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Networking The Internet

Irish Gov't Invests In Color-Coded Fiber Optics 129

Posted by timothy
from the can-envy-without-wanting dept.
c0mpliant writes "The Irish government has invested a further €5 million, after already having invested €5 million one year ago, in a new system of fiber optics which heralds an era of virtualization of fiber networks, using color coding to enable multiple fiber providers to serve businesses and homes, often on a single strand of fiber. The technology, which has already sparked interest from companies such as BT and IBM, is already in its first phase and boasts an impressive 2.5 terabytes capacity, double the capacity of the London phone system. The company behind the technology, Intune Technology, is comprised of a group of ex-UCD photonics researchers and has been around since 1999 and are based in Dublin. The project is set to be completed by 2020."
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Irish Gov't Invests In Color-Coded Fiber Optics

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  • They are going to be quite interesting colours, indeed. Fashionable, I presume.
    • by JunkmanUK (909293)

      Well, that and the first €5m leave them needing only another €6.7m to supply a full truecolour selection.

    • by shnull (1359843)
      Ofcourse the only purpose of this is to get faster to blasphemers so they can be put on trial by fire before the Irish inquisition. After all if they burn they were innocent ?
  • by noidentity (188756) on Friday July 16, 2010 @03:58AM (#32924060)

    The technology, which has already sparked interest from companies such as BT and IBM, is already in its first phase and boasts an impressive 2.5 terabytes capacity, double the capacity of the London phone system.

    Meh, my hard drive can store almost that much already.

    • by Krneki (1192201) on Friday July 16, 2010 @04:08AM (#32924084)

      The technology, which has already sparked interest from companies such as BT and IBM, is already in its first phase and boasts an impressive 2.5 terabytes capacity, double the capacity of the London phone system.

      Meh, my hard drive can store almost that much already.

      Indeed

      All you need now is a pigeon to send the data.

      Eat that, you drunk handless dancers.

    • by prionic6 (858109)

      double the capacity of the London phone system.

      How much is it in Libraries of Congress?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Muad'Dave (255648)

      Assuming those 3 loops in the picture are 300 km per east-west leg (the max width of Ireland is 280km) including the north-south parts of the loop, the total fiber length is 6 * 300km = 1800km = 1800000m. The speed of light in fiber is approximately 200e6 m/s vs. 300e6 m/s for a vacuum. That makes the total fiber 'length' about 9ms. At 2.5 TB/s, all of the fiber only contains about 22.5GB at any one instant.

  • About time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jaggeh (1485669) on Friday July 16, 2010 @04:00AM (#32924066)

    It really is about time the irish government invested in improving connectivity. we are so far behind the average we may aswell be hand delivering packets.

    Maybe now i can get an affordable internet connection.

    • Unfortunately, no. That would require investing in fiber to the home in the last mile, which requires a great deal more money than a paltry 5 million, and which incumbents will do everything they can to prevent from happening. At least until the copper lines degrade to complete uselessness, which won't be for a few more decades.
    • by Kentaree (1078787)
      LTE rollouts likely in the next year. I know it's no substitute for a proper wired connection, but it's a damn sight better than what's available in most places here at the moment.
      • UPC are in the process of rolling out fiber across Dublin. The time-lines are similar to Blizzard expansions (soon) but last I heard they were doing Dun Laoghaire. I recently got UPC TV into my gaff, and it came with one of them new-fangled wall connections with TV and fiber internet outputs. I had called them about a year ago when I moved to the area asking about internet (ultimately went went with BT (now vodafone)) but at the time they said my area was on the list but they didn't know when. Hopefully tha

    • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

      by rawler (1005089)

      Why hand-carry when you can just use the protocols of pigeon-carried-ip?

      Good throughput, albeit a bit high in packet-loss and poor latency.

      http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2549.html [faqs.org]

    • by sjames (1099)

      Don't feel too bad, in the U.S. the government 'invested' in improving connectivity but didn't require any actual results from the open ended grant, so we got nothing.

  • Terminology (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fridaynightsmoke (1589903) on Friday July 16, 2010 @04:11AM (#32924092) Homepage

    I assume that by 'colour coding' what the summary actually means is Frequency Division Multiplexing, which isn't exactly new.

    Reading TFA it looks to me like a situation of "we've 'invented' this amazing technology, give us money". That may be unfair I admit. What IS interesting is the idea of the fibre being shared by competing telcos. Has that been done before?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Bugamn (1769722)
      Ah, I thought it was about painting red the wire that I should cut.
      • by TheLink (130905)
        No it's about putting zillions of connections on the same wire, so that when you cut the wire with your backhoe, suddenly very many CTOs realize that the 3 different ISPs providing them redundant links are redundant in the wrong way... :)
      • by sjames (1099)

        Painting the roses red?

    • by Zocalo (252965)

      What IS interesting is the idea of the fibre being shared by competing telcos. Has that been done before?

      All the time. On pretty much any major civil engineering project where you have are going to have large scale free wireless (airports, ports and other large commercial buildings) the normal model would be for the developer to install a fibre optic network then offer to lease bandwidth to the wireless service providers at a small price. That usually results in telcos sharing the same multi-core fibre

    • Re:Terminology (Score:5, Informative)

      by pehrs (690959) on Friday July 16, 2010 @04:32AM (#32924178)

      What IS interesting is the idea of the fibre being shared by competing telcos. Has that been done before?

      Yes, it has. Selling wavelengths in dark fiber is very common, and companies frequently buy part of lines from eachother. Submarine cables are frequently owned by several companies.

      On a level closer to the customer there exists a (in Sweden) functional business model where a company owns the line to the customer and creates a market where different ISP's can provide services to the customer. OpenNet is one of more well known providers using this business model in Sweden.

      • by Xarius (691264)

        This is pretty much how the ADSL market works in the UK. BT own almost all of the infrastructure and lease lines to people. Any ISP is free to offer ADSL internet over these lines.

        • You have 4 options in the UK

          Copper - almost always owned by BT, whoever you buy the service from

          Local loop unbundled ISP - Has their own equipment at the exchange and delivers over the same copper ...(rare)

          Cable - almost always Virgin Media (they bought all the amalgamated Cable operators ...)

          Satellite - NB Sky (The only satellite broadcaster based in the UK) offer broadband ... over Copper using BT's infrastructure

      • >>>(in Sweden) functional business model where a company owns the line to the customer and creates a market where different ISP's can provide services to the customer.
        >>>

        So what happens when you have a major company (like Comcast, Cox, or other cable company) that wants to lease the whole line from 10 megahertz upto 10,000 megahertz to supply their TV, internet, and on-demand services? Where does that leave room for any competing companies?

        • by grumling (94709)

          Fiber to the premises is almost always an "all or nothing" service. This MAY be why this story is so interesting, that someone is leasing wavelengths to a building. But from the very sketchy info given it sounds more like a typical MAN with updated hardware. They didn't say anything that indicated they were providing last mile termination to this network, only backbone services.

          This article from Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] gives a great break down of the costs associated with building out a 100% fiber network (FTTH) and i

    • by pspahn (1175617)
      I briefly worked for Lucent in the late 90's and remember hearing about this during some watercooler talk. IIRC this came from Bell Labs... namesake of Alexander Graham Bell... a Scot.
    • Yeah, their "innovation" looks oddly like a network device that uses existing techniques; but asserts itself to have slightly more robust integrated VLAN-esque features.

      I'm not really in the market for fiber stuff on the high end, so I don't know if people are being shafted by the incumbent vendors and forced to buy more Us of expensive boxes to get this featureset; but their innovation doesn't sound like it is on the optics side...
    • Yes... but its more like 1 telco rents a pair or fiber from another. Theres all sorts of shenanigans that go on as well. The owner of the pair can do things like have 1000ft of coiled copper wire spliced in inside their remote to make data speeds lower or just "accidentally" unplugging one of the competing companies pair or fiber. I can't imagine all the sorts of stuff they could pull if they are actually inside the the same strand as you.
    • by grumling (94709)

      We lease several wavelengths from Level 3 for parts of our backbone. I don't know if any others are in use on the fiber, but that's not our concern, and we hand off in a communications hut out in the middle of nowhere.

    • by cupantae (1304123)

      It's important to note that the govt is extremely unpopular right now, so they tend to sensationalise pretty much everything they do. Apart from that, Ireland is a country of people who don't expect much, so if there's something coming in that's, say, almost as good as London, we go mad for it.

      That's my experience, anyway.

    • by woogal1 (1858352)
      the technology is called OBS (optical burst switching) which is the optical equivalent of Dynamic Spectrum Allocation of the wireless world. OBS has been the holy grail of networking for 20 years but has only recently been cracked by Intune. OBS enables the creation of optical traffic paths in nano-seconds or the equivalent time it takes to transmit a packets. This technical breakthrough enables OTT software services control the network directly via web services API's which changes everything. It's kinda li
  • im Irish (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ionix5891 (1228718) on Friday July 16, 2010 @04:11AM (#32924094)

    and quite happy about this

    but people here (mostly USasians :D) need to know that Ireland had the most expensive bank bailout in world per head of population, almost 10x your mess
    and probably the most incompetent and corrupt government in western world, who are now running a deficit of 20% of GDP which would make the Greeks look good

    and we will be paying for this for many generations :(

    this is a coloured lining on a gray cloud :(

  • by mubes (115026)

    The article is unclear, probably 'cos the journalist was. By 'colour coding' I'm pretty sure they mean Frequency Division Multiplexing which allows multiple wavelengths to be used on the same fibre. Obviously, since these are optical systems, this effectively means different colours (although often outside the range of human sight, and I don't advise you looking down one!) which is the way practitioners typically talk about it.

    FDM has been in use for a long time as a way of hugely expanding the capacity of

    • by RichiH (749257)

      None of the wavelengths used to transmit data (850nm, 1330nm, 1550nm) are visible.

  • by pehrs (690959) on Friday July 16, 2010 @04:23AM (#32924132)

    As far as I can tell this is just a standard implementation of the well known technology known as wavelength-division multiplexing. And calling it "color coding" makes me, as an Engineer, cringe. I am sure it's nice for Ireland to get a new core network, but how this is news for Slashdot is way beyond me...

    Network virtualization is just used as a buzzword here. There is good work being done in the network virtualization field (See for example http://www.geni.net/ [geni.net] and http://www.fp7-federica.eu/ [fp7-federica.eu] but as far as I can tell these guys are not doing anything revolutionary.

    • by rawler (1005089)

      Buzzword is the keyword here. FTA:

      “This is also a green technology – it is capable of carrying twice the volume of traffic that London phone systems carry.

      Since when do throughput equal green?

    • by Cato (8296)

      Mod parent up - WDM is the correct term. Probably this is Metro WDM as opposed to the long-haul DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) - and yes, Coarse WDM does exist too.

      WDM will also come to fiber to the home deployments eventually (there's a WDM for GPON being trialled in Korea I think).

      Gratuitous wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wavelength-division_multiplexing [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by pmullen (1858160)
      In fact they are using a techique called lambda burst switching, where each switch on the ring has a colour associated with it and when sending a packet to that switch the transmit laser retunes to that wavelenght.

      It is very different than the usual OTN style DWDM transport and more like a giant ethernet switch, where every device gets 10Gbit/s uncontented transmit, that can send a packet directly to any other device, regardless of the number of devices in the ring. The number of nodes is only bound by
  • by 2phar (137027) on Friday July 16, 2010 @04:24AM (#32924140)
    Here's a Presentation from April [www.ria.ie] with some detail. There's more to this than just regular WDM.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TychoCaine (531624)
      It's is WDM, but instead of multiple low frequency lasers firing at once, they've got a single high frequency laser firing multiple wavelengths. They've taken the lead from other high-speed data busses like IDE and SCSI in transitioning from parallel to serial, as (I presume) cross-talk must become an issue as speeds rise.
    • by N1ck0 (803359)

      Its a ROADM (Reconfigurable Optical Add Drop Multiplexor) doing DWDM. In otherwords high speed re-tunable lasers that can be configured for different wavelengths on the fly.

      Now all these "colors" are all infrared...at intervals between 1500-1600nm. Its basically been in use on a wide scale for the past 5-7 years.

  • DWDM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by beefstu01 (520880) on Friday July 16, 2010 @04:28AM (#32924160)

    They could just talk to Cisco, Juniper, Nortel, or any other major network infra provider and get DWDM (read "extra colors") capability rolled into their switch. It would probably cost 5m Euro, but the tech already exists (and has since the mid 70's).

    • Re:DWDM (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Friday July 16, 2010 @04:34AM (#32924180) Homepage Journal

      The problem I see with this is the fact that certain wavelengths have certain interfering effects with other wavelengths. For example, 660-670nm radiation coupled with 720-740nm IR radiation causes some odd effects, which plants happen to utilize in photosynthesis, but I don't think we've ever tested such effects against the communication of data.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        Bad fashion, I know, but it is called the Emerson Effect. I am not sure if it applies to the blue/UV wavelengths, but I'm conducting horticultural research on that right now. We've already observed this in the red/IR spectrum, and on top of that we've seen that even exposing one leaf to such irradiation, even a lower leaf, causes the entire plant to react almost immediately.

      • by thogard (43403)

        The last wholesale price of the lasers ran from about $2.50 to $1,400.00 depending on which color you needed. With plans like this, who gets the cheap lasers?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pz (113803)

        The problem I see with this is the fact that certain wavelengths have certain interfering effects with other wavelengths. For example, 660-670nm radiation coupled with 720-740nm IR radiation causes some odd effects, which plants happen to utilize in photosynthesis, but I don't think we've ever tested such effects against the communication of data.

        What planet are you living on? Non-linear interaction between frequencies of EM communication has been studied for not just years, but decades. It's well understood. The subject is covered in any decent first-year Electrical Engineering course, and covered in much more detail in any decent course on Signals and Systems. Given linear media, supperposition applies, and there's no interaction. Given non-linear media, you get frequency mixing; with accurate knowledge of the non-linear characteristics, you

        • by Khyber (864651)

          "It's well understood."

          Not in the horticultural world, it most certainly is not. You are aware there are more scientific industries than computer science, yes?

    • They could just talk to Cisco, Juniper, Nortel, or any other major network infra provider and get DWDM (read "extra colors") capability rolled into their switch.

      It's a good thing that their Chief Scientist worked for twelve years at Nortel then, thought it's disappointing to find out that he is not [intunenetworks.com] an ex-UC Davis alumnus as the summary implies (He has a PhD in Photonics from the University of Ulster).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Guy Harris (3803)

        ...it's disappointing to find out that he is not an ex-UC Davis alumnus as the summary implies

        The summary speaks of "of a group of ex-UCD photonics researchers"; there's more than one UCD on the planet, and this one is probably University College Dublin [www.ucd.ie].

        The founders were from UCD, according to the "about Intune" page [intunenetworks.com]. ("Intune was founded in 1999 by two college graduates, John Dunne and Tom Farrell. They were performing research on tunable lasers and their network applications in University College Dublin, Ireland.")

        (I hope, for UCD's sake, that their Web designers aren't ex-UCD. Not only do the

  • Do they mean WDM? (Score:2, Informative)

    by 3.14159265 (644043)

    Intune Networks (...) has developed a technology that can enable a single strand of fibre to move from carrying one signal from one operator to carrying data from 80 telecoms and TV companies all at once."

    Do they mean they have "invented" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wavelength-division_multiplexing [wikipedia.org]? I'm puzzled.

    • by JacksonG (82656)

      Actually it appears to be Lambda switching/Optical Cross connects. Lucent sell similar gear and I think the tech was invented at Bell Labs back in the 90s.

      Essentially you're switching the path to destination based on it's optical components rather than the encapsulated data - so you pick the destination node(s) by selecting the appropriate colour(s) on a tunable laser and blast the data out effectively switching the data at the optical level without decoding it to electrical signals.

      It's very fast and very

    • It's Ireland. You know we invented the colour green? Now we can have green internet!

  • What are the wavelengths we're talking about here? Are we working in purely visible range, or are we expanding out to low-range IR and UV? Are we going deeper than that over fiber optic? Can we even potentially push microwaves over fiber optic lines since it is just EM and we're using glass as a conduit? Would the conduit need to be bigger than pencil-sized to accommodate wavelengths of such size?

    I could ask questions about this for days. Please give me some information that could cut that time down to a we

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cycoj (1010923)

      Wavelengths, we're pretty much always talking near-infrared. The most often used wavelength range is the so-called C-band (1530–1565 nm). This is mainly because this is where Erbium-doped fibre amplifiers work, which are necessary to create very long links without repeaters (also this is where the absorption minimum of fibres is). Less common is the L-band 1565-1625 nm. There's also the O and E band this are AFAIK mainly legacy bands which were used at the beginning of fibre optic communications. (Den

    • by msauve (701917)
      DWDM is standardized to operate on lambas between 1520 and 1570 nm. This is in the infrared, and is not visible. Fiber optical cables are optimized for these wavelengths, and that range can be optically amplified with EDFAs.
    • by rdebath (884132)

      Microwaves are at far too low a frequency for a fibre to act as a wave guide and you wouldn't really want to anyway. You see the visible range is just under one octave, that means that just the optical band plus a tiny bit of the UV band has as much bandwidth as every single frequency below it.

      This includes the entire of the radio, microwave, toaster [xkcd.com] (okay, terahertz band) and infrared combined. So how much data do you think can ultimately be pushed down a fibre?

  • So if you can send multiple beams down the FttO, then I can have multiple high speed, fiber stable providers in a single fiber link.
  • they color coded those fiber optic cables! I only have 3 going in my AV receiver and all being black has given me some challenge. Imagine dozens of those each belonging to a different telco - how could they tell them apart without color coding?

    PS. Yes, I figured out it was about FDM after reading the summary carefully, still the above were some of the thoughts reading the Title and skimming half the summary... I mean it is not like color-coding fiber optics does not have a specific meaning (http://en.wikip

  • go for a colour upgrade to their frickin head mounted lasers?

  • This is something I've been pondering for a while, why don't we have color coded streets in our biggest cities so that navigation would be easier for us Human Beings ? Human Beings understand colors and places, and can put those two together in their little memories (brains they call them) and can use that information to easily assosiate things with other things, thus remembering for example that Main Street is blue and takes me to the Green Zone, and throught that I have to take the pink road, turn left a

  • Divisive (Score:3, Funny)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday July 16, 2010 @05:25AM (#32924374)
    Another thing for the Catholics & Prods to argue over. Who gets the green wires...
  • Mauve (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by JustOK (667959)

    Don't the mauve wires have more RAM?

  • You mean DWDM and CWDM? Thats been around for a decade. I was deploying it in DC in 2003.

  • hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    so the irish are asserting that there are financial benefits in adapting this prismatic fibre optic technology?

    in other words, there is a pot of gold, at the end of the rainbow?

    where did the irish get such an idea?

  • Read the actual article! I know that's frowned upon, but it will help.

  • Sounds like they are just using different wavelength (wavelength = color) lasers to push multiple signals down the same strand...

    This is an old idea and is already in use all over the world.

      -- Dave

  • by KlomDark (6370)

    Does that mean that they'll have orange-colored fibers and call them red?

  • that is to say, slightly different wavelengths of infrared combined on common fiber pairs. lots of outfits are working on additional lambdas (individual OC48s on one laser/color), present major deployments are 16 and 24 lambdas on one fiber around the world.

    the clever thing is that one regenerator repeats them all for another 24+ miles, one color. skinned fibers basically surround one laser for a bunch of turns, and they all get resynched, whatever the color. spooky.

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