| Photonic technologies use light as their basic communications medium. The transmission capacity realised by optical fibres has already revolutionised the long-distance trunk networks interconnecting most countries of the world. Using state of the art technology, a single fibre has the capacity to cary the equivalent of the entire world's telephony traffic. |
The total capacity of all installed fibres will rapidly be filled by an explosion in traffic in multimedia documents, using video, text and images as well as voice. This is to some extent already apparent in the growth in expectations and demand for applications basedon the Internet. The photonic future however goes beyond mere trunk transmission: it reaches into all our homes. Ongoing research is exploring all-optical solutions for providing a broadband network access to every household, and for the high-speed switching necessary for the multimedia broadband services that will soon be in demand. The need to drive down the costs to make broadband solutions economically viable is the key motivator for research in opto-electronic devices, packaging, and network systems alike.