Amplify the value of your dark fiber investment with DWDM technology

DWDM technology and dark fiber

Bandwidth needs are expanding at a good clip for long-haul, metropolitan and local access networks alike. Traffic is reportedly growing 50-60% year over year, according to TechTarget, and demand is quickly outrunning supply.

Fiber optic networks have improved the speed, scalability and data capacity needs of these networks. However, cost-effective solutions are needed for scaling existing fiber optic networks to keep up with mounting bandwidth demands.

Rather than having to obtain more fiber, organizations can make their current fiber investment work harder through dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology. For the tech-savvy organization, amplifying the capacity of their current fiber investment with DWDM is the most cost-effective way to keep up with ever-increasing bandwidth demands.

What is DWDM: A brief history and explanation of how it works

While DWDM is a highly complex concept, its essence can be explained simply: It multiplies the carrying capacity of your existing fiber by allowing for the simultaneous transmission of more than 80 signals on one fiber. What once required many fibers to transmit now requires only one.

Here’s a basic explanation of how it works:

There’s a multiplexer and a demultiplexer on either end of a fiber route. The multiplexer receives many signals, assigns a specific and distinct wavelength to each signal, combines them into a single beam and transmits all of them over the fiber simultaneously. All signals travel at the same speed, but different wavelengths.

At the other end, the demultiplexer receives the beam and separates it into the individual wavelengths. In this way, many signals can be combined into one transmittable beam, multiplying the carrying capacity of any single fiber.

Essentially, DWDM technology transforms each single fiber into a bundle of virtual fibers by increasing the number of signals that can be sent at one time over one fiber. Each of these wavelengths allow you to transmit distinct signals over the fiber —  if you have 100 available wavelengths, 100 distinct signals can be sent.

It’s important to note that DWDM is not a new concept. In fact, it’s been around since the 1980’s. Back then, only two wavelengths could be transmitted at a time (1550 nm and 1310), doubling the bandwidth.

DWDM technology has improved immensely since it was first introduced at the tail end of the 80’s. Year after year, the number of possible wavelength channels has increased. Now, there are more than 100 available wavelengths to assign to different signals.

DWDM allows many different vast quantities of data in any file format to be transmitted over a single fiber concurrently. As technology improves, more channels may open up, offering scalability benefits for years to come.

Cost and scalability benefits of DWDM for your network

Although by no means a new technology, DWDM is a cost-effective way to get the most out of your existing dark fiber.

By utilizing the wavelengths at your disposal, you can scale up your network without adding any physical infrastructure (i.e., laying more fiber). Not only does DWDM offer cost-savings, but it also offers substantial scalability and future-proofing benefits for your network as well. Rather than spending money on new fiber, you can optimize the capacity of your existing fiber substantially.

While we don’t provide DWDM technology, as a provider of dark fiber infrastructure in St. Louis, we’re committed to educating area companies on how to get the most out of their fiber networks — and DWDM is one way to maximize the value of your investment in dark fiber.

For more information on how to get the most out of your dark fiber investment, download our desktop guide to dark fiber networking. You’ll learn considerations for planning your IT infrastructure, the best options for financing a dark fiber network and whether a fiber network is a good fit for your business.