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Closing the Gap To Improve the Capacity of Existing Fiber Optic Networks

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the building-it-better dept.

Technology 53

cylonlover writes "A team of researchers working through Australia's Centre for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) has developed data encoding technology that increases the efficiency of existing fiber optic cable networks. The researchers claim their invention, which packs the data channels closer together, increases the data capacity of optical networks to the point that all of the world's internet traffic could be transmitted via a single fiber."

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Yeah (1)

Cow007 (735705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392587)

That's what she said

Re:Yeah (2)

mjwx (966435) | about a year and a half ago | (#43398579)

Mr president, we cannot afford to have a fibre gap.

At which point the demand for higher definition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43392619)

content would quickly absorb the new new leap in technology to the margin of market profitability.

High Speed for who? (4, Insightful)

trazom28 (134909) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392637)

Now we just need more locations to actually *have* fiber, or some similar high speed bandwidth. My in-laws can only get celluar (unreliable), and satellite isn't worth it. They are just within range of DSL if the phone company would do the upgrade - and there are several customers on their street that would happily switch - apparently not enough for them to spend the dollars to do the upgrade.

Upgrades only are cool if everyone has the opportunity to use it.

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392705)

This is for core long haul transport, not your in-laws house.

Re:High Speed for who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43392757)

Google is going to run this to everyone's house. I think they are making an announcement this week about Austin, TX.

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

trazom28 (134909) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392985)

My point being, why upgrade the long haul transport when we can't get everyone on? Build a bigger highway for the same amount of cars.

Re:High Speed for who? (2)

medv4380 (1604309) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393133)

Except fiber happens to be the preferred medium for the High Traffic parts of that Highway. Reducing congestion in the higher trafficked areas improves the performance of the network as a whole which improves your in-laws network performance as well. Try not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I'm sure the phone company loves not being able to turn on any of that lovely fiber they over provisioned in the 90s because of these advances.

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

trazom28 (134909) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393635)

Won't improve the neighbor down the road who can't afford the high speed alternatives (dish or cellular) and is stuck on dialup, on old copper, that gets about 24K connections, on a good day. I get that it's going to improve the backbone - it'll probably help me, as I have great DSL service, but it's only going to filter down so far. Local telcos need to suck it up and do the upgrades.

Re:High Speed for who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393269)

Because the long haul line usage is growing? More and more people are getting better access to high speed internet, but regardless of how many people who can't access, those that can are increasing their bandwidth use.

Re:High Speed for who? (3, Informative)

Miamicanes (730264) | about a year and a half ago | (#43395781)

> My point being, why upgrade the long haul transport when we can't get everyone on?

Because dark fiber isn't equally-available to network service providers. Lots of small, disruptive companies managed to buy up a couple of dark fibers in the days following Worldcom's collapse, before bigger companies snapped up most of the remainder to hoard and maintain scarcity. If a dozen small, disruptive companies that own a fiber or two apiece can make that one fiber do the work of 8, it really doesn't *matter* whether it would be cheaper to just use cheaper and simpler modulation methods on 8 dark fibers than to use exotic equipment to multiplex 8 times the data onto one. In the real world, if you aren't Verizon or AT&T, the cost of acquiring 7 more fibers is likely to be a lot higher than the cost of buying expensive electronics gear and stacking 8 times the data onto the one you already have.

Here's another example: back in the late 70s, the amount of money a big company with offices in New York and Chicago paid to MCI for a virtual trunk line connecting their PBX systems in the two cities was WAY more than what it cost AT&T to actually own and operate a comparable inercity trunk line.. but the amount charged by MCI was less than AT&T charged, and it ended up being several orders of magnitude cheaper for employees in New York to make Chicago calls by picking up their desk phone, connecting directly (via MCI) to their company's PBX in Chicago, hitting 9, and dialing the local Chicago number, than it would have been to have just directly placed a long-distance call through AT&T and paid their per-minute charges and taxes to make the call.

As my dad explained it to me (he used to work for MCI), it was technically against AT&T's TOS back then to run your own intercity bridge and use a PBX in one city to make calls from another... but the Carterfone decision made AT&T's authority to dictate such terms legally questionable, the FCC was in no mood to enforce such terms anyway, by the time the feds started to care about lost excise tax revenue even medium-sized companies were doing it, and AT&T was hoping that if it quietly behaved itself and didn't cause a fuss, it might be able to avoid getting broken up. Later, MCI built switching centers where they allowed companies like IBM and Ford to just lease a colocated PBX (maintained by MCI) so they could purchase leased trunk lines into cities like Miami where they didn't have a direct presence, followed by a whole chain of incremental steps that allowed companies to share their local POP, trunk lines, and pool of local POTS lines with other companies, until finally MCI just started offering outright bulk prepaid long-distance service to companies. At that point, you still had to jump through hoops that basically boiled down to "dial a local number to connect to a local PBX, dial the desired number, let the system switch you over via private trunk lines to the destination city's PBX, which connected you to a local phone line, dialed the local number on your behalf, and connected you to it"... but it worked, and allowed large (and eventually, medium-sized, gradually extending to smaller) companies to place long-distance calls for a fraction of what AT&T charged.

Put another way, the way disruptive companies like MCI did an end run around AT&T was more expensive than the internal efficiencies enjoyed by AT&T, but ended up being cheaper for end users because AT&T didn't pass those efficiencies along, and instead milked them for every mononopolistic rent-seeking penny they could. The same is true with fiber. If you own a fiber and can use it however you please, being able to multiply its capacity is HUGELY disruptive to larger companies whose business plan is to maintain artificial scarcity and keep prices high.

More importantly, much of the local impetus comes from disruptive companies like Google who have more backhaul than they know what to do with who then turn around and make it available to end users in a city like Kansas City. Without the backhaul capacity, local fiber would be almost meaningless... and once the local fiber exists, people in other places start to scream for it. If inventions like this accomplish nothing besides forcing AT&T to start pair-bonding and deploying more and more neighborhood-scale VRADs to get VDSL2 speeds up to 100mbps by putting a fiber within 500 feet of 80% of Americans, we'll still be better off for it. Today, there IS kind of a fine line between "super fast" and "ego masturbation", and for most households, it falls somewhere between 100 and 250mbps.

At some point, AT&T will decide that it's getting silly to keep hanging expensive, fragile boxes from poles and connecting them to $300-500 worth of customer premises equipment via old cat3 wires, and just lay new fiber to a few central locations and terminate them into a $50 fiber-ethernet media converter at each house. Fiber has a hefty up-front capital cost, but once it's there, it's not really going anywhere for a hundred years as long as it's buried and doesn't get cut... as opposed to more and more sophisticated VDSL schemes that require more and more fragile, expensive active hardware further and further out in the field.

Re:High Speed for who? (2)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392993)

This is for core long haul transport, not your in-laws house.

My in-laws' house is for core long haul transport, you insensitive clod!

Re:High Speed for who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43392829)

even if your in-laws get fibre I strongly doubt they will get DWDM capable dark fibre.

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393145)

It's hard to fight against down-paid infrastructure, particularly since many people just aren't that heavy bandwidth users. But at least here in Norway the telcos that used to lay copper now lay fiber, the cable companies that used to lay coax now lay fiber and the power companies for the most part started with fiber, there's really nobody left that puts anything else in the ground except for maintenance and hooking up the odd new house to the old network. The places that are too distributed for fiber cell phones and 3G/4G broadband are cheaper than copper and coax. So if we just wait for the "natural" life span of buildings and networks it'll happen, but in order to go even faster the ROI must be there. But there's progress being made because the land-line service here in Norway has lost 70% of its customers since the peak.

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year and a half ago | (#43397355)

You need to add, over valued, debt burdened infrastructure, which will drop prices to cripple any new start up who enters the market at their most critical, high capital investment and low revenues. Basically the US and a whole bunch of the rest of the globes, telecommunications infrastructure is run by psychopaths who don't give a fuck about anyone or anything other than their own inflated salaries and bonuses. They corrupt the democratic process to protect this bullshit because otherwise the democratic process would force change to ensure the telecommunications structure provided fair and equitable access that would promote open communications and national development. They do this as a monopoly or via cartels to ensure grossly inflated profits with fuck you customer service.

PR, marketing agencies, lobbyists and politicians try to gloss over this, but painting shit doesn't really change it, it just temporarily makes it shiny, poke it just a bit and the coating fails and the stench comes out. So you get the worst possible telecommunications infrastructure that greed obsessed psychopaths can get away with, admittedly while lying, cheating and stealing to achieve it. This continues until sufficient counter pressure is put on government to force change ie computer geeks and nerds go on a media blitz attacking, denigrating and exposing each and every politician at all levels that are opposed to forcing change and ensuring a national to the home fibre optic broadband network fucking yesterday.

Re:High Speed for who? (0)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393275)

One word for you: Move.

If there's no availability of a particular service which you require in an area you've moved to or live in, you have a choice. Move, or STFU. Stop making this someone else's problem.

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393537)

Remember that, when your farmers all move. Or lumberjacks, or fisherman. Its kind of easy to live in the city, since everyone out in the country ships stuff to you. Moving is not a choice for many people, especially in rural areas, where you might have to move dozens (or even hundreds) of miles to get somewhere with internet. HUGE swaths of the US have no real internet. Its kind of like electricity and roads before WW1.

Hell, I live 5 miles from a major city, and have only rural wireless ISP. I was lucky to find them, and their 1Mb/s for $65/month. ATT can't even tell me who to talk to about what it would take to get my 100 house subdivision hooked up with DSL. There are DSLAM's 1 mile in either direction, and their call centers can't tell me anything, because they are all clueless.

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393763)

This. The "move to the city if you require internet access" seems the modern equivalent of "move to the city if you require electricity" or telephones or what-have-you... if it was technically impossible or even difficult to get internet access out to rural areas, fine. But it's NOT. It's relatively easy. It's the same argument that should be used against telecoms capping mobile data. It's not a hard problem to solve; it's just that they don't do it... and slashdotters would likely get upset if the answer was "hey, if you don't like Verizon, just move to Canada! You have a choice."

Forcing the choice between semi-rural, even, and urban living is pretty silly when it's entirely technically feasible... even financially feasible. It's almost like saying that if you want a good education for your kids, just move to the city. Rural people don't need education, they just farm! ...

I actually live a couple miles from a commuter city to Silicon Valley. I have three options - Verizon mobile, LOS wireless (which is what I have, and it's expensive - $160/mo for 1.5mbps down/384k up), or Satellite. I'm also technically within the required distance for 1.5mbps DSL, but there's a load coil on the line somewhere. I live in a semi-rural community with many $1m+ homes. The ironic part is that it took a local DSL company to tell me this; Verizon, of course, couldn't say why they couldn't give me DSL. Maybe this whole monopoly thing isn't a good idea...

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#43398547)

It isn't that easy to get internet to rural areas. The technology exists, yes - but the business case isn't strong. In the city, you can run a cable along a street and it'll pass straight past a hundred or more potential paying customers - the cable is expensive, but their subscription fees pay to lay it. In the country, you might have to lay thousands of meters of cable in order to reach just one subscriber. Unless that subscriber is obscenely wealthy, it's impossible to turn a profit on that. Even in a small town, the population density is much less than in a city. The only viable option is a wireless service - I notice that all three of the examples you give as your options are wireless - but these face a severe technological disadvantage: They are vulnerable to interference, offer a fraction of the bandwidth a fiber or even multitap coaxial can provide, and suffer from contention. You're paying $160 for a connection most city-dwellers would laugh at, and you're only a few miles out of town. Truely rural america still consists of vast swathes of farmland or near-virgin territory, dotted around with small towns and homesteads. If you're a couple miles from a commuter city, you're only suburban.

Internet service is a commercial operation: Providers aren't going to set up service they can't make money on. This has happened before, when electricity became an infrastructure - providers wouldn't offer service in rural areas, because the money to be made couldn't possibly cover the cost of setting up the cables. That problem was solved by throwing tax money at it: The government established a Rural Electrification Administration to heavily subsidise (mostly via very-low-interest loans) construction of power and later telephone lines to rural areas. Today only the most remote, isolated dwelling is without access to grid power, thanks to that subsidy... but that sort of government involvement is expensive, and everyone pays.

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | about a year and a half ago | (#43453019)

Truely rural america still consists of vast swathes of farmland or near-virgin territory, dotted around with small towns and homesteads.

Correct, I'm not *really* rural, I thought "semi-rural" was an okay description. I wouldn't say I'm suburban though, at least not in the California (or, I should say, not in the "coastal" and "near large cities" California definition). Basically all the houses in my area have at least one acre, most have 2 to 4, some have upwards of 10-15 or even 20. That's pretty big for this area as a whole, until you get out in farming communities. So, no, not *really* rural ... but, apparently, we're rural enough that Verizon does not really care. I think there's money to be made out here, even if it was just DSL... but they don't even want to do that much. (I'm trying again, though; apparently, resellers can sometimes bug the managing telecom enough that they replace the loading coils).

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

Buelldozer (713671) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393705)

So when the all coal miners move to get high speed intarwebz what will you do when the lights go out on the East Coast?

Re:High Speed for who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43394889)

So when the all coal miners move to get high speed intarwebz what will you do when the lights go out on the East Coast?

Solar panels?

Re:High Speed for who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43395341)

stop coughing?

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

trazom28 (134909) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393753)

They have an established successful business run out of their home, that requires rural setting and outbuildings. It's been challenging to expand to their national base of customers with unreliable high speed. Some of the other neighbors in the area are in their 70s, and happily use the internet as much as it allows them, but moving isn't a possibilty, nor should it be. Also, not everybody chooses to live in a city. See the post by QuantumRiff for an excellent example of how the world works outside of your corner of it.

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43395275)

corner? probably the whole basement.

Re:High Speed for who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43394969)

Your in-laws have opportunities to use fibre. Either spends hundreds of thousands for cable to be laid or move. People have choice, its just that they often don't like the compromises they would have to make.

Re:High Speed for who? (1)

twistofsin (718250) | about a year and a half ago | (#43397997)

I live an 1/8th of a mile from locations that have had 40mb DSL for years but I can still only get 1.5.

I play 45/month for 50mb but .. I pay 50c/gig over 100 gigs.

Yes, it's cable.

Putting more D in DWDM (3, Interesting)

Shatrat (855151) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392655)

Looks like a Super Channel implementation. Not really a novel concept for next gen > 100Gigabits per channel DWDM systems.See here for example. http://www.lightwaveonline.com/articles/print/volume-29/issue-2/features/superchannels-to-the-rescue.html [lightwaveonline.com]
More power to them if they're making good progress, though.

Latency? (3, Funny)

mortonda (5175) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392683)

all of the world's internet traffic could be transmitted via a single fiber.

Um, sure, that's easy.... but how long will it take?

Re:Latency? (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392713)

Is that a trick question? Speed of light * refractive index of the fiber.

Re:Latency? (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392751)

Whoops, speed of light / refractive index, otherwise time travel possible.

Re:Latency? (5, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392773)

Whoops, speed of light / refractive index, otherwise time travel possible.

Time travel is possible -- it's just that so far we've only figured out the forward, linear kind. ;-)

Re:Latency? (3, Funny)

Shatrat (855151) | about a year and a half ago | (#43392791)

Or, the non-linear time dilation effects of tequila.

Re:Latency? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393195)

Tequila, the only alcohol you have to be drunk to drink.

Re:Latency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393285)

Or, the non-linear time dilation effects of tequila.

It still only moves you forward in time, but at rate of about a month per night.

Re:Latency? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393301)

Actually with relativistic effects we've already figured out non-linear time, go faster and time will pass more slowly.

Re:Latency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393069)

all of the world's internet traffic could be transmitted via a single fiber.

Um, sure, that's easy.... but how long will it take?

Mod up for funny!

Re:Latency? (4, Funny)

jc42 (318812) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393091)

all of the world's internet traffic could be transmitted via a single fiber.

Um, sure, that's easy.... but how long will it take?

And how long would it take for the first backhoe to come along?

Re:Latency? (2)

jc42 (318812) | about a year and a half ago | (#43395725)

[H]ow long would it take for the first backhoe to come along?

Funny, perhaps, but there's a serious problem hidden in the phrasing "all of the world's internet traffic could be transmitted via a single fiber." Most people would naturally consider this a major achievement, but in fact it would be a major mistake.

Back in 1986 (12 Dec, I googled it ;-) all of New England (the one in the US, not Australia ;-) was cut off from the rest of the network for half a day. This was thought unlikely, because there were seven different cables connecting the northeast to the rest of the country, and what was the probability that they'd all be down at once? But the comm company that supplied the "cables" (AT&T) had implemented "virtual cables". They had cleverly routed all the traffic through a single cable, and a worker in New Jersey cut it.

This has become a textbook example for a lot of design issues. The main one is that the software has to be able to see down into the lower "levels", to make sure this hasn't been done. If the high-level software can't see down into the physical layer, as the "design" folks often insist is the only correct design, then there is no way to write code that detects such problems and throws out warnings that a failure is likely.

Another lesson is that you can't trust the hardware. The people responsible for the hardware will do this sort of thing whenever they can get away with it. It saves them money, and they don't even have to lower prices for customers who can't detect what's been done.

The Internet was designed from the start with multiple routes everywhere. The commercial world hasn't implemented this part of it very widely. As a result, there are often only a single path between two sites, and the network is constantly plagued by outages that wouldn't happen if the software could just "route around the damage", and the saying goes. But hardware is expensive, and companies install the minimum that they can get away with.

The world is slowly coming to rely on the Internet. If we want it as reliable as its designers (the US DoD) intended, we should object to every suggestion that any traffic be handled by a "single fiber". Yeah, it might sound impressive, but it's actually dangerous. Instead, we need to find ways of forcing the hardware companies at the bottom to build the needed physical redundancy, so that when that single fiber fails, the software will reroute the traffic in a millisecond or so, and only the company's workmen will have to know that someone cut it with the proverbial backhoe.

Re:Latency? (1)

Wolfrider (856) | about a year and a half ago | (#43406423)

--Oh, for mod points... You should be +5 Insightful

Re:Latency? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#43398565)

Just put it on top of Westminster clock tower, and relay via wireless. Safe from backhoes. You get the best signal up there, anyway.

So they've patented it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43392715)

And are going to bludgeon everybody into submission, like with WIFI? Well that was CSIRO to be exact but...

Well don't worry folks, if the patent application is properly done, our children get to enjoy speedy networks in 20 years...

*SIGH*

Please remove the new mobile interface (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43392779)

Before you gave us the option, now you're forcing this shit on us! This new UI is awful, please revert it or ill take my page views somewhere else.

Re:Please remove the new mobile interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43395715)

I agree please give us the option.

mod do3n (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393037)

Fre3BSD showed [goat.cx]

Woot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43393215)

And now that all the traffic in the world goes through 1 fiber optic connection, governments will want to control this 1 cable.

And my WiFi AP does 600 megabits.... (1)

WizADSL (839896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43393745)

And my WiFi AP does 600 megabits....

Re:And my WiFi AP does 600 megabits.... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#43398575)

That's only between their own products, at two meters range, in an EM-shielded enclosure, on a way when Jupiter aligns with Mars and the antennas are sprinkled with pixie dust. The real stuff, too, not that sugary substitute.

Silly Australians (0)

caspy7 (117545) | about a year and a half ago | (#43394575)

They spelled "Center" wrong...
Someone should tell them.

Pity there is no real fiber in Australia (1)

Dr Black Adder (1764714) | about a year and a half ago | (#43394697)

If we ever get our fiber NBN, flag me as interested. :S

Re:Pity there is no real fiber in Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43394999)

Yes, because us Australian's don't want higher speed transcontinental links /s

i do something similar (1)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about a year and a half ago | (#43395157)

When i pack my packets, the heavy ones go on the bottom so the lighter ones don't get squooshed. This decreases latency tremendously.

Fibre (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43406599)

"...increases the data capacity of optical networks to the point that all of the world's internet traffic could be transmitted via a single fiber."

This would be freakin' nice if only I could get fibre at my place. As it is, this will be good for the person who buys my house in another thirty years.

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