Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

A boost for optical network efficiency

An EU team has developed ways to exploit the wasted capacity in optical fibre networks. Testing of an indoor combined radio/optical system demonstrated speeds of up to 5.0 Gb/s.
A boost for optical network efficiency
The radio-spectrum band at 60 GHz is licence-free, and offers reasonably large bandwidth for certain applications. In such a context, several ultra-broadband standards have been defined for wireless personal area networks.

Yet the optical fibre used to carry such networks leaves unused capacity. The EU-funded FIRMWARE (Multimode fiber radio technology for cost-efficient indoor mm-wave remote antenna systems) project aimed to develop technologies to utilise this for indoor networks. The research focused on a new photonic array receiver antenna. The purpose was to achieve fast optical networks over indoor distances up to 100 m. Such networks were intended to be low-cost and safe with a low-carbon footprint. Work involved re-purposing a particular standard optical fibre for wireless transmission.

Stages included a proof-of-concept experiment using a radio over fibre scheme, which addressed performance limitations. The resulting transmission of 3.8 Gb/s exceeded the target.

Researchers proposed a converged fibre-wireless network structure, which was expected to support various protocols. The idea was tested using ‘Ethernet passive optical network’ (E-PON) data.

The group designed and built suitable low-cost, millimetre-wave antennas. Another plus was the use of environment-friendly materials.

Work produced a new, spectrally efficient, division multiplexing scheme, based on radio-over-fibre technology. The scheme addressed next-generation wireless data traffic demands.

The team also designed a network topology utilising single mode fibre to multimode fibre feeds. Further proof-of-concept experiments achieved 5.0 Gb/s.

Lastly, the consortium addressed a PON/mm-wave converged topology. Experiments demonstrated a fast transmission rate of over 1 km.

To help share information and transfer knowledge about the project, a university poster day, school open day and public events were held. One notable event saw projects presented to Britain’s House of Parliament and a panel of expert judges.

The FIRMWARE project achieved its goal of developing technologies that maximise the utility of optical networks. The work looks set to bring faster computer networks and more environment-friendly technologies.

Related information


Optical fibre network, ultra-broadband, multimode fibre, radio, photonic array, antenna
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