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Optical Networks

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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.

An optical network is a network in which the physical layer technology is fiber-optic cable. Cable trunks are interconnected with optical cross-connects (OXCs), and signals are added and dropped at optical add/drop multiplexers (OADMs). The holy grail is an all-optical network. In this scheme, an optical wavelength (which acts like a data circuit) stays in the optical realm from end to end.

In contrast, most optical networks have implemented OEO (optical-electrical-optical) switches, which convert optical signals to electrical signals for processing, and then back again to optical signals for the next leg of the trip. The optical-to-electrical conversion adds delay and introduces possible errors as the signals are converted, moved up the protocol stack, and processed by software or firmware. The all-optical network avoids this process. At this writing, components that make the all-optical network a reality are emerging. These are discussed next.

This topic continues in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications" with a discussion of the following:

  • WDM (wavelength division multiplexing) and DWDM (dense wavelength division multiplexing) systems
  • Lambda (infrared wavelength circuits)
  • SONET/SDH optical networking standards
  • Internet architecture and optical network cores
  • All-optical network components
  • Feeder networks such as SONET, cable networks, PONs (passive optical networks), and wireless networks
  • OXC (optical cross-connects)-- optical switches
  • Waveguide switches using bubbles, thermo-optic switching, or liquid crystals
  • Optical network control plane
  • MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching)
  • LSRs (label switching routers)
  • Multiprotocol Lambda Switching
  • Generalized MPLS or GMPLS
  • Sycamore's ODSI (Optical Domain Service Interconnect)

Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.
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