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Fiber Transmission Rates Now Moving into Terabit per Second Territory

September 20, 2016 By Molly White in

News of a promising new method for boosting optical fiber transmission rates comes from Technical University of Munich. Potentially rates could be increased up to 30%, researchers said.

A team of researchers used a new modulation technique and recorded unprecedented fiber data transmission capacity and spectral efficiency in an optical communications field trial in Germany recently, according to Sept. 16 research news from Technical University of Munich.

Field trial participants Nokia Bell Labs, Deutsche Telekom T-Labs and TUM achieved 1 terabit per second (1 Tbps) transmission rates over a Deutsche Telekom optical fiber network during the field trial, which was conducted under the Safe and Secure European Routing (SASER) project.

Boosting Fiber Transmission Rates


The field trial demonstrates that fiber network performance and flexibility can be maximized when transmission rates adapt dynamically to channel and traffic conditions, TUM highlights. One Tbps is close to the theoretical maximum information transfer rate for that type of channel and approaches fiber optics’ Shannon Limit, which was discovered in 1948 by Claude Shannon while he was working for Bell Labs, the research team noted.

The research team employed what’s known as Probabilistic Constellation Shaping (PCS) to increase data transmission capacity over a given channel. The idea is to tailor transmission amplitude to ideally fit the transmission channel.

“The results indicate that PCS could be used to further enhance optical communications technologies by increasing capacity, reach and flexibility over deployed fiber infrastructures,” said Deutsche Telekom CTO and technology director Telekom Deutschland Bruno Jacobfeuerborn in the news report.

“Information theory is the mathematics of digital technology, and during the Claude E. Shannon centenary year 2016 it is thrilling to see his ideas continue to transform industries and society,” added Prof. Gerhard Kramer, Head of the Institute for Communications Engineering at TUM.

“Probabilistic constellation shaping, an idea that won a Bell Labs Prize, directly applies Shannon’s principles and lets fiber optic systems transmit data faster, further, and with unparalleled flexibility,” Kramer continued.

Nokia Bell Labs president and corporate CEO Marcus Weldon noted that optical networks will not only need to support burgeoning data traffic but also will need to adapt dynamically to channel conditions and traffic demand.

¨Probabilistic Constellation Shaping offers great benefits to service providers and enterprises by enabling optical networks to operate closer to the Shannon Limit to support massive data center inter-connectivity and provide the flexibility and performance required for modern networking in the digital era,” he said