1-877-529-9114|sales@fiberoptic.com  
Ready to talk?

DWDM - Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing


DWDM - Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing

DWDM systems

At this stage, a basic DWDM system contains several main components:

  1. A DWDM terminal multiplexer. The terminal multiplexer actually contains one wavelength converting transponder for each wavelength signal it will carry. The wavelength converting transponders receive the input optical signal (i.e., from a client-layer SONET/SDH or other signal), convert that signal into the electrical domain, and retransmit the signal using a 1550 nm band laser. (Early DWDM systems contained 4 or 8 wavelength converting transponders in the mid 1990s. By 2000 or so, commercial systems capable of carrying 128 signals were available.) The terminal mux also contains an optical multiplexer, which takes the various 1550 nm band signals and places them onto a single fiber (e.g. SMF-28 fiber). The terminal multiplexer may or may not also support a local EDFA for power amplification of the multi-wavelength optical signal.
  2. An intermediate line repeater is placed approx. every 80 – 100 km for compensating the loss in optical power, while the signal travels along the fiber. The signal is amplified by an EDFA, which usually consists of several amplifier stages.
  3. An intermediate optical terminal, or optical add-drop multiplexer. This is a remote amplification site that amplifies the multi-wavelength signal that may have traversed up to 140 km or more before reaching the remote site. Optical diagnostics and telemetry are often extracted or inserted at such a site, to allow for localization of any fiber breaks or signal impairments. In more sophisticated systems (which are no longer point-to-point), several signals out of the multiwavelength signal may be removed and dropped locally.
  4. A DWDM terminal demultiplexer. The terminal demultiplexer breaks the multi-wavelength signal back into individual signals and outputs them on separate fibers for client-layer systems (such as SONET/SDH) to detect. Originally, this demultiplexing was performed entirely passively, except for some telemetry, as most SONET systems can receive 1550-nm signals. However, in order to allow for transmission to remote client-layer systems (and to allow for digital domain signal integrity determination) such demultiplexed signals are usually sent to O/E/O output transponders prior to being relayed to their client-layer systems. Often, the functionality of output transponder has been integrated into that of input transponder, so that most commercial systems have transponders that support bi-directional interfaces on both their 1550-nm (i.e., internal) side, and external (i.e., client-facing) side. Transponders in some systems supporting 40 GHz nominal operation may also perform forward error correction (FEC) via 'digital wrapper' technology, as described in the ITU-T G.709 standard.
  5. Optical Supervisory Channel (OSC). This is an additional wavelength usually outside the EDFA amplification band (at 1510 nm, 1620 nm, 1310 nm or another proprietary wavelength). The OSC carries information about the multi-wavelength optical signal as well as remote conditions at the optical terminal or EDFA site. It is also normally used for remote software upgrades and user (i.e., network operator) Network Management information. It is the multi-wavelength analogue to SONET's DCC (or supervisory channel). ITU standards suggest that the OSC should utilize an OC-3 signal structure, though some vendors have opted to use 100 megabit Ethernet or another signal format. Unlike the 1550 nm band client signal-carrying wavelengths, the OSC is always terminated at intermediate amplifier sites, where it receives local information before retransmission.

The introduction of the ITU-T G.694.1 frequency grid in 2002 has made it easier to integrate WDM with older but more standard SONET/SDH systems. WDM wavelengths are positioned in a grid having exactly 100 GHz (about 0.8 nm) spacing in optical frequency, with a reference frequency fixed at 193.10 THz (1552.52 nm). The main grid is placed inside the optical fiber amplifier bandwidth, but can be extended to wider bandwidths. Today's DWDM systems use 50 GHz or even 25 GHz channel spacing for up to 160 channel operation.

DWDM systems have to maintain more stable wavelength or frequency than those needed for CWDM because of the closer spacing of the wavelengths. Precision temperature control of laser transmitter is required in DWDM systems to prevent "drift" off a very narrow frequency window of the order of a few GHz. In addition, since DWDM provides greater maximum capacity it tends to be used at a higher level in the communications hierarchy than CWDM, for example on the Internet backbone and is therefore associated with higher modulation rates, thus creating a smaller market for DWDM devices with very high performance levels. These factors of smaller volume and higher performance result in DWDM systems typically being more expensive than CWDM.

Recent innovations in DWDM transport systems include pluggable and software-tunable transceiver modules capable of operating on 40 or 80 channels. This dramatically reduces the need for discrete spare pluggable modules, when a handful of pluggable devices can handle the full range of wavelengths.

WDM Systems

A WDM system uses a multiplexer at the transmitter to join the signals together, and a demultiplexer at the receiver to split them apart. With the right type of fiber it is possible to have a device that does both simultaneously, and can function as an optical add-drop multiplexer. The optical filtering devices used have traditionally been etalons, stable solid-state single-frequency Fabry-Perot interferometers in the form of thin-film-coated optical glass.

The concept was first published in 1970, and by 1978 WDM systems were being realized in the laboratory. The first WDM systems only combined two signals. Modern systems can handle up to 160 signals and can thus expand a basic 10 Gbit/s fiber system to a theoretical total capacity of over 1.6 Tbit/s over a single fiber pair.

WDM systems are popular with telecommunications companies because they allow them to expand the capacity of the network without laying more fiber. By using WDM and optical amplifiers, they can accommodate several generations of technology development in their optical infrastructure without having to overhaul the backbone network. Capacity of a given link can be expanded by simply upgrading the multiplexers and demultiplexers at each end.

This is often done by using optical-to-electrical-to-optical (O/E/O) translation at the very edge of the transport network, thus permitting interoperation with existing equipment with optical interfaces.

Most WDM systems operate on single mode fiber optical cables, which have a core diameter of 9 Ám. Certain forms of WDM can also be used in multi-mode fiber cables (also known as premises cables) which have core diameters of 50 or 62.5 Ám.

Early WDM systems were expensive and complicated to run. However, recent standardization and better understanding of the dynamics of WDM systems have made WDM less expensive to deploy.

Optical receivers, in contrast to laser sources, tend to be wideband devices. Therefore the demultiplexer must provide the wavelength selectivity of the receiver in the WDM system.

WDM systems are divided in different wavelength patterns: conventional or coarse and dense WDM.

  • Conventional WDM systems provide up to 16 channels in the 3rd transmission window (C-band, around 1550 nm) of silica fibers.
  • Dense WDM (DWDM) uses the same 3rd transmission window (C-band) but with denser channel spacing. Channel plans vary, but a typical system would use 40 channels at 100 GHz spacing or 80 channels with 50 GHz spacing. Some technologies are capable of 25 GHz spacing (sometimes called ultra dense WDM). New amplification options (Raman amplification) enable the extension of the usable wavelengths to the L-band, more or less doubling these numbers.
  • Coarse WDM (CWDM) in contrast to conventional WDM and DWDM uses increased channel spacing to allow less sophisticated and thus cheaper transceiver designs. To again provide 16 channels on a single fiber CWDM uses the entire frequency band between 2nd and 3rd transmission window (1310/1550 nm respectively) including both windows (minimum dispersion window and minimum attenuation window) but also the critical area where OH scattering may occur, recommending the use of OH-free silica fibers in case the wavelengths between 2nd and 3rd transmission window shall also be used. Avoiding this region, the channels 31, 49, 51, 53, 55, 57, 59, 61 remain and these are the most commonly used.
WDM, DWDM and CWDM are based on the same concept of using multiple wavelengths of light on a single fiber, but differ in the spacing of the wavelengths, number of channels, and the ability to amplify the multiplexed signals in the optical space. EDFA provide an efficient wideband amplification for the C-band, Raman amplification adds a mechanism for amplification in the L-band. For CWDM wideband optical amplification is not available, limiting the optical spans to several tens of kilometres.

Wavelength converting transponders

At this stage, some details concerning Wavelength Converting Transponders should be discussed, as this will clarify the role played by current DWDM technology as an additional optical transport layer. It will also serve to outline the evolution of such systems over the last 10 or so years.

As stated above, wavelength converting transponders served originally to translate the transmit wavelength of a client-layer signal into one of the DWDM system's internal wavelengths in the 1550 nm band (note that even external wavelengths in the 1550 nm will most likely need to be translated, as they will almost certainly not have the required frequency stability tolerances nor will it have the optical power necessary for the system's EDFA.

In the mid-1990s, however, wavelength converting transponders rapidly took on the additional function of signal regeneration. Signal regeneration in transponders quickly evolved through 1R to 2R to 3R and into overhead-monitoring multi-bitrate 3R regenerators. These differences are outlined below:

1R
Retransmission. Basically, early transponders were "garbage in garbage out" in that their output was nearly an analogue 'copy' of the received optical signal, with little signal cleanup occurring. This limited the reach of early DWDM systems because the signal had to be handed off to a client-layer receiver (likely from a different vendor) before the signal deteriorated too far. Signal monitoring was basically confined to optical domain parameters such as received power.

2R
Re-time and re-transmit. Transponders of this type were not very common and utilized a quasi-digital Schmitt-triggering method for signal clean-up. Some rudimentary signal quality monitoring was done by such transmitters that basically looked at analogue parameters.

3R
Re-time, re-transmit, re-shape. 3R Transponders were fully digital and normally able to view SONET/SDH section layer overhead bytes such as A1 and A2 to determine signal quality health. Many systems will offer 2.5 Gbit/s transponders, which will normally mean the transponder is able to perform 3R regeneration on OC-3/12/48 signals, and possibly gigabit Ethernet, and reporting on signal health by monitoring SONET/SDH section layer overhead bytes. Many transponders will be able to perform full multi-rate 3R in both directions. Some vendors offer 10 Gbit/s transponders, which will perform Section layer overhead monitoring to all rates up to and including OC-192.

Muxponder
The muxponder (from multiplexed transponder) has different names depending on vendor. It essentially performs some relatively simple time division multiplexing of lower rate signals into a higher rate carrier within the system (a common example is the ability to accept 4 OC-48s and then output a single OC-192 in the 1550 nm band). More recent muxponder designs have absorbed more and more TDM functionality, in some cases obviating the need for traditional SONET/SDH transport equipment.

Home | Search | Terms of Sale | Privacy Policy | Contact | About FiberOptic.com | Government Customers | Help
©FiberOptic.com (The Fiber Optic Marketplace, LLC), All rights reserved.
1-877-529-9114  | sales@fiberoptic.com