When we talk about optical communication, most people think about optical-fiber. But optical communication is also possible without optical-fiber. We know that light travels through air for a lot less money. This makes possible the optical communication without optical-fiber. Optical communication without fiber is known as Free Space Optics. It is used due to economic advantages. Since the introduction of internet the backbone traffic is increasing at the rate greater than 100%, hence the owner of the backbone infrastructure (which is entirely based on fiber optics) are eagerly embracing technologies that add of the capacity of the fiber optics without adding mountains of optical cables. FSO is not a new idea. 30-years back optical-fiber cables are used for high-speed communication. In those days FSO are used for high-speed connectivity over short distances. Today’s FSO can carry full-duplex data at gigabit-per-second rates over metropolitan distances.

Free Space Optics require light. laser). The use of lasers is a simple concept similar to optical transmissions using fiber-optic cables. allowing optical connectivity without requiring fiber-optic cable or securing spectrum licenses.What is Free Space Optics (FSO)? Free Space Optics (FSO) is a line-of-sight technology that uses lasers to provide optical bandwidth connections. voice and video communications through the air. Light travels through air faster than it does through glass. The receiving lens connects to a .5 Gbps of data. so it is fair to classify Free Space Optics as optical communications at the speed of light. It's based on connectivity between FSO units. the only difference is the medium. each consisting of an optical transceiver with a laser transmitter and a receiver to provide full duplex (bi-directional) capability.e. which can be focused by using either light emitting diodes (LEDs) or lasers (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). plus a lens that transmits light through the atmosphere to another lens receiving the information. Free Space Optics are capable of up to 2. Free Space Optics (FSO) technology is relatively simple. Currently. Each FSO unit uses a high-power optical source (i.

video images. These receivers are telescopic lenses able to collect the photon stream and transmit digital data containing a mix of Internet messages. and its open interfaces support equipment from a variety of vendors. and demonstration systems report data rates as high as 160 Gbps. which helps service providers protect their investment in embedded telecommunications infrastructures. Free Space Optics (FSO) systems can function over . FSO technology requires no spectrum licensing. eye-safe light beams from one "telescope" to another using low power infrared lasers in the teraHertz spectrum.high-sensitivity receiver via optical fiber. The beams of light in Free Space Optics (FSO) systems are transmitted by laser light focused on highly sensitive photon detector receivers. FSO is easily upgradeable. Commercially available systems offer capacities in the range of 100 Mbps to 2. HOW FREE SPACE OPTICS (FSO) WORKS Free Space Optics (FSO) transmits invisible.5 Gbps. radio signals or computer files.

Light Beam Used for FSO System Generally equipment works at one of the two wavelengths: 850 nm or 1550 nm. Laser for 850 nm are much less . and the point-to-point laser signal is extremely difficult to intercept. Free Space Optics (FSO) communication is possible FSO: WIRELESS. AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT Unlike radio and microwave systems. and enough transmitter power. and therefore secure. while the extremely narrow laser beam widths ensure that there is almost no practical limit to the number of separate Free Space Optics (FSO) links that can be installed in a given location. interference from or to other systems or equipment is not a concern. As long as there is a clear line of sight between the source and the destination. Data rates comparable to optical fiber transmission can be carried by Free Space Optics (FSO) systems with very low error rates. Free Space Optics (FSO) is an optical technology and no spectrum licensing or frequency coordination with other users is required.distances of several kilometers.

So for high data rates. The main reason revolves around power. 1550 nm can become quite attractive. being mostly absorbed by the cornea. 1550 nm beams operate at higher power than 850 nm. poor propagation conditions (like fog). However. to fully leverage their backbone . by about two orders of magnitude. and they have also increased the capacity of these large backbone networks.expensive (around $30 versus more than $1000) and are favored for applications over moderate distances. One question arises that why we use 1550 nm wavelength. Why FSO Now? Substantial investments by carriers to augment the capacity of their core fiber backbones have facilitated dramatic improvements in both price and performance. to generate the communications traffic and revenue needed to fully utilize and pay for these backbone upgrades. distance. This requires substantial bandwidth upgrades at the network edge. Infrared radiation at 1550 nm tends not to reach the retina of the eye. or combinations of those conditions. higher bandwidth connections must reach the end customers. long distances. Essentially. That power can boost link lengths by a factor of at least five while maintaining adequate strength for proper link operation. and eye safety.

FSO is one of the evolutionary technologies that allows a carrier to acquire and retain new customers quickly and cost-effectively.  Increased competition: Regulation changes and significant investments by various funds have increased the competitive climate in these metro networks. thereby gaining an entry point over competition. . FSO presents an opportunity that allows carriers to achieve that goal for one-fifth the cost when compared to fiber (if even available) and at a fraction of the Metro optical networks are expected to see $57. most countries are experiencing tremendous growth in bandwidth needs. service providers will also need to expand and extend the reach of their metropolitan optical network to the edge. In growing economies like Latin America and China—where the ability to have high-bandwidth connectivity outweighs standards for reliability—the lack of infrastructure and rising bandwidth demands offers a unique opportunity for FSO.3 billion invested by 2005. Each of the existing or new entrants is racing to gain an advantage over their competition.  Internet-based International growth: Due to the growing number of applications.

ESCON. . in their core infrastructure. As a Layer One technology. FSO is protocol agnostic. Some of them are as follows – 1:. these networks are also a mixture of multiple protocols ranging from Ethernet. to connect new networks. etc. to complete Sonet rings. and. FICON.Metro Network Extensions Carriers can deploy FSO to extend existing metropolitan-area fiber rings. Applications of FSO The applications of free-space-optics are many. Moreover. SONET. IP. To better understand this growing need for FSO. data has emerged as the winner. Changing traffic patterns and protocol standards: Multiple traffic types characterize metro networks. many service providers still find themselves short of bandwidth to satisfy their needs. it is important to understand the key drivers for FSO.  Wireless world: With the rapid adoption and slow deployment of wireless technologies such as LMDS and MMDS in response to high bandwidth communication needs in the metro area. Where voice was once the dominant traffic type.

Service Acceleration FSO can be also used to provide instant service to fiberoptic customers while their fiber infrastructure is being laid.Enterprise Connectivity the ease with which FSO links can be installed makes them a natural for interconnecting local-area network segments that are housed in buildings separated by public streets or other right-of-way property.Backhaul FSO can be used to carry cellular telephone traffic from antenna towers back to facilities wired into the public switched telephone network. It can also be used to bypass local-loop systems to provide business with high-speed connections. 3:. 4:. . 5:. 6:.2:.Fiber Backup FSO may also be deployed in redundant links to backup fiber in place of a second fiber link.Last-Mile Access FSO can be used in high-speed links that connect endusers with internet service providers or other networks.

FSO enables optical transmission at speeds of up to 2.FSO: Optical or Wireless? FSO is clearly an optical technology and not a wireless technology for two primary reasons. This is not possible using any fixed wireless/RF technology existing today. . One. FSO obviates the need to buy expensive spectrum (it requires no FCC or municipal license approvals). Thus. Its similarity to conventional optical solutions will enable a seamless integration of access networks with optical core networks and help to realize the vision of an all-optical network. FSO should not be classified as a wireless technology. Two.5 Gbps and in the future 10 Gbps using WDM. which distinguishes it clearly from fixed wireless technologies.

making them harder to find and even harder to intercept and crack  Data can be transmitted over an encrypted connection adding to the degree of security available in Free Space Optics (FSO) network transmissions Challenges To Free-Space Optics . Interception is very difficult and extremely unlikely. Free Space Optics (FSO) is far more secure than RF or other wirelessbased transmission technologies for several reasons:  Free Space Optics (FSO) laser beams cannot be Free Space Optics (FSO) laser transmissions are detected with spectrum analyzers or RF meters  optical and travel along a line of sight path that cannot be intercepted easily.  The laser beams generated by Free Space Optics (FSO) systems are narrow and invisible. In fact.Free-Space Optics (FSO) Security The common perception of wireless is that it offers less security than wireline connections. It requires a matching Free Space Optics (FSO) transceiver carefully aligned to complete the transmission.

. Their action is readily observed in the twinkling of stars in the night sky and the shimmering of horizon on a hot day. However. gnawing rodents and even sharks when deployed under sea. there is a difference in how each technology transmits information. These air pockets act like prisms and lenses with time varying properties. FSO uses an open medium (the atmosphere) that is subject to its own potential outside disturbances.Fiber-optic cable and FSO share many similarities. 1:.Scintillation Scintillation is best defined as the temporal and spatial variations in light intensity caused by atmospheric turbulence. Such turbulence is caused by wind and temperature gradients that create pockets of air with rapidly varying densities and therefore fast changing indices of optical refraction. which can affect an FSO system's capacity. FSO is also a line-of-sight technology and interconnecting points must be free from physical obstruction and able to "see" each other. While fiber uses a relatively predictable medium that is subject to outside disturbances from wayward construction backhoes. Networks with FSO must be designed to counter the atmosphere.

Mie-scattering It is the scattering of beam due to fog. it is often necessary to choose 1550-nm lasers because of the higher power permitted at that wavelength. In areas with frequent heavy fogs. it is unlikely that in traveling to the receiver .FSO communications systems deal with scintillation by sending the same information from several separate laser transmitters. there seems to be some evidence that mie-scattering is slightly lower at 1550-nm than at 850-nm. all the parallel beams will encounter the same pocket of turbulence since the scintillation pockets are usually quite small. are less of a problem for free-space optics than fog. like snow and especially rain. Other atmospheric disturbances. These are mounted in the same housing. This approach is called Spatial Diversity. Also. It is largely a matter of boosting the transmitted power. 2:. or link head. at least one of the beams will arrive at the target node with adequate strength to be properly received. separated from one another by distances of about 200 mm. But some studies shows that scattering is independent of the wavelength under heavy fog conditions. Most probably. . Spatial diversity also helps to deal with scattering.

 Active Tracking This method is used when the link heads are mounted on the top of extremely tall buildings or towers. the transmitted beam is purposely allowed to diverge. the typical free-space optics light beam subtends an angle of 3-6 milliradians (10-20 minutes of arc) and will have a diameter of 3-6 meters after traveling 1 kilometer. it forms a fairly large optical cone.  Beam Divergence With beam divergence. Both storms and earthquakes can cause buildings to move enough to affect beam aiming. Depending on product design. divergence alone can deal with many perturbations. The problem of swaying buildings can be dealt with in two ways.3:. or spread. . If the receiver is initially positioned at the center of the beam. so that by the time it arrives at the receiving link head.Swaying Buildings One of the more common difficulties that arises when deploying free-space optics links on tall buildings or towers is sway due to wind or seismic activities.

The proper use and safety of lasers have been discussed since FSO devices first appeared in laboratories more than two decades ago. A feedback mechanism continuously adjust the mirrors so that the beams stay on target. This concern. safety is often a concern because the technology uses lasers for transmission. It is more sophisticated and costly than beam divergence method. The two major concerns involve human exposure to laser beams (which present . but this tends to cause only short interruptions. LightPointe uses multi-beam systems (spatial diversity) to address this issue. 5:. 6:. however.Active tracking is based on movable mirrors that control the direction in which the beams are launched.Safety To those unfamiliar with FSO.Physical Obstructions Flying birds can temporarily block a single beam. and transmissions are easily and automatically resumed. to provide for greater availability. is based on perception more than reality. as well as other atmospheric conditions.

they cause traffic jams (which increase air pollution). Connecting the buildings with opticalfiber cost US $100000 . Advantages Of Free-Space Optics  The FSO system requires less than one fifth of the capital outlay of comparable ground-based fiber-optic technologies. To install fiber you have to dig the road. 85 percent of the total figure tied to trenching and installation. displace trees. Optical-fibers are too costly. a service provider can be generating revenue while a fiber-based competitor is still seeking municipal approval to dig up a street to lay its cable.much more danger to the eyes than any other part of the human body) and high voltages within the laser systems and their power supplies. and sometimes destroy historical areas. . Using FSO.$200000/km in metropolitan areas. Street trenching and digging are not only expensive. Standards have been set for laser safety and performance and FSO systems comply with these standards.

 It is flexible.5 Gbps and beyond)  increasing exponentially for the past few years. and is fast (speeds from Demand for bandwidth is increasing and has been 20 Mbps to 2. and low cost. Service providers have been struggling to keep up with such demand. Service providers must extend the reach of metro optical networks. solid security. Conclusion . and FSO offers service providers the opportunity to accomplish this objective. offers freedom.  The primary advantages of FSO are high throughput.

and throughput. Instead of hybrid fiber-coax system. hybrid fiber-laser system may turn out to be the best way to deliver the high capacity last-mile access. .The entire face of the Free-Space Optics community is about to change radically as driven by the need for high-speed local loop connectivity and the costs and difficulties of deploying fibers. FSO can be the ultimate solution for highspeed access. FSO provide higher security. FSO is capable to fulfill the increasing demand of bandwidth.

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