Optical communications, put simply, is a means of communication, with the optical wave being the carrier. There are indeed two ways of increasing optical bandwidth. Firstly, by increasing the rate of single-channel transmission of optical fiber, and secondly by increasing the wavelengths transmitted in the single fiber. Optical communications work on different techniques such as wavelength division multiplexing, fiber channel, synchronous optical networking, and others.
Key Components of Optical Communication Systems
Optical communication systems comprise of top three components namely,
- Transmitter- This helps in converting and transmitting electronic signals into light signals. One of the most widely used transmitters includes semiconductor devices like laser diodes and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
- Receivers- This typically comprises a photo-detector that helps convert light to electricity with the photoelectric effect. The photodetector basically is a photodiode that is semiconductor-based.
- Optical Fiber- This comprises a cladding, core, and a buffer with which the cladding generally guides the light through the core utilizing total internal reflection.
Optical communications offer a plethora of perks namely,
- Transmit Massive Information at One Go- Through optical communication, several users can get the needed information all at one time (news or movies, etc.). Electrical communication in one second can transmit just 10GB of information, whereas optical communication is capable of transmitting information of up to 1 Tb.
- Fast Communication Speed- Communications that are done electrically can result in errors in the electrical noise causing decreased communication speed. Optical communication on the other hand, is not impacted by noise, thus it is capable of transmitting signals quickly.
- Save Energy- For instance, one desires to transmit information of about 10GB in one second. By using electrical communication, one needs to adjust the signal for every 100 meters. Using optical communication, in contrast, needs an interval of about over 100 kilometers. When the signal is adjusted fewer times, there will be fewer uses of machines which means energy will be saved. For instance, when one chats or phones online with their friends overseas, they will experience no difference in domestic conversation, sans lag in sound. During an age of electrical communication, people are capable of transmitting at shorter distances and transmitting less information, and communication internationally is chiefly transmitted with the help of satellites as relay. With optical communication, however, one is capable of transmitting at long distances and transmitting more information. Thus, by utilizing fiber-optic cables put on the seafloor, communicating overseas is possible. Electrical waves possess the same speed as optical waves. However, as the path of transmission is longer through satellite, automatically the signal arrives slower. As the submarine cable is generally shorter, thus the signal is likely to be faster.
The COVID-19 crisis possessed a significant impact on optical communication systems. This is due to a halt in production facilities of semiconductors and electronics for the unavailability and slowdown of the workforce across the world. There has also been a dip in its demand for supply chain disruptions occurring due to the outbreak. But there is likely to be a recovery in its demand for the organization’s full focus for catering to the upsurge in need for telecommunication equipment driven via a rapid acceleration in the deployment of 5G across the world. Further, the outbreak has increased the use of fiber optic broadband worldwide for higher data traffic and new broadband demands with those staying at home.
Owing to its alluring features and plentiful benefits, optical communications have wide applications such as introduction, enterprise, telecom, datacenter, and others. Its end users comprise aerospace, defense, IT and telecommunications, BFSI, energy and utilities, cloud, healthcare, government, and others. In short, the optical communication sector has a bright future and is here to stay.