As part of the Acreo-led EU ALPHA project, scientists at Luceat, Telsey and Politecnico di Torino (POLITO) in Italy have demonstrated a system transferring Gigabit Ethernet over a plastic optical fibre (POF), a media very much similar to a fishing line.
Driven by various emerging broadband services, end-users’ demand for transmission bandwidth increases more than 70% per year and is thus pushing towards more powerful home networks; at this rate, soon Gigabit per second links will be required inside all apartments. One way to meet this increasing demand is the use of Plastic Optical Fibres (POFs). POF links look much alike fishing lines and are thin, robust, easy to install and can be laid even inside existing power ducts. POF advantages have been recently tested in the framework of the Acreo-led EU ALPHA project, thanks to pilot installations in real-life environments by Acreo in Sweden.
“The “fishing line” is about to become a part of our home network, replacing traditional Cat5/6 cables, due to its smaller dimensions, immunity to electromagnetic interference and the fact that there is no need of connectors” says ALPHA co-ordinator Dr. Mikhail Popov at Acreo.
Commercially available POF products offer Fast Ethernet (100 Mbit/s) over up to 100 meters. Within ALPHA, the researchers from Italian companies Luceat and Telsey have experimentally demonstrated error-free transmission at 1Gb/s over 50m (a distance sufficient to cover most home networking requirements) of standard duplex step-index POF cable using low-cost off-the-shelf components. Luceat transceivers have been integrated and tested in a Telsey residential gateway, and industrialisation is expected to follow rapidly.
Current POF solutions are based on two small fibres (two “fishing lines”), whose overall cross-section is less than 1/5th that of a Cat6 cable. Within the ALPHA project, the research group at POLITO has gone one step further, demonstrating a transmission system that uses one single fibre for bi-directional transmission, so that the cable diameter can be reduced to only 2.2 mm. This system will greatly ease the installation of the cable, in particular when the existing ducts, typically the best place for a home network, are too crowded.
The one-fibre system has been tested with real real-time Gigabit Ethernet traffic up to 75 metres. This system is a laboratory prototype, which requires some years of further engineering before the concept can be applied in industrial products.
For further information please contact:
- ALPHA co-ordinator Dr. Mikhail Popov at Acreo
- Prof. Roberto Gaudino at Politecnico di Torino, Italy
About Alpha project
The ALPHA project investigates innovative architectural and transmission solutions based on the manifold of optical fibres (single-, multi-mode and plastic) as well as wireless technology to support both wired and wireless services in a converged network infrastructure. The focus is on using the newest physical layer achievements, architecture solutions and adequate control and management to reach a yet unprecedented end-to-end provisioned capacity for access and in-building networks at a fraction of the price of today’s technologies and to simultaneously include the transport of existing 2G/3G and Beyond 3G (B3G) signals whether they are Internet Protocol (IP) or non-IP-based.
Acreo is one of Europe's top research companies providing breaking edge results within the field of electronics, optics and communication technologies. Turning academic research into commercial products, Acreo offers value-adding technology solutions for growth and competitiveness in industry and society. The types of assignments are ranging from feasibility studies, long term research projects, prototyping and small scale production, to verification and testing. Acreo also supports small and medium sized companies with technology transfer, business networks and financial advice. Acreo is part of Swedish ICT and has about 145 employees located in Kista (headquarter), Norrköping and Hudiksvall in Sweden.
Luceat designs and manufactures Plastic Optical Fiber (POF) cables and POF-based communication devices, such as media converters and switches. Its products are being used in the security and video-surveillance markets, as well as for industrial automation and networking. Luceat also develops and sells to manufacturers the know-how required to make their products (such as video cameras, Ethernet switches, Internet gateways, set-top-boxes etc.) work with POF.
Telsey is a leading company in the design and production of Access Gateways, IP-Video Stations, Home Networking solutions and products for Mobile Connectivity. Since the beginning, Telsey’s activity has always been characterized by focus on innovation and ability to rapidly exploit emerging technologies in new products. Today the company has a customer portfolio which includes important network operators at European level and is consolidating its presence in the segment of broadcasters and retail market. Telsey headquarters are located in Treviso, Italy.
About Politecnico di Torino
Politecnico di Torino is one of the main Engineering Universities in Italy, having enrolled in 2010 29.300 students studying on 96 courses, 18 of them being held in English. The Electronic Department, inside which this research was carried out, has an excellent track in scientific and technological research, demonstrated by the participation to many EU projects and by four ISI Highly Cited scientists working in the institution.