Monday, April 17, 2017

Lime is the new Aqua. Welcome Multimode OM5!

Wavelength Division Multiplexing for the Enterprise

If you're not familiar with OM5 Multimode, now is the time to start paying attention.

Last year, Commscope introduced their LazrSPEED Wideband Multimode Fiber (WBMMF), and the ISO/IEC decided the nomenclature for WBMMF is OM5 in October 2016. Last month, the TIA started TIA-598-D-2 to determine lime as the jacket color for cabled WBMMF (TIA-492AAAE, OM5). Now that we have a name and a color, what is so great about this new fiber?

First let's take a look at how this technology has evolved. OM3 and OM4 Multimode was designed with laser optimization to allow greater bandwidth transmissions at a wavelength of 850nm using Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VSCEL). VSCELs were an improvement over Light Emitting Diode (LED) transmitters used with OM1 and OM2 Multimode fiber. LED transmitters and legacy Multimode still have their applications based on the reduced cost of these systems compared to VSCELs, so we may never see its obsolescence.

VSCELs for the enterprise offered a low-cost, high-power solution compared to lasers used in telecom networks for singlemode fiber long-haul transmission. As bandwidth demands increased in data centers and enterprise markets, it was not economical to use singlemode optics due to the high cost per port.

The evidence abounds today of the proliferation of connected devices, and bandwidth demands are ever increasing. Estimates claim that there will be 30 billion connected devices next year. OM5 WBMMF allows for 4 times the bandwidth than legacy OM4. That means the same amount of bandwidth dedicated to 8 fibers on OM4 can now transmit on just 2 strands.

So the debate over 12 fiber and 24 fiber trunk cables has another challenger with OM5. But how does this new fiber achieve the higher bandwidths? The key to OM5 is that it is optimized to operate on 4 wavelengths. Utilizing Shortwave Wavelength Division Multiplexing (SWDM), you can transmit over 850nm, 880nm, 910nm and 940nm simultaneously.

So even if you only plan to use 850nm today, selecting OM5 WBMMF will give you the flexibility in the future to easily add bandwidth without adding more fiber. It is fully backwards compatible to OM3/4.

If you would like to learn more about Wideband Multimode Fiber, Shortwave Wavelength Division Multiplexing and implementation, contact us today.