Boosting bandwidth without the fiber 

Written by 

Amy Huettner

Marketing Communications Manager

The explosion of mobile traffic has put immense pressure on the mobile network to deliver necessary capacity and performance; on average, between 2015 and 2020, the amount of data people used increased by 369%. As the appetite for higher bandwidth and lower latency from Radio Access Networks becomes increasingly insatiable, HUBER+SUHNER solutions hold the key to overcoming this demand.

Why WDM? 

As the size and number of companies choosing to utilise the mobile network grows, so does the demand for stronger capabilities and higher bandwidth. With the growth in emerging applications like 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous driving the need for further high-speed connectivity between cell sites has never been greater. Therefore, the challenge is to optimise the available resource to meet requirements both now and for the future. 

Optical fiber cable, with its high bandwidth capability, is the backbone of all networks. Yet there is a limit to how much fiber each operator has access to. This means there is a need to fully exploit the potential of fiber in order to reach demand. Enter Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM). WDM increases network capacity by reusing existing fiber. It joins together data signals from different sources so they can share a single optical fiber pair while maintaining complete separation of the data streams. These multiple light wavelengths can travel on one fiber and several signals can be transmitted at different wavelengths. The result is that customers leveraging HUBER+SUHNER technology can expect rapid deployments within their existing setup, with a future ready solution based on the data rate and protocol neutral characteristics of WDM.

Evolving to meet demand

Bandwidth expansion based on WDM is an ideal alternative to deploying new fiber. Not only is it more cost-effective but the time to deploy is a mere fraction compared to laying additional fiber. Furthermore, due to their plug-and-play setup, installation and maintenance overheads can be reduced, with customers knowing the technology in use has been tailored to site-specific requirements. 

Of course, WDM is not limited to the interconnection of only two sites. When many sites are connected, two fundamentally different multiplexing functions come into play. One option is the MUX, which launches or terminates all traffic. The other is optical add-drop multiplexers (OADM) and daisy-chain multiplexers which only add or drop some of the channels whilst transparently passing through all remaining channels or traffic. The different multiplexing functions can be used to create a network topology independent of the physical cable connection.

Understanding the differences between the various multiplexing technologies is just one step in a much larger task that involves deciding how and where they should be used. Capacity and latency are primary drivers, but factors such as overall cost, size, scope and installation simplicity will all have a significant impact as well. 

Looking to the future

Over the next five to ten years, we are going to see a growing number and combination of services; for example, home broadband, with smart home devices and wearables, or with apps and online services in which mobile services are complementary. All add pressure to networks and their operators, and consideration must be taken to ensure we are building and working towards future demands. 

With the latest technology developed by HUBER+SUHNER, operators are in a better position to boost bandwidth at the edge of the optical network without adding more fiber through easy integration and customization to local requirements.