"Industry first" distributed PMD analyzer pinpoints optical network problems, simulates repair effect

January 15, 2009--EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering says it has achieved a breakthrough for characterizing polarization mode dispersion (PMD) in a high-speed optical network with the launch of its new distributed PMD analyzer. The device quantifies PMD as it accumulates along an entire optical fiber network instead of producing a simple total PMD value.

Jan 15th, 2009

January 15, 2009--EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering Inc. (Quebec City, Canada) says it has achieved a breakthrough for characterizing polarization mode dispersion (PMD) in high-speed optical networks with the launch of its new FTB-5600 Distributed PMD Analyzer. This field-ready, single-ended test system promises network operators a far deeper understanding of their system performance when looking to upgrade a fiber optic network to 10, 40 or even 100 Gbit/s.

EXFO says the FTB-5600 enables quantification of PMD as it accumulates along an entire optical network, whereas traditional PMD analyzers provide only a total PMD value for an entire network. Thus, network operators can now accurately measure PMD distribution for each fiber section--as an absolute PMD contribution or as a percentage of overall PMD. With extremely accurate pinpointing of the major PMD contributors, operators can easily identify problem areas in their networks and carry out targeted repair and reconstruction.

The FTB-5600 also allows on-screen simulation, enabling users to visualize the potential impact on total PMD of replacing a high-PMD section. The device's patent-pending test method shares common functionalities with optical time-domain reflectometers (OTDR), says EXPO, mainly through its way of precisely identifying splice locations--and thus it enables operators to easily perform local upgrades.

"The massive bandwidth upgrade that is currently underway by network operators is generating acute PMD issues for fiber that was previously deployed in the ground," said Etienne Gagnon, EXFO's Vice-President of Product Development and Marketing. "EXFO's ground-breaking, distributed PMD analyzer will allow operators to manage their fiber plants much more efficiently, enabling them to make better decisions when upgrading their networks. The potential benefits for these operators to use existing fiber, instead of laying down new fiber for network upgrades, amount to savings in time and cost."

PMD, a phenomenon inherent to optical fiber and components, causes statistical spreading of light pulses as they travel along a network which degrades the quality of the transmission signal and thus limits the transmission rates carried by optical networks.

For more information, see EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering's website.

Posted by Barbara G. Goode, barbarag@pennwell.com.

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