What is Optical Networking? - Neos Networks

What is Optical Networking?

What is optical networking technology?

Optical networking is a system of communication that uses pulses of light, instead of pulses of electricity. These light pulses are created by a laser or LED light source, and send information between two or more points.

This is the fastest way to transmit and receive data, and an optical network allows reliable electronic communications to take place over extremely long distances. Also, when compared with copper, an optical network is far less prone to external inference and can achieve substantially higher bandwidth speeds.

What are the different types of optical networks available?

There are currently two types of optical networks, fibre optic networks and free-space optic networks.

A fibre optic network, as the name suggests, uses optical fibre to carry the data signal between the light source and the receiver.

A free-space optic network transmits data between two line-of-sight points across air, space or a vacuum. No physical connection is needed between the transmitter and the receiver, as the light simply travels through free space.

What is optical fibre cable in networking?

Optical fibre cable is constructed from bundles of individual optical fibres. Each individual fibre is the medium that the light travels through, divided into multiple optical wavelengths. Optical fibre cable consists of two constituent parts, the core and the cladding.

The core is the innermost layer of the fibre. This is the part that the light travels through and is typically made of glass.

The cladding is the material wrapped around the core. It can be constructed from glass or plastic, and has a different density to the core. Its purpose is to prevent the light from escaping. When light inside the fibre hits the cladding, it is reflected back into the core in a process known as total internal reflection, and continues along its journey.

What are the different components of an optical fibre network system?

In addition to the optical fibre cable, an optical fibre network system requires the following components for it to function:

  • A laser or LED light source, to create and transmit the signal
  • A multiplexer, so multiple pieces of data can be sent over the same wire
  • Amplifiers, to allow the signal to travel longer distances by increasing its strength
  • Repeaters may also be needed if the data has to travel across extreme distances. Repeaters are cheaper than amplifiers and act by receiving and then re-broadcasting the signal
  • A photodiode receiver, to capture the signal at the end of its journey

The light source transmitting the signal and the receiver capturing it are both known as transceivers. These transceivers can be tuned down to reduce their performance. This reduces the total bandwidth capacity, but it also allows the signal to be carried over a greater distance without any noticeable degradation.

What are the advantages of an optical fibre network?

Optical fibre networking provides many advantages for businesses, particularly when compared to copper wire. Benefits include:

  • Higher speeds, with faster data transfer than copper cable can achieve
  • Better signal quality, because there’s no electromagnetic interference between adjacent optical fibres
  • Easy scalability, as new equipment can be installed over the original fibre, and wavelengths can be turned on or off as required
  • Heightened security, because data is transmitted as packets of light, which makes it much more difficult for hackers to intercept
  • Long-term savings, as there’s no signal loss, which makes fibre networks simpler and cheaper to operate and maintain

What is next-generation optical networking?

Next-generation optical networks are focused on ultra-high data throughput to support ever-increasing traffic demands, as well as improving energy efficiency and simplifying network design and deployment. These next-generation technologies will support transmission rates of multiple terabits of data per second, with the ability to scale up beyond 10Tbps and travel distances of up to 1,000km.

Convergence and access will form the foundations of next-generation optical networking. With lower latency, enhanced reliability and heightened security, these networks will be ideally suited to handle the heavy demands of edge networking, 8K video streaming services, and the metaverse as it merges with industry 4.0. In addition, next-generation optical networks will become a prominent focus of 5G and 6G mobile networks, due to the demand for extreme bandwidth, coverage and device synchronisation.

What optical networking solutions do Neos Networks offer?

Our optical networking and wavelength services deliver low latency, high capacity connectivity solutions to businesses across the UK. They are designed for flexibility, and deployed to meet your exacting connectivity needs.

We can provide you with a choice of optical connectivity bandwidths, from 10Gbps, 100Gbps and 400Gbps, with a focus on high capacity, long distance networks, and support for Ethernet, Fiberchannel and Infiniband. Whatever your optical networking requirements, it’s likely that we can help.

Why not explore our full range of business telecoms services and solutions? Or perhaps discuss your needs with one of our experts. Our comprehensive product portfolio, combined with our strategic approach, ensures you’ll achieve the best possible outcome for your business.

You might also like

  • Page

What are ROADMs?

  • Article

A guide to Optical connectivity

  • Optical
  • Article

Fibre optics: what is it and how does it work?

  • Optical

We can connect you anywhere in the UK

Discover our network reach

Check your connectivity