Autumn 2017 Optical Connections Magazine


Hybrid optical and wireless networks


Combining the attributes of optical and wireless technologies in broadband access and distribution networks has several attractions: flexibility in network design; increased service variety and availability; greater customer satisfaction; and better business for all. By John Williamson.

it comes to the rollout of next generation wireless 5G networks, that are predicted to use a vast number of very short distance high capacity backhaul links in particular in densely populated metropolitan areas.” Immunity to RF interference is another. “We have customers using FSO for over 10 years with no interference to networks,” states Stephen Patrick Founder and CEO, CableFree. Separately, there are growing concerns about increased exposure of people to RF radiation with, for example, the French authorities restricting the use of Wi-Fi in nurseries and primary schools. “The RF exposure discussion will likely get even more intense with the rollout of 5G mobile networks,” predicts Dr Willebrand. “FSO wireless bridges can play an important role to reduce the exposure to RF radiation when FSO links are used for short distance backhaul links.” The FSO business model also appeals,


T he combination optical and wireless technologies takes a number of forms, and today they are at dierent stages of maturity. Those that comprehensively integrate fibre optic and wireless subsystems – dubbed “Fi-Wi” by some – are the subject of much research and academic investigation. Li-Fi systems, using modulated light from LEDs to transmit data, are now appearing as commercial products. Better established are Free Space Optics (FSO) and optical Distributed Antenna Systems (DASs).

SPACE SUITS FSO can bring substantial benefits to both service providers and end-users. Potentially very high bandwidth is one such, with the use of infrared frequencies being demonstrated on research links carrying more than 1 Tbits/s. “This is of great significance in a world where ever-increasing capacity needs and the lack of radio frequency spectrum seems to collide,” suggests Dr. Heinz Willebrand, Founder and CEO of LightPointe Communications Inc and Firefly Wireless Networks LLC. “This is seen as one of the most limiting factors when


| ISSUE 10 | Q3 2017

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