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Optical Level Controller
The smart way for receiver sensitivity testing with controlled optical power level
An Optical Level Controller is a powerful measurement tool to control optical power or to keep it constant. The OLC is a combination of an optical attenuator, optical power meter and control software. Using a monitor coupler for the optical power meter, the instrument can be used as an in-line tester, getting the information of the launched power at the input, the optical output power (controlled) and the actual attenuation. Of course, the OLC can also be used as a stand-alone optical attenuator and power meter. The combination of both functions – most of the attenuator applications are to control power, rather than the attenuation itself – helps system engineers and technicians to solve their measurement task in a more efficient way. Measurement time can be cut from minutes or hours down to seconds. Optical attenuators are essential and basic components used to adapt and control optical power in many different applications. Attenuators come in different types dependent on the application they are used in. Fixed attenuators are the most basic ones used wherever the power has to be reduced by a certain amount and space and cost is critical. Variable attenuators allow the adjustment of the attenuation value and therefore offer more flexibility and a wider range of applications but they are also more expensive. A powerful extension feature is the automatic control of the attenuator device. Attenuators are used as part of systems as well as standalone measurement tools. Typical measurement applications where variable optical attenuators are used are simulation of line loss, power adaptation to system interfaces as well as receiver sensitivity testing. Measurement test set-ups often require an optical power meter in addition. This is because power level values are required for evaluation and interpretation of the measurement results.
Coupler Variable Optical Attenuator
Optical Power Meter
figure 1 Optical level controller
Most recent measurement equipment products now include a variable optical attenuator and a power meter functionality in one instrument. With the information of the optical power meter it is also possible to control the variable optical attenuator automatically by means of a feedback loop. The figure below shows the block diagram of a controlled variable optical attenuator. This device can be also described as automatic level controller (ALC) – or in the optical domain as Optical Level Controller (OLC) – which can provide a controlled, stable optical power level at the output port. Using this type of instrument helps system engineers and field technicians because the measurement set-ups are easier and faster to do which saves time and money. They have to connect just one instead of two instruments. Especially receiver sensitivity testing is an example where an Optical Level Controller can be used as an useful tool to speed up measurement and to simplify test set-up.
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Receiver sensitivity testing
This test aims to guarantee certain error levels at extremely low input power levels to meet systems design objectives. Receiver sensitivity is the minimum acceptable value of average received power at a receiver input to achieve a 1 x 10-10 or 1 x 10-12 bit error ratio (BER) according to ITU-T G.957. The general test set-up is given in the following figure.
Tributary Side Rx DWDM Line Side Rx Rx
Optical Tx Test Pattern
OLC-65 Optical Level Controller
ONT-50 OTN Module 2.5/2.7G FEC
Remote Control (optional)
Figure 2: Receiver sensitivity test set-up with remote control
Each receiver unit (e.g. at the end of a DWDM link) has to be tested separately. The SDH/SONET/OTN bit error ratio tester (ONT-50 equipped with OTN Module 2.5G/2.7G FEC) provides a pseudo-random binary sequence (PRBS) test pattern (e.g. 223-1) to feed the receiver under test (Rx) via the Optical Level Controller. The signal BER will be determined after the receiver. The input power at the receiver under test is increased until a BER of just little better than 1 x 10-10 is achieved. Power level values and corresponding BER values are recorded. The measured data points for a typical receiver allow an extrapolation (waterfall curve or straight line dependent on scaling of BER axis) in order to predict the BER in regions where direct measurements would require very long measurement times. Measurement time can be cut from minutes or hours to seconds.
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An example of an OC-48 long-reach avalanche photo diode (APD) receiver can be seen in the following figure. The receiver sensitivity can be determined at about -32 dBm for a BER of 1 x 10-10 (or 31.4 dBm for a BER of 1 x 10-12). The non-linear scaling of the BER axis allows a linear regression as extrapolation method for the individual measured data points.
Figure 3: BER vs. optical input power for determination of receiver sensitivity
Receiver sensitivity testing may be done in the field as part of system acceptance testing as well as in the lab during component and line card design or during system verification testing. For this reason an optical handheld instrument with manual or remote operation capabilities offers the most flexible and economic solution as it can be used in both environments. Using an Optical Level Controller in this type of test set-up offers some significant advantages for system manufacturers and network providers: – One instrument instead of two – the Optical Level Controller comprises a variable optical attenuator and an optical power meter. – Avoids errors – measurement set-ups with two separate instruments have been often carried out by either re-arranging optical connections or by using external couplers. Using an Optical Level Controller helps to avoid errors through multiple re-connections or uncertainties through external couplers. – Saves time – simplified test set-ups with one instead of two instruments and simultaneous operation of attenuator and power meter makes handling faster and easier. – Extended functionality and flexibility – the Optical Level Controller can be used to provide a controlled optical power level for BER readings at pre-defined levels. In the longer term, a solution which provides the combination of a variable optical attenuator and an optical power meter together in an Optical Level Controller helps system manufactures and network providers to save time and money for applications like receiver sensitivity testing. An Optical Level Controller helps to solve their test requirements in a smarter way through simpler test set-up and more flexibility.
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Receiver sensitivity standards: – ITU-T G.957 – ANSI T1.105.06 – Telcordia GR253
All statements, technical information and recommendations related to the products herein are based upon information believed to be reliable or accurate. However, the accuracy or completeness thereof is not guaranteed, and no responsibility is assumed for any inaccuracies. The user assumes all risks and liability whatsoever in connection with the use of a product or its application. JDSU reserves the right to change at any time without notice the design, specifications, function, fit or form of its products described herein, including withdrawal at any time of a product offered for sale herein. JDSU makes no representations that the products herein are free from any intellectual property claims of others. Please contact JDSU for more information. JDSU and the JDSU logo are trademarks of JDS Uniphase Corporation. Other trademarks are the property of their respective holders. ©2005 JDS Uniphase Corporation. All rights reserved. 10143182 500 1005 OLCTEST.WP.OPT.TM.AE
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