the economic forces driving the revolution in fiber optic networks. We then examine the differences between traditional time-division multiplexing (TDM) and wavelength division multiplexing (WDM). Finally, we explore the advantages of this new technology.

Global Network Hierarchy

It is the nature of modern communications networks to be in a state of ongoing evolution. Factors such as new applications, changing patterns of usage, and redistribution of content make the definition of networks a work in progress. Nevertheless, we can broadly define the larger entities that make up the global network based on variables such as transport technology, distance, applications, and so on.
One way of describing the metropolitan area network (MAN) would be to say that it is neither the long-haul nor the access parts of the network, but the area that lies between those two (see Figure 1-1).

Figure 1-1: Global Network Hierarchy


Long-haul networks are at the core of the global network. Dominated by a small group of large transnational and global carriers, long-haul networks connect the MANs. Their application is transport, so their primary concern is capacity. In many cases these networks, which have traditionally been based on Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) or Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) technology, are experiencing fiber exhaust as a result of high bandwidth demand.

At the other end of the spectrum are the access networks. These networks are the closest to the end users, at the edge of the MAN. They are characterized by diverse protocols and infrastructures, and they span a broad spectrum of rates. Customers range from residential Internet users to large corporations and institutions. The predominance of IP traffic, with its inherently bursty, asymmetric, and unpredictable nature, presents many challenges, especially with new real-time applications. At the same time, these networks are required to continue to support legacy traffic and protocols, such as IBM's Enterprise System Connection (ESCON).

Between these two large and different networking domains lie the MANs. These networks channel traffic within the metropolitan domain (among businesses, offices, and metropolitan areas) and between large long-haul points of presence (POPs). The MANs have many of the same characteristics as the access networks, such as diverse networking protocols and channel speeds. Like access networks, MANs have been traditionally SONET/SDH based, using point-to-point or ring topologies with add/drop multiplexers (ADMs).
The MAN lies at a critical juncture. On the one hand, it must meet the needs created by the dynamics of the ever-increasing bandwidth available in long-haul transport networks. On the other hand, it must address the growing connectivity requirements and access technologies that are resulting in demand for high-speed, customized data services.

There is a natural tendency to regard the MAN as simply a scaled-down version of the long-haul network. It is true that networks serving the metropolitan area encompass shorter distances than in the long-haul transport networks. Upon closer examination, however, these differences are superficial compared to other factors. Network shape is more stable in long-haul, while topologies change frequently in the MAN. Many more types of services and traffic types must be supported in MANs, from traditional voice and leased line services to new applications, including data storage, distributed applications, and video. The long-haul, by contrast, is about big pipes.
Another important way in which metropolitan networks today differ from trunk-oriented long haul networks is that they encompass a collection of low bit-rate asynchronous and synchronous transmission equipment, short loops, small cross-sections, and a variety of users with varying bandwidth demands. These fundamental differences between the two types of networks have powerful implications for the requirements in the metropolitan domain. Protocol and speed transparency, scalability, and dynamic provisioning are at least as important as capacity, which rules in the long-haul market.

The preceding breakdown of the global network represents a somewhat simplified view. In reality, the lines between the domains are not always so clear-cut. Long-haul and metropolitan networks are sometimes not clearly delineated; the same holds true for the access and metropolitan domains.
Furthermore, other views of the global network exist. One, for example, defines the access network as part of, rather than separate from, the MAN, while also including enterprise connectivity in the metropolitan domain. In this view, the metropolitan market breaks down as follows:

Economic Forces

As we enter the twenty-first century, it goes without saying that information services have permeated society and commerce. Information, while still a tool, has become a commodity in itself. Yet the universal acceptance and ubiquitous adoption of information technology systems has strained the backbones on which they were built. High demand—coupled with high usage rates, a deregulated telecommunications environment, and high availability requirements—is rapidly depleting the capacities of fibers that, when installed 10 years ago, were expected to suffice for the foreseeable future.

Bandwidth Demand

Figure 1-2: Data Traffic Overtakes Voice Traffic

At the same time that network traffic volume is increasing, the nature of the traffic itself is becoming more complex. Traffic carried on a backbone can originate as circuit based (TDM voice and fax), packet based (IP), or cell based (ATM and Frame Relay). In addition, there is an increasing proportion of delay sensitive data, such as voice over IP and streaming video.
In response to this explosive growth in bandwidth demand, along with the emergence of IP as the common foundation for all services, long-haul service providers are moving away from TDM based systems, which were optimized for voice but now prove to be costly and inefficient. Meanwhile, metropolitan networks are also experiencing the impact of growing congestion, as well as rapidly changing requirements that call for simpler and faster provisioning than is possible with older equipment and technologies. Of key importance in the metropolitan area is the growth in storage area networks (SANs), discussed in the "Storage Area Networks" section.
While the demand for bandwidth is driven largely by new data applications, Internet usage, and the growth in wireless communications, two additional factors come into play: competition and network availability.
There are two main effects on the industry from competition:
  • Enhanced services are created by newcomers trying to compete with incumbents. In the metropolitan market, for example, there are broadband wireless and DSL services to homes and small and medium-sized business, high-speed private line and VPN services to corporations, and transparent LAN services to enterprise network customers.
  • New carriers coming onto the scene create new infrastructure so that they do not have to lease from existing operators. Using this strategy, they have more control over provisioning and reliability.

Options for Increasing Carrier Bandwidth

Faced with the challenge of dramatically increasing capacity while constraining costs, carriers have two options: Install new fiber or increase the effective bandwidth of existing fiber.
Laying new fiber is the traditional means used by carriers to expand their networks. Deploying new fiber, however, is a costly proposition. It is estimated at about $70,000 per mile, most of which is the cost of permits and construction rather than the fiber itself. Laying new fiber may make sense only when it is desirable to expand the embedded base.
Increasing the effective capacity of existing fiber can be accomplished in two ways:
  • Increase the bit rate of existing systems.
  • Increase the number of wavelengths on a fiber.

Increase the Bit Rate

Using TDM, data is now routinely transmitted at 2.5 Gbps (OC-48) and, increasingly, at 10 Gbps (OC-192); recent advances have resulted in speeds of 40 Gbps (OC-768). The electronic circuitry that makes this possible, however, is complex and costly, both to purchase and to maintain. In addition, there are significant technical issues that may restrict the applicability of this approach. Transmission at OC-192 over single-mode (SM) fiber, for example, is 16 times more affected by chromatic dispersion than the next lower aggregate speed, OC-48. The greater transmission power required by the higher bit rates also introduces nonlinear effects that can affect waveform quality. Finally, polarization mode dispersion, another effect that limits the distance a light pulse can travel without degradation, is also an issue. These characteristics of light in fiber are discussed further in the "Optical Fibers" section.

Increase the Number of Wavelengths

In this approach, many wavelengths are combined onto a single fiber. Using wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technology several wavelengths, or light colors, can simultaneously multiplex signals of 2.5 to 40 Gbps each over a strand of fiber. Without having to lay new fiber, the effective capacity of existing fiber plant can routinely be increased by a factor of 16 or 32. Systems with 128 and 160 wavelengths are in operation today, with higher density on the horizon. The specific limits of this technology are not yet known.

Time-Division Multiplexing

Time-division multiplexing (TDM) was invented as a way of maximizing the amount of voice traffic that could be carried over a medium. In the telephone network before multiplexing was invented, each telephone call required its own physical link. This proved to be an expensive and unscalable solution. Using multiplexing, more than one telephone call could be put on a single link.
TDM can be explained by an analogy to highway traffic. To transport all the traffic from four tributaries to another city, you can send all the traffic on one lane, providing the feeding tributaries are fairly serviced and the traffic is synchronized. So, if each of the four feeds puts a car onto the trunk highway every four seconds, then the trunk highway would get a car at the rate of one each second. As long as the speed of all the cars is synchronized, there would be no collision. At the destination the cars can be taken off the highway and fed to the local tributaries by the same synchronous mechanism, in reverse.
This is the principle used in synchronous TDM when sending bits over a link. TDM increases the capacity of the transmission link by slicing time into smaller intervals so that the bits from multiple input sources can be carried on the link, effectively increasing the number of bits transmitted per second (see Figure 1-4).

Figure 1-4: TDM Concept



Figure 1-5: SONET TDM


Wavelength Division Multiplexing
WDM increases the carrying capacity of the physical medium (fiber) using a completely different method from TDM. WDM assigns incoming optical signals to specific frequencies of light (wavelengths, or lambdas) within a certain frequency band. This multiplexing closely resembles the way radio stations broadcast on different wavelengths without interfering with each other (see Figure 1-7). Because each channel is transmitted at a different frequency, we can select from them using a tuner. Another way to think about WDM is that each channel is a different color of light; several channels then make up a "rainbow."

Figure 1-7: Increasing Capacity with WDM


In a WDM system, each of the wavelengths is launched into the fiber, and the signals are demultiplexed at the receiving end. Like TDM, the resulting capacity is an aggregate of the input signals, but WDM carries each input signal independently of the others. This means that each channel has its own dedicated bandwidth; all signals arrive at the same time, rather than being broken up and carried in time slots.
The difference between WDM and dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) is fundamentally one of only degree. DWDM spaces the wavelengths more closely than does WDM, and therefore has a greater overall capacity.The limits of this spacing are not precisely known, and have probably not been reached, though systems are available in mid-year 2000 with a capacity of 128 lambdas on one fiber. DWDM has a number of other notable features, which are discussed in greater detail in the following chapters. These include the ability to amplify all the wavelengths at once without first converting them to electrical signals, and the ability to carry signals of different speeds and types simultaneously and transparently over the fiber (protocol and bit rate independence).
TDM and WDM Compared
SONET TDM takes synchronous and asynchronous signals and multiplexes them to a single higher bit rate for transmission at a single wavelength over fiber. Source signals may have to be converted from electrical to optical, or from optical to electrical and back to optical before being multiplexed. WDM takes multiple optical signals, maps them to individual wavelengths, and multiplexes the wavelengths over a single fiber. Another fundamental difference between the two technologies is that WDM can carry multiple protocols without a common signal format, while SONET cannot. Some of the key differences between TDM and WDM are graphically illustrated in Figure 1-8.

Figure 1-8: TDM and WDM Interfaces


Value of DWDM in the Metropolitan Area

DWDM is the clear winner in the backbone. It was first deployed on long-haul routes in a time of fiber scarcity. Then the equipment savings made it the solution of choice for new long-haul routes, even when ample fiber was available. While DWDM can relieve fiber exhaust in the metropolitan area, its value in this market extends beyond this single advantage. Alternatives for capacity enhancement exist, such as pulling new cable and SONET overlays, but DWDM can do more. What delivers additional value in the metropolitan market is DWDM's fast and flexible provisioning of protocol- and bit rate-transparent, data-centric, protected services, along with the ability to offer new and higher-speed services at less cost.
Potential providers of DWDM-based services in metropolitan areas, where abundant fiber plant already exists or is being built, include incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs), inter-exchange carriers (IXCs), Internet service providers (ISPs), cable companies, private network operators, and utility companies. Such carriers can often offer new services for less cost than older ones. Much of the cost savings is due to reducing unnecessary layers of equipment, which also lowers operational costs and simplifies the network architecture.
Carriers can create revenue today by providing protocol-transparent, high-speed LAN and SAN services to large organizations, as well as a mixture of lower-speed services (Token Ring, FDDI, Ethernet) to smaller organizations. In implementing an optical network, they are ensuring that they can play in the competitive field of the future.

Requirements in the Metropolitan Area

The requirements in the metropolitan market may differ in some respects from those in the long-haul network market, yet metropolitan networks are still just a geographically distinguished segment of the global network. What happens in the core must be supported right to the edge. IP, for example, is the dominant traffic type, so interworking with this layer is a requirement, while not ignoring other traffic (TDM). Network management is now of primary concern, and protection schemes that ensure high availability are a given.
Key requirements for DWDM systems in the MAN include the following:
  • Multiprotocol support
  • Scalability
  • Reliability and availability
  • Openness (interfaces, network management, standard fiber types, electromagnetic compatibility)
  • Ease of installation and management
  • Size and power consumption
  • Cost effectiveness


From both technical and economic perspectives, the ability to provide potentially unlimited transmission capacity is the most obvious advantage of DWDM technology. The current investment in fiber plant can not only be preserved, but optimized by a factor of at least 32. As demands change, more capacity can be added, either by simple equipment upgrades or by increasing the number of lambdas on the fiber, without expensive upgrades. Capacity can be obtained for the cost of the equipment, and existing fiber plant investment is retained.
Bandwidth aside, DWDM's most compelling technical advantages can be summarized as follows:
In the following sections we discuss some additional advantages, including migration from SONET and reliability.


Figure 1-10: Direct SONET Interfaces from Switch to DWDM


Optical signals become attenuated as they travel through fiber and must be periodically regenerated in core networks. In SONET/SDH optical networks prior to the introduction of DWDM, each separate fiber carrying a single optical signal, typically at 2.5 Gbps, required a separate electrical regenerator every 60 to 100 km (37 to 62 mi). As additional fibers were "turned up" in a core network, the total cost of regenerators could become very large, because not only the cost of the regenerators themselves, but also the facilities to house and power them, had to be considered. The need to add regenerators also increased the time required to light new fibers
The upper part of Figure 1-11 shows the infrastructure required to transmit at 10 Gbps (4 x OC-48 SR interfaces) across a span of 360 km (223 mi) using SONET equipment; the lower part of the figure shows the infrastructure required for the same capacity using DWDM. While optical amplifiers could be used in the SONET case to extend the distance of spans before having to boost signal power, there would still need to be an amplifier for each fiber. Because with DWDM all four signals can be transported on a single fiber pair (versus four), fewer pieces of equipment are required. Eliminating the expense of regenerators (RPTR) required for each fiber results in considerable savings.
Figure 1-11: DWDM Eliminates Regenerators


Figure 1-12: Upgrading with DWDM


Although amplifiers are of great benefit in long-haul transport, they are often unnecessary in metropolitan networks. Where distances between network elements are relatively short, signal strength and integrity can be adequate without amplification. But with MANs expanding in deeper into long-haul reaches, amplifiers will become useful.

Enhancing Performance and Reliability

Today's metropolitan and enterprise networks support many mission-critical applications that require high availability, such as billing and accounting on mainframes or client-server installations in data centers. Continuous backups or reliable decentralized data processing and storage are essential. These applications, along with disaster recovery and parallel processing, have high requirements for performance and reliability. As enterprises out source data services and inter-LAN connectivity, the burden of service falls on the service provider rather than on the enterprise.
With DWDM, the transport network is theoretically unconstrained by the speed of available electronics. There is no need for optical-electrical-optical (OEO) conversion when using optical amplifiers, rather than regenerators, on the physical link. Although not yet prevalent, direct optical interfaces to DWDM equipment can also eliminate the need for an OEO function.
While optical amplifiers are a major factor in the ability to extend the effective range of DWDM, other factors also come into play. For example, DWDM is subject to dispersion and nonlinear effects. These effects are further discussed in the "Optical Fibers" section.

Network Management Capability

One of the primary advantages offered by SONET technology is the capability of the data communication channel (DCC). Used for operations functions, DCCs ship such things as alarms, administration data, signal control information, and maintenance messages. When SONET is transported over DWDM, DCCs continue to perform these functions between SONET network elements. In addition, a DWDM system can have its own management channel for the optical layer. For out-of-band management, an additional wavelength (for example, a 33rd wavelength in a 32-wavelength system) is used as the optical supervisory channel (OSC). For inband management, a small amount of bandwidth (for example, 8 kHz) is reserved for management on a per-channel basis.

Additional Benefits

The shift in the makeup of traffic from voice to data has important implications for the design and operation of carrier networks. The introduction of cell-switching technologies such as ATM and Frame Relay demonstrates the limitations of the narrow-band, circuit-switched network design, but the limits of these technologies are being reached. Data is no longer an add-on to the voice-centric network, but is central. There are fundamentally different requirements of a data-centric network; two of these are the aggregation model and the open versus proprietary interfaces.
Aggregation in a voice-centric network consists of multiplexing numerous times onto transmission facilities and at many points in the network. Aggregation in a data-centric network, by contrast, tends to happen at the edge. With OC-48 (and higher) interfaces readily available on cell and packet switches, it becomes possible to eliminate costly SONET multiplexing and digital cross-connect equipment. OC-48 connections can interface directly to DWDM equipment.
Finally, service providers and enterprises can respond more quickly to changing demands by allocating bandwidth on demand. The ability to provision services rapidly by providing wavelength on demand creates new revenue opportunities such as wavelength leasing (an alternative to leasing of physical links or bit rate-limited tunnels), disaster recovery, and optical VPNs.
Luis A. Araque D.
C.I. 18089210
EES Seccion 2

Wavelength-division multiplexing

Wavelength-division multiplexing

In fiber-optic communications, wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) is a technology which multiplexes multiple optical carrier signals on a single optical fiber by using different wavelengths (colours) of laser light to carry different signals. This allows for a multiplication in capacity, in addition to enabling bidirectional communications over one strand of fiber. This is a form of frequency division multiplexing (FDM) but is commonly called wavelength division multiplexing.[1]
The term wavelength-division multiplexing is commonly applied to an optical carrier (which is typically described by its wavelength), whereas frequency-division multiplexing typically applies to a radio carrier (which is more often described by frequency). However, since wavelength and frequency are inversely proportional, and since radio and light are both forms of electromagnetic radiation, the two terms are equivalent in this context.
WDM systems

A WDM system uses a multiplexer at the transmitter to join the signals together, and a demultiplexer at the receiver to split them apart. With the right type of fiber it is possible to have a device that does both simultaneously, and can function as an optical add-drop multiplexer. The optical filtering devices used have traditionally been etalons, stable solid-state single-frequency Fabry–Pérot interferometers in the form of thin-film-coated optical glass.
The concept was first published in 1970, and by 1978 WDM systems were being realized in the laboratory. The first WDM systems only combined two signals. Modern systems can handle up to 160 signals and can thus expand a basic 10 Gbit/s fiber system to a theoretical total capacity of over 1.6 Tbit/s over a single fiber pair.
WDM systems are popular with telecommunications companies because they allow them to expand the capacity of the network without laying more fiber. By using WDM and optical amplifiers, they can accommodate several generations of technology development in their optical infrastructure without having to overhaul the backbone network. Capacity of a given link can be expanded by simply upgrading the multiplexers and demultiplexers at each end.
This is often done by using optical-to-electrical-to-optical (O/E/O) translation at the very edge of the transport network, thus permitting interoperation with existing equipment with optical interfaces.
Most WDM systems operate on single mode fiber optical cables, which have a core diameter of 9 µm. Certain forms of WDM can also be used in multi-mode fiber cables (also known as premises cables) which have core diameters of 50 or 62.5 µm.
Early WDM systems were expensive and complicated to run. However, recent standardization and better understanding of the dynamics of WDM systems have made WDM less expensive to deploy.
Optical receivers, in contrast to laser sources, tend to be wideband devices. Therefore the demultiplexer must provide the wavelength selectivity of the receiver in the WDM system.
WDM systems are divided in different wavelength patterns, conventional or coarse and dense WDM. Conventional WDM systems provide up to 16 channels in the 3rd transmission window (C-band) of silica fibers around 1550 nm. DWDM uses the same transmission window but with denser channel spacing. Channel plans vary, but a typical system would use 40 channels at 100 GHz spacing or 80 channels with 50 GHz spacing. Some technologies are capable of 25 GHz spacing (sometimes called ultra dense WDM). New amplification options (Raman amplification) enable the extension of the usable wavelengths to the L-band, more or less doubling these numbers.
CWDM in contrast to conventional WDM and DWDM uses increased channel spacing to allow less sophisticated and thus cheaper transceiver designs. To again provide 16 channels on a single fiber CWDM uses the entire frequency band between second and third transmission window (1310/1550 nm respectively) including both windows (minimum dispersion window and minimum attenuation window) but also the critical area where OH scattering may occur, recommending the use of OH-free silica fibers in case the wavelengths between second and third transmission window shall also be used. Avoiding this region, the channels 31, 49, 51, 53, 55, 57, 59, 61 remain and these are the most commonly used.
WDM, DWDM and CWDM are based on the same concept of using multiple wavelengths of light on a single fiber, but differ in the spacing of the wavelengths, number of channels, and the ability to amplify the multiplexed signals in the optical space. EDFA provide an efficient wideband amplification for the C-band, Raman amplification adds a mechanism for amplification in the L-band. For CWDM wideband optical amplification is not available, limiting the optical spans to several tens of kilometres.
Coarse WDM

Originally, the term "coarse wavelength division multiplexing" was fairly generic, and meant a number of different things. In general, these things shared the fact that the choice of channel spacings and frequency stability was such that erbium doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs) could not be utilized. Prior to the relatively recent ITU standardization of the term, one common meaning for coarse WDM meant two (or possibly more) signals multiplexed onto a single fiber, where one signal was in the 1550 nm band, and the other in the 1310 nm band.
In 2002 the ITU standardized a channel spacing grid for use with CWDM (ITU-T G.694.2), using the wavelengths from 1270 nm through 1610 nm with a channel spacing of 20 nm. (G.694.2 was revised in 2003 to shift the actual channel centers by 1, so that strictly speaking the center wavelengths are 1271 to 1611 nm.[2]) Many CWDM wavelengths below 1470 nm are considered "unusable" on older G.652 specification fibers, due to the increased attenuation in the 1270-1470 nm bands. Newer fibers which conform to the G.652.C and G.652.D standards, such as Corning SMF-28e and Samsung Widepass nearly eliminate the "water peak" attenuation peak and allow for full operation of all 20 ITU CWDM channels in metropolitan networks. For more information on G.652.C and .D compliant fibers please see the links at the bottom of the article.
The Ethernet LX-4 10 Gbit/s physical layer standard is an example of a CWDM system in which four wavelengths near 1310 nm, each carrying a 3.125 gigabit-per-second (Gbit/s) data stream, are used to carry 10 Gbit/s of aggregate data.
The main characteristic of the recent ITU CWDM standard is that the signals are not spaced appropriately for amplification by EDFAs. This therefore limits the total CWDM optical span to somewhere near 60 km for a 2.5 Gbit/s signal, which is suitable for use in metropolitan applications. The relaxed optical frequency stabilization requirements allow the associated costs of CWDM to approach those of non-WDM optical components.
CWDM is also being used in cable television networks, where different wavelengths are used for the downstream and upstream signals. In these systems, the wavelengths used are often widely separated, for example the downstream signal might be at 1310 nm while the upstream signal is at 1550 nm.
An interesting and relatively recent development relating coarse WDM is the creation of GBIC and small form factor pluggable (SFP) transceivers utilizing standardized CWDM wavelengths. GBIC and SFP optics allow for something very close to a seamless upgrade in even legacy systems that support SFP interfaces. Thus, a legacy switch system can be easily "converted" to allow wavelength multiplexed transport over a fiber simply by judicious choice of transceiver wavelengths, combined with an inexpensive passive optical multiplexing device.
Passive CWDM is an implementation of CWDM that uses no electrical power. It separates the wavelengths using passive optical components such as bandpass filters and prisms. Many manufacturers are promoting passive CWDM to deploy fiber to the home.
Dense WDM

Dense wavelength division multiplexing, or DWDM for short, refers originally to optical signals multiplexed within the 1550 nm band so as to leverage the capabilities (and cost) of erbium doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs), which are effective for wavelengths between approximately 1525-1565 nm (C band), or 1570-1610 nm (L band). EDFAs were originally developed to replace SONET/SDH optical-electrical-optical (OEO) regenerators, which they have made practically obsolete. EDFAs can amplify any optical signal in their operating range, regardless of the modulated bit rate. In terms of multi-wavelength signals, so long as the EDFA has enough pump energy available to it, it can amplify as many optical signals as can be multiplexed into its amplification band (though signal densities are limited by choice of modulation format). EDFAs therefore allow a single-channel optical link to be upgraded in bit rate by replacing only equipment at the ends of the link, while retaining the existing EDFA or series of EDFAs through a long haul route. Furthermore, single-wavelength links using EDFAs can similarly be upgraded to WDM links at reasonable cost. The EDFAs cost is thus leveraged across as many channels as can be multiplexed into the 1550 nm band.
DWDM systems
At this stage, a basic DWDM system contains several main components:
  1. A DWDM terminal multiplexer. The terminal multiplexer actually contains one wavelength converting transponder for each wavelength signal it will carry. The wavelength converting transponders receive the input optical signal (i.e., from a client-layer SONET/SDH or other signal), convert that signal into the electrical domain, and retransmit the signal using a 1550 nm band laser. (Early DWDM systems contained 4 or 8 wavelength converting transponders in the mid 1990s. By 2000 or so, commercial systems capable of carrying 128 signals were available.) The terminal mux also contains an optical multiplexer, which takes the various 1550 nm band signals and places them onto a single fiber (e.g. SMF-28 fiber). The terminal multiplexer may or may not also support a local EDFA for power amplification of the multi-wavelength optical signal.
  2. An intermediate line repeater is placed approx. every 80 – 100 km for compensating the loss in optical power, while the signal travels along the fiber. The signal is amplified by an EDFA, which usually consists of several amplifier stages.
  3. An intermediate optical terminal, or Optical Add-drop multiplexer. This is a remote amplification site that amplifies the multi-wavelength signal that may have traversed up to 140 km or more before reaching the remote site. Optical diagnostics and telemetry are often extracted or inserted at such a site, to allow for localization of any fiber breaks or signal impairments. In more sophisticated systems (which are no longer point-to-point), several signals out of the multiwavelength signal may be removed and dropped locally.
  4. A DWDM terminal demultiplexer. The terminal demultiplexer breaks the multi-wavelength signal back into individual signals and outputs them on separate fibers for client-layer systems (such as SONET/SDH) to detect. Originally, this demultiplexing was performed entirely passively, except for some telemetry, as most SONET systems can receive 1550-nm signals. However, in order to allow for transmission to remote client-layer systems (and to allow for digital domain signal integrity determination) such demultiplexed signals are usually sent to O/E/O output transponders prior to being relayed to their client-layer systems. Often, the functionality of output transponder has been integrated into that of input transponder, so that most commercial systems have transponders that support bi-directional interfaces on both their 1550-nm (i.e., internal) side, and external (i.e., client-facing) side. Transponders in some systems supporting 40 GHz nominal operation may also perform forward error correction (FEC) via 'digital wrapper' technology, as described in the ITU-T G.709 standard.
  5. Optical Supervisory Channel (OSC). This is an additional wavelength usually outside the EDFA amplification band (at 1510 nm, 1620 nm, 1310 nm or another proprietary wavelength). The OSC carries information about the multi-wavelength optical signal as well as remote conditions at the optical terminal or EDFA site. It is also normally used for remote software upgrades and user (i.e., network operator) Network Management information. It is the multi-wavelength analogue to SONET's DCC (or supervisory channel). ITU standards suggest that the OSC should utilize an OC-3 signal structure, though some vendors have opted to use 100 megabit Ethernet or another signal format. Unlike the 1550 nm band client signal-carrying wavelengths, the OSC is always terminated at intermediate amplifier sites, where it receives local information before retransmission.
The introduction of the ITU-T G.694.1 frequency grid in 2002 has made it easier to integrate WDM with older but more standard SONET/SDH systems. WDM wavelengths are positioned in a grid having exactly 100 GHz (about 0.8 nm) spacing in optical frequency, with a reference frequency fixed at 193.10 THz (1552.52 nm)[3]. The main grid is placed inside the optical fiber amplifier bandwidth, but can be extended to wider bandwidths. Today's DWDM systems use 50 GHz or even 25 GHz channel spacing for up to 160 channel operation [4].
DWDM systems have to maintain more stable wavelength or frequency than those needed for CWDM because of the closer spacing of the wavelengths. Precision temperature control of laser transmitter is required in DWDM systems to prevent "drift" off a very narrow frequency window of the order of a few GHz. In addition, since DWDM provides greater maximum capacity it tends to be used at a higher level in the communications hierarchy than CWDM, for example on the Internet backbone and is therefore associated with higher modulation rates, thus creating a smaller market for DWDM devices with very high performance levels. These factors of smaller volume and higher performance result in DWDM systems typically being more expensive than CWDM.
Recent innovations in DWDM transport systems include pluggable and software-tunable transceiver modules capable of operating on 40 or 80 channels. This dramatically reduces the need for discrete spare pluggable modules, when a handful of pluggable devices can handle the full range of wavelengths.
Wavelength converting transponders
At this stage, some details concerning Wavelength Converting Transponders should be discussed, as this will clarify the role played by current DWDM technology as an additional optical transport layer. It will also serve to outline the evolution of such systems over the last 10 or so years.
As stated above, wavelength converting transponders served originally to translate the transmit wavelength of a client-layer signal into one of the DWDM system's internal wavelengths in the 1550 nm band (note that even external wavelengths in the 1550 nm will most likely need to be translated, as they will almost certainly not have the required frequency stability tolerances nor will it have the optical power necessary for the system's EDFA).
In the mid-1990s, however, wavelength converting transponders rapidly took on the additional function of signal regeneration. Signal regeneration in transponders quickly evolved through 1R to 2R to 3R and into overhead-monitoring multi-bitrate 3R regenerators. These differences are outlined below:
Retransmission. Basically, early transponders were "garbage in garbage out" in that their output was nearly an analogue 'copy' of the received optical signal, with little signal cleanup occurring. This limited the reach of early DWDM systems because the signal had to be handed off to a client-layer receiver (likely from a different vendor) before the signal deteriorated too far. Signal monitoring was basically confined to optical domain parameters such as received power.
Re-time and re-transmit. Transponders of this type were not very common and utilized a quasi-digital Schmitt-triggering method for signal clean-up. Some rudimentary signal quality monitoring was done by such transmitters that basically looked at analogue parameters.
Re-time, re-transmit, re-shape. 3R Transponders were fully digital and normally able to view SONET/SDH section layer overhead bytes such as A1 and A2 to determine signal quality health. Many systems will offer 2.5 Gbit/s transponders, which will normally mean the transponder is able to perform 3R regeneration on OC-3/12/48 signals, and possibly gigabit Ethernet, and reporting on signal health by monitoring SONET/SDH section layer overhead bytes. Many transponders will be able to perform full multi-rate 3R in both directions. Some vendors offer 10 Gbit/s transponders, which will perform Section layer overhead monitoring to all rates up to and including OC-192.
The muxponder (from multiplexed transponder) has different names depending on vendor. It essentially performs some relatively simple time division multiplexing of lower rate signals into a higher rate carrier within the system (a common example is the ability to accept 4 OC-48s and then output a single OC-192 in the 1550 nm band). More recent muxponder designs have absorbed more and more TDM functionality, in some cases obviating the need for traditional SONET/SDH transport equipment.
Reconfigurable Optical Add-drop Multiplexer (ROADM)
As mentioned above, intermediate optical amplification sites in DWDM systems may allow for the dropping and adding of certain wavelength channels. In most systems deployed as of August 2006 this is done infrequently, because adding or dropping wavelengths requires manually inserting or replacing wavelength-selective cards. This is costly, and in some systems requires that all active traffic be removed from the DWDM system, because inserting or removing the wavelength-specific cards interrupts the multi-wavelength optical signal.
With a ROADM, network operators can remotely reconfigure the multiplexer by sending soft commands. The architecture of the ROADM is such that dropping or adding wavelengths does not interrupt the 'pass-through' channels. Numerous technological approaches are utilized for various commercial ROADMs, the trade off being between cost, optical power, and flexibility.
C.I.  18089210