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Laboratory Project:

Power Budget Modelling for Optical Fibre Systems

Objective:

To develop and utilise a spreadsheet based loss budget model for a

singlemode optical fibre transmission link. The model is to be created in

Microsoft Excel. Singlemode fibre is assumed to allow long distance systems

to be modelled and to avoid the need to include modal dispersion.

Model Overview

It should be possible for the user to define the following system specifications:

Bit rate

Material dispersion

System span in km

Transmitter output power

Receiver sensitivity

Average inter-splice distance

Splice loss attentuation

Number of connectors

Connector attenuation.

The model should allow for either worst case or statistical analysis or a

combination of both to be carried out. This will mean for example that

connector attenuation will have to be specified with worst case, average and

standard deviation values as appropriate.

Total splice attenuation

Total connector attenuation

Dispersion penalty

Received power

Power margin

After completion of the above extensions to the basic model may include:

Optical amplifiers

Optical splitter and other passive components

Other penalties and margins

A simple sample model, based on a worst case analysis is provided in

Appendix A.

contained in Appendix B. Further information is contained in the associated

lecture notes.

Appendix A

Table 1. below presents a simple power budget calculation for the link shown in Figure 1,

which derives the available power margin as an answer. In the columns A and B is the

available or given information, while in columns C and D is the derived or calculated

information.

A B C D

Maximum fibre length available (km) 0.90 No. of fibre lengths needed 77.78

Average loss per splice (dB) 0.08 Total splice loss (dB) 6.14

Notice that a single length of fibre does not span the distance between the connectors at the

transmitter and receiver. Instead fixed lengths of fibre are used, joined by fusion splices. This

is taken into account in the model.

Transmitter Receiver

Legend

Optical Fibre

2. Assuming that a fibre repair margin of at least 2 dB is required, what is the maximum

system span?

3. If the maximum fibre length available is altered to 1.4 km, without altering any other

parameters, how does the power margin change?

4. Use the model to determine and plot the sensitivity of the power margin to changes in the

following parameters:

Fibre attenuation

Connector loss

Transmitter output power

Splice loss

System span

For example for fibre attenuation increase the attenuation from in 2% steps, noting the value

of the power margin each time, then plot the value of the power margin as a function of the

percentage increase in fibre attenuation.

Appendix B

In an optical transmission system the distance between the transmitter and the receiver is

spanned by an optical fibre. If the optical fibre was a perfect transmission medium then both

the operating distance between the transmitter and receiver and the bit rate could be

arbitrarily large. In practice however optical fibre possesses inherent limitations that restrict

both the maximum distance and the maximum bit rate.

If the optical power available at the input to the receiver is too low then the error probability

will become unacceptable. This can be seen in figure 1 which plots the error probability

against the received optical power for a typical optical transmission system. In this figure as

the received optical power increases, for example due to a reduction in fibre attenuation, the

error probability gets smaller, which is an improvement.

One of the major specifications laid down when an optical transmission system is under

development is the acceptable error probability at the planned bit rate. Based on this

specification and on a knowledge of the receiver it is possible to specify a minimum

acceptable received optical power, below which the error rate specification will not be met.

Given this figure for the minimum received optical power the system designer can then

estimate the tolerable reduction or attenuation in optical power caused by the fibre and other

components such as optical fibre connectors and fibre fusion splices. This process is called

power budgeting for an optical transmission system and is considered in the next section.

The development of a power budget at the planning stage of an optical transmission system

is preceded by the specification of a number of important system parameters, which include:

The acceptable error probability,

The distance over which the system is to operate,

The potential for expansion in the future, for example by an increase in the bit rate.

Based on these parameters the system designer can begin to select the basic components

that make up the system. In some cases the designer may have to specify a new component

or sub-system that will then have to be designed and produced. During this process the

designer checks that the system will operate successfully by calculating a power budget for

the optical transmission system. The whole process is iterative and may involve the

comparison of a wide range of solutions using many power budget calculations.

As an example a simple power budget calculation will now be carried out based on the model

of an optical transmission system shown in figure. This may represent the entire system or a

link between regenerators. The fibre from the transmitter is joined by a connector to a length

of fibre, which in turn is joined to other lengths of fibre using fusion splices. At the end of the

link a connector joins the fibre to the fibre that enters the receiver.

Transmitter Receiver

Legend

Optical Fibre

Suppose the output power of the transmitter is +3 dBm and the minimum input power needed

in the receiver to maintain a specified error probability is -41 dBm. This means that a total

reduction in power of 44 dB can be tolerated between the transmitter and receiver. The

reduction is the power budget for the optical transmission system. The power budget is

calculated as:

= + 3 dBm - ( - 41 dBm )

= 44 dB

The power budget of 44 dB is partially used up over the link by attenuation in the optical fibre,

connectors and fusion splices. The remainder is used by a number of other factors, the most

common of which is the power margin. This power margin itself consists of a number of

factors, one of which is a cable repair margin. This is an attenuation value that is included at

the planning stage to allow for repairs to be carried out in the future by the addition of more

fusion splices.

As an example assume that a total distance of 55 km is to be covered and that the system

designer wishes to know the permissible fibre attenuation. If an attenuation of 0.5 dB is

allowed per connector and there are two connectors then the power budget is reduced to 43

dB. If a power margin of 10 dB is to be allowed for, the total loss permitted for the optical fibre

and fusion splices is 33 dB. If fibre is available in 1 km lengths then for the specified distance

55 lengths of fibre will need to be spliced together. This will involve 54 fusion splices, each of

which will have an average loss of 0.03 dB for singlemode fibre. The total loss caused by

fusion splices is therefore 1.6 dB. The total loss in the fibre is therefore 33 dB - 1.6 dB which

equals 31.4 dB. Since the total length of fibre is 55 km, the attenuation per km must be no

greater than 0.57 dB. The complete power budget calculation is shown in summary below.

Power BudgetdB = 44 dB

Less: Connector attenuation = 1 dB

Power margin = 10 dB

Total splice loss = 1.6 dB

---------

A power budget calculation can be used in a variety of ways, for example if the fibre

attenuation was known then a system designer could use a power budget calculation to

determine the maximum distance between the transmitter and receiver or between

regenerators. This distance is called the power-limited distance of the link.

In practice power budget calculations may become significantly more complex for two

reasons:

(i) A number of extra factors may be included in the power budget calculation. For example a

margin may be included to account for variations with temperature and age. The transmitter

output power for example may vary with temperature and decrease with time over a number

of years. To account for this a transmitter degradation margin is included, which is typically 1

dB. This appears in the power budget calculation as if it is a "real" attenuation, whereas in

practice when the system first becomes operational and assuming the temperature is correct

the received power would be 1 dB more than that predicted by the power budget calculation.

(ii) All the power level and attenuation values used in the power budget calculation above are

average values. When the optical transmission system is installed some variation in these

values will naturally take place. The system designer has little control over such variations

and therefore must resort to statistical techniques to ensure that the power budget calculation

is realistic. In a statistical power budget calculation the designer will not only use an average

value for a quantity, but also a value called the standard deviation s, which is a statistical

measure of how actual values vary from the average value. How the standard deviation is

used depends on the quantity in question, however for attenuation values the system

designer is concerned with values that are above average. For example 84.13% of the values

are contained between zero and one standard deviation (1s) above average, 97.73% within

2s above average and 99.87% within 3s above average. In power budget calculations,

generally, the 2s value is considered the worst case value.

Ignoring the statistical nature of component performance by using worst case values, in every

case can create extremely over-conservative designs. If for example, in finding the total loss

caused by fusion splices, the worst case loss for a fusion splice is simply multiplied by the

number of splices involved, the result would be a figure for the total splice loss that would

virtually never occur in practice.

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