Greater Lafayette Information Technology Society

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by Bob Verplank, Computer Visions

Fiber Optics: January 2010

Steve Belter
Indiana Dataline

The program was presented by Steve Belter of Indiana Dataline, LLC. Indiana Dataline is a company that furnishes fiber-optic connections for Wintek Corporation, schools and businesses in the greater Lafayette area, the downtown Lafayette area, and as far south as Carmel and Indianapolis. Dataline provides the fiber and Wintek provides the light for the fiber. Or one might say Wintek provides the electronics. Bandwidth can be provided from 1 to 10 to a 100 Gb per second rate. The current state of fiber connectivity allows 32 different colors to be supported, each capable of providing a separate transmission without affecting the other. The general state of the industry states that prices are rising for copper wire and falling for fiber connection. Generally speaking the electronics on fiber are cheaper than the electronics on copper, especially at the higher speeds.

Applications include wide area networks, Metro area networks, local area networks, Internet, telephone and TV connection known as a triple play, video and teleconferencing, off-site backup, disaster recovery, business computing, and cloud computing. As we pass speeds of 1 Gb per second in bandwidth copper is being replaced with fiber. Only fiber will achieve speeds in excess of 1 GB per second.

Fiber comes in a multitude of sizes and connections. There is 9 µ, 50 µ, and 62 1/2 µ fibers. A typical cable might be 144 strands of 9 µ fiber each capable of carrying 3.2 Tb per second of data. Connector styles include SC, LC, and ST types. They were each described and passed around the room. Colors might include 650, 850, 1310, and 1550 nm wavelength. Fiber transceivers include media converters, GBIC, and SFP. A typical single mode fiber can carry signals approximately 60 miles or more without any amplification.

The fiber has dangers for both the eyes and the fingers. The laser feeding a fiber may transmit an invisible beam which is potentially injurious to the eye. The broken fibers can easily penetrate a finger and cause great pain but may not be easily seen. Switches may be addressable and thereby remotely checkable, but are more expensive than non-managed switches. Dense-wave division multiplexing (DWDM) can be used on the cable at 1550 nm plus or minus 10 nanometers.

Fiber is glass. If it must be joined, it must be fusion spliced. This process can routinely be done today by a number of individuals and companies with the right equipment. Sharp bends in fiber should be avoided. The light tends to go to the outside of the curve on sharp curves and the fibers can even be broken with a sharp bend. Since the transmission is by light, care must be taken to have clean connections. The transmission of data is not hindered by wet cables. Some tools were shown including a visual fault locator. A visual fault locator may be effective up to about 1 mile. As the name implies a laser is beamed into the fiber and traced to the far end. We also have a power meter tool and an OTDR or optical time domain reflectometer. This device dependent on quality will cost from $5000-$25,000.

Where is fiber now? We have fiber to most schools and government buildings now. In downtown Lafayette we are building out the infrastructure for use by a growing number of clients. Maps: Lafayette – West Lafayette Fiber Map (PDF, 10/18/2010) and Lafayette Downtown Fiber Map (PDF, 10/15/2010).

The network continues to expand with primary focus on Wintek customers with T1 lines, customers who need the speed, or to customers close to the backbone. Wintek is experimenting with residential fiber to the home or FTTH. For those who missed a previous GLITS meeting Verizon FiOS is not coming.

Monthly costs should be competitive with the monthly costs of Comcast. TV service will be provided by Mulberry Telephone. The goal of Indiana Dataline is to offer better service and to be cost competitive with Comcast, Verizon, One COM, ATT, for point-to-point circuits. Emphasis would be on high-speed data transmission with an upload and download speed of equal size.

There were a number of questions and answers given on various businesses, sites, services, speed of delivery, bandwidth, and costs. Some mention was made of the transfer of copper from Verizon to Frontier communications which is expected this summer.

There were 21 people in attendance. Puccini's continues to be a great site for meetings.

We all left to go home and watch Purdue beat the University of Illinois at basketball on our high definition TVs. This too may be a service offered by Wintek and Lafayette Dataline in the future.