The global telecommunications industry is rapidly being transformed by the development and deployment of “free space optics (FSO)”. FSO is line-of-sight technology that uses invisible beams of light to provide optical bandwidth connections. These enhanced connections can then send and receive voice, video, and data information in data streams of up to several terabits per second.
Supporters of FSO technology claim that laser optical communication systems offer a much narrower and more focused beam than traditional radio frequency (RF) solutions. In addition to higher data rates and greater capacity, FSO also offers greater security and smaller, lighter and more affordable terminals.
DARPA sponsored more than US $ 130 million of research as part of this effort, with the ORCA and ORCLE programs. By an employee of the US Federal Government – DARPA ORCA Concept Art, Public Domain, Connect.
A recent forecast from the Market Insight report shows that the global FSO market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 38.9%, from $ 86.2 million in 2016 to $ 1.2 billion in 2024. The report cites the cost. reduced deployment; resistance to electromagnetic interference; High bitrates with less or no errors and high security are among the key factors that give technical advantage to FSO communications and trigger the growth of the global market.
The cost of 3G and 4G connectivity via FSO is reduced. And as a result, its application is growing in the defense and health sectors. Research by companies in Germany and the United States appears to be leading the way. The latest developments include a key innovation in data transmission by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and European telecommunications provider ADVA Optical Networking SE which was announced in May. This satellite-based innovation is touted as an important step in the development of stable and high-speed satellite communications.
In a systems test, ADVA and DLR set a new record for data transmission using free-space laser technology. The test simulated a geostationary satellite link and achieved a data rate of 13.16 Tbps over a distance of 10.45 km. Commenting on the results, Christoph GÃ¼nther, Director of the DLR Institute for Communication and Navigation, said: âOne of our main goals is to enable global connectivity, and this test is a major contributor to achieving this. goal. The transmission range and data transmission speed with 13.16 Tbit / s are almost eight times higher than the previous DLR record.
Other developments are claimed by Honeywell and Ball Aerospace. In April, the two companies announced that they were working together to develop and produce high-performance, high-reliability optical communications data links that will enable satellite operators to offer enhanced connectivity in terms of capacity and data throughput. Together, the two companies will establish serial production of optical terminals for ground-to-space, spacecraft-to-spacecraft, and spacecraft-to-aircraft communications. Initially, the two companies will target the American market.
However, FSO technology faces certain obstacles. For example, its range may be limited by adverse weather and climatic conditions, including fog and, to some extent, heavy rain and snow. However, these limitations are now overcome. ADVA and DLR claim that despite the extreme atmospheric turbulence seen during the test, their platform was able to compensate for them and transfer huge amounts of data. ADVA’s FSP 3000 CloudConnect platform was used for the trial, while DLR provided the free-space terminal technology.
The United States-based Airborne Wireless Network (AWN), meanwhile, is working on the use of commercial aircraft for its network of wholesale carriers capable of generating wireless Internet signals. She has established various partnerships to develop; design; test and manufacture a custom hybrid synchronized laser communication system. The system will serve as a link between planes and ground stations to form a chain of signal repeaters and routers within its airborne mesh network concept.
In December, GE Aviation became AWN’s last partner after signing an agreement to supply tactical-grade inertial units with integrated GPS that AWN will use for heading, pointing and stabilizing its communications system. AWN says it has made a lot of progress towards the development of the FSO element. And in May 2017, it demonstrated the first successful âproof of conceptâ test when it used two Boeing 767s and RFs in a high-speed air-to-air / air-to-ground link. The next phase will be to increase the bandwidth with the addition of the FSO element and also to undertake a test of 20 aircraft.
AWN considers the most important and targeted applications to be part of the wholesale wireless broadband business model for providers of broadband capacity telecommunications and Internet access services. âBy employing the FSO, we will potentially use a 10 gigabit path initially and a 100 gigabit bandwidth path,â the company said. The company intends to begin deployment of the system soon after testing 20 aircraft.
As internet traffic continues to increase, the global free space optics market will continue to grow. And in this case, even more exciting innovations and free space optics applications can be expected within the FSO technology space in the years to come.
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