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Technology Science

Closing the Gap To Improve the Capacity of Existing Fiber Optic Networks 53

Posted by samzenpus
from the building-it-better dept.
cylonlover writes "A team of researchers working through Australia's Centre for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) has developed data encoding technology that increases the efficiency of existing fiber optic cable networks. The researchers claim their invention, which packs the data channels closer together, increases the data capacity of optical networks to the point that all of the world's internet traffic could be transmitted via a single fiber."
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Closing the Gap To Improve the Capacity of Existing Fiber Optic Networks

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  • by Cow007 (735705)
    That's what she said
  • by trazom28 (134909) on Monday April 08, 2013 @12:48PM (#43392637)

    Now we just need more locations to actually *have* fiber, or some similar high speed bandwidth. My in-laws can only get celluar (unreliable), and satellite isn't worth it. They are just within range of DSL if the phone company would do the upgrade - and there are several customers on their street that would happily switch - apparently not enough for them to spend the dollars to do the upgrade.

    Upgrades only are cool if everyone has the opportunity to use it.

    • by Shatrat (855151)

      This is for core long haul transport, not your in-laws house.

      • by trazom28 (134909)

        My point being, why upgrade the long haul transport when we can't get everyone on? Build a bigger highway for the same amount of cars.

        • by medv4380 (1604309)
          Except fiber happens to be the preferred medium for the High Traffic parts of that Highway. Reducing congestion in the higher trafficked areas improves the performance of the network as a whole which improves your in-laws network performance as well. Try not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I'm sure the phone company loves not being able to turn on any of that lovely fiber they over provisioned in the 90s because of these advances.
          • by trazom28 (134909)

            Won't improve the neighbor down the road who can't afford the high speed alternatives (dish or cellular) and is stuck on dialup, on old copper, that gets about 24K connections, on a good day. I get that it's going to improve the backbone - it'll probably help me, as I have great DSL service, but it's only going to filter down so far. Local telcos need to suck it up and do the upgrades.

        • by Miamicanes (730264) on Monday April 08, 2013 @06:15PM (#43395781)

          > My point being, why upgrade the long haul transport when we can't get everyone on?

          Because dark fiber isn't equally-available to network service providers. Lots of small, disruptive companies managed to buy up a couple of dark fibers in the days following Worldcom's collapse, before bigger companies snapped up most of the remainder to hoard and maintain scarcity. If a dozen small, disruptive companies that own a fiber or two apiece can make that one fiber do the work of 8, it really doesn't *matter* whether it would be cheaper to just use cheaper and simpler modulation methods on 8 dark fibers than to use exotic equipment to multiplex 8 times the data onto one. In the real world, if you aren't Verizon or AT&T, the cost of acquiring 7 more fibers is likely to be a lot higher than the cost of buying expensive electronics gear and stacking 8 times the data onto the one you already have.

          Here's another example: back in the late 70s, the amount of money a big company with offices in New York and Chicago paid to MCI for a virtual trunk line connecting their PBX systems in the two cities was WAY more than what it cost AT&T to actually own and operate a comparable inercity trunk line.. but the amount charged by MCI was less than AT&T charged, and it ended up being several orders of magnitude cheaper for employees in New York to make Chicago calls by picking up their desk phone, connecting directly (via MCI) to their company's PBX in Chicago, hitting 9, and dialing the local Chicago number, than it would have been to have just directly placed a long-distance call through AT&T and paid their per-minute charges and taxes to make the call.

          As my dad explained it to me (he used to work for MCI), it was technically against AT&T's TOS back then to run your own intercity bridge and use a PBX in one city to make calls from another... but the Carterfone decision made AT&T's authority to dictate such terms legally questionable, the FCC was in no mood to enforce such terms anyway, by the time the feds started to care about lost excise tax revenue even medium-sized companies were doing it, and AT&T was hoping that if it quietly behaved itself and didn't cause a fuss, it might be able to avoid getting broken up. Later, MCI built switching centers where they allowed companies like IBM and Ford to just lease a colocated PBX (maintained by MCI) so they could purchase leased trunk lines into cities like Miami where they didn't have a direct presence, followed by a whole chain of incremental steps that allowed companies to share their local POP, trunk lines, and pool of local POTS lines with other companies, until finally MCI just started offering outright bulk prepaid long-distance service to companies. At that point, you still had to jump through hoops that basically boiled down to "dial a local number to connect to a local PBX, dial the desired number, let the system switch you over via private trunk lines to the destination city's PBX, which connected you to a local phone line, dialed the local number on your behalf, and connected you to it"... but it worked, and allowed large (and eventually, medium-sized, gradually extending to smaller) companies to place long-distance calls for a fraction of what AT&T charged.

          Put another way, the way disruptive companies like MCI did an end run around AT&T was more expensive than the internal efficiencies enjoyed by AT&T, but ended up being cheaper for end users because AT&T didn't pass those efficiencies along, and instead milked them for every mononopolistic rent-seeking penny they could. The same is true with fiber. If you own a fiber and can use it however you please, being able to multiply its capacity is HUGELY disruptive to larger companies whose business plan is to maintain artificial scarcity and keep prices high.

          More importantly, much of the local impetus comes from disruptive companies like Google who have more backhaul than they know what to do with who then turn around and make it available to end users in a cit

      • This is for core long haul transport, not your in-laws house.

        My in-laws' house is for core long haul transport, you insensitive clod!

    • by Kjella (173770)

      It's hard to fight against down-paid infrastructure, particularly since many people just aren't that heavy bandwidth users. But at least here in Norway the telcos that used to lay copper now lay fiber, the cable companies that used to lay coax now lay fiber and the power companies for the most part started with fiber, there's really nobody left that puts anything else in the ground except for maintenance and hooking up the odd new house to the old network. The places that are too distributed for fiber cell

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        You need to add, over valued, debt burdened infrastructure, which will drop prices to cripple any new start up who enters the market at their most critical, high capital investment and low revenues. Basically the US and a whole bunch of the rest of the globes, telecommunications infrastructure is run by psychopaths who don't give a fuck about anyone or anything other than their own inflated salaries and bonuses. They corrupt the democratic process to protect this bullshit because otherwise the democratic p

    • by Gothmolly (148874)

      One word for you: Move.

      If there's no availability of a particular service which you require in an area you've moved to or live in, you have a choice. Move, or STFU. Stop making this someone else's problem.

      • Remember that, when your farmers all move. Or lumberjacks, or fisherman. Its kind of easy to live in the city, since everyone out in the country ships stuff to you. Moving is not a choice for many people, especially in rural areas, where you might have to move dozens (or even hundreds) of miles to get somewhere with internet. HUGE swaths of the US have no real internet. Its kind of like electricity and roads before WW1.

        Hell, I live 5 miles from a major city, and have only rural wireless ISP. I was luck

        • This. The "move to the city if you require internet access" seems the modern equivalent of "move to the city if you require electricity" or telephones or what-have-you... if it was technically impossible or even difficult to get internet access out to rural areas, fine. But it's NOT. It's relatively easy. It's the same argument that should be used against telecoms capping mobile data. It's not a hard problem to solve; it's just that they don't do it... and slashdotters would likely get upset if the ans

          • It isn't that easy to get internet to rural areas. The technology exists, yes - but the business case isn't strong. In the city, you can run a cable along a street and it'll pass straight past a hundred or more potential paying customers - the cable is expensive, but their subscription fees pay to lay it. In the country, you might have to lay thousands of meters of cable in order to reach just one subscriber. Unless that subscriber is obscenely wealthy, it's impossible to turn a profit on that. Even in a s

            • Truely rural america still consists of vast swathes of farmland or near-virgin territory, dotted around with small towns and homesteads.

              Correct, I'm not *really* rural, I thought "semi-rural" was an okay description. I wouldn't say I'm suburban though, at least not in the California (or, I should say, not in the "coastal" and "near large cities" California definition). Basically all the houses in my area have at least one acre, most have 2 to 4, some have upwards of 10-15 or even 20. That's pretty big for this area as a whole, until you get out in farming communities. So, no, not *really* rural ... but, apparently, we're rural enough th

      • So when the all coal miners move to get high speed intarwebz what will you do when the lights go out on the East Coast?

      • by trazom28 (134909)

        They have an established successful business run out of their home, that requires rural setting and outbuildings. It's been challenging to expand to their national base of customers with unreliable high speed. Some of the other neighbors in the area are in their 70s, and happily use the internet as much as it allows them, but moving isn't a possibilty, nor should it be. Also, not everybody chooses to live in a city. See the post by QuantumRiff for an excellent example of how the world works outside of y

    • I live an 1/8th of a mile from locations that have had 40mb DSL for years but I can still only get 1.5.

      I play 45/month for 50mb but .. I pay 50c/gig over 100 gigs.

      Yes, it's cable.
  • by Shatrat (855151) on Monday April 08, 2013 @12:49PM (#43392655)

    Looks like a Super Channel implementation. Not really a novel concept for next gen > 100Gigabits per channel DWDM systems.See here for example. http://www.lightwaveonline.com/articles/print/volume-29/issue-2/features/superchannels-to-the-rescue.html [lightwaveonline.com]
    More power to them if they're making good progress, though.

  • Latency? (Score:4, Funny)

    by mortonda (5175) on Monday April 08, 2013 @12:52PM (#43392683)

    all of the world's internet traffic could be transmitted via a single fiber.

    Um, sure, that's easy.... but how long will it take?

    • by Shatrat (855151)

      Is that a trick question? Speed of light * refractive index of the fiber.

    • Re:Latency? (Score:5, Funny)

      by jc42 (318812) on Monday April 08, 2013 @01:28PM (#43393091) Homepage Journal

      all of the world's internet traffic could be transmitted via a single fiber.

      Um, sure, that's easy.... but how long will it take?

      And how long would it take for the first backhoe to come along?

      • by jc42 (318812)

        [H]ow long would it take for the first backhoe to come along?

        Funny, perhaps, but there's a serious problem hidden in the phrasing "all of the world's internet traffic could be transmitted via a single fiber." Most people would naturally consider this a major achievement, but in fact it would be a major mistake.

        Back in 1986 (12 Dec, I googled it ;-) all of New England (the one in the US, not Australia ;-) was cut off from the rest of the network for half a day. This was thought unlikely, because there were seven different cables connecting the northeast to the re

      • Just put it on top of Westminster clock tower, and relay via wireless. Safe from backhoes. You get the best signal up there, anyway.

  • And my WiFi AP does 600 megabits....
    • That's only between their own products, at two meters range, in an EM-shielded enclosure, on a way when Jupiter aligns with Mars and the antennas are sprinkled with pixie dust. The real stuff, too, not that sugary substitute.

  • They spelled "Center" wrong...
    Someone should tell them.

  • If we ever get our fiber NBN, flag me as interested. :S
  • When i pack my packets, the heavy ones go on the bottom so the lighter ones don't get squooshed. This decreases latency tremendously.

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