As part of its 40thanniversary observance, the CommScope team
set out to identify the top 40 innovations that have come from CommScope (or
one of its acquired companies) over the past 40 years. We are unveiling the
innovations chosen for the Top 40 on CommScope Blogs through early January.
Read more about the overall program and selection process in this November 4 post.
continue today with our unveiling of innovations—in alphabetical order—that are
ranked 11-20. You can see a list of the Top 40 innovations already revealed on our 40thanniversary
page. As our 40th anniversary year draws to a close, we hope you
enjoy looking back at what we think are our top innovations—ones that have
helped build the world’s infrastructure of today and tomorrow.
opinion about or connection to any of the innovations? Leave a comment below.
CommScope’s Top 40 Innovations—Grouping 11-20
optical fiber is a
type of optical fiber mostly used for communication over short
distances, such as within an office building or data center. Compared to
single-mode fiber, which is used mostly for long distances, multimode fiber
enables lower cost systems because of the relative ease of physically aligning
light sources and detectors to its larger core.
Year of the
What is the innovation that CommScope or one of its acquired
companies was first in creating?
In 1996, a team at AT&T’s Bell
Laboratories developed a new measurement technique called high-resolution Differential
Mode Delay (DMD) that launches laser light across individual sections of a
fiber’s core to determine its behavior. This new measurement technique was translated
into fiber selection criteria, and enabled production of the first
laser-optimized multimode fiber in 1999 which AT&T promoted under the SYSTIMAX and LazrSPEED brands. The International Standards Organization (ISO/IEC JTC 1) incorporated
this fiber into what became known as OM3 cabling because this fiber was the
first multimode fiber that could reliably support high-speed applications using
lasers. OM1 and OM2 supported LED-based applications but were not reliable for the
higher rate laser-based applications that ran at 1 Gb/s and higher. OM3 became
the multimode cabling of choice for 10 Gb/s Ethernet applications published by
IEEE in 2002.
This innovation arose from AT&T’s Connectivity Solutions
division, which was part of what was divested by AT&T into Lucent
Technologies, then divested further into Avaya and finally acquired by CommScope in 2004. We have subsequently driven
development and production of fibers for OM4 cabling introduced in 2004 and
standardized in 2009, and most recently fiber for OM5 cabling introduced in
2014 and standardized in 2016. The fiber in OM5 cabling is the first multimode
fiber specifically designed to assure high bandwidth across an extended 100 nm range
of wavelengths thereby enabling support of at least four separate lanes on one
multimode fiber using a technique called short wavelength division multiplexing
(SWDM). By transmitting data rates of 10 Gb/s or 25 Gb/s on each of the four
wavelengths, application rates of 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s can be supported. This
significantly reduces the amount of fiber needed and enhances the value of each
strand of fiber.
What was happening in the market that this innovation was
Data center and enterprise local
area networks were evolving beyond 1 Gb/s Ethernet in the late 1990s. Doing so
required the transition from slower LEDs to faster but still low-cost Vertical
Cavity Surface Emitting (VCSEL) lasers. While LEDs will fill up the entire
fiber core with light, VCSEL lasers would focus the light onto a smaller
portion of the core exposing the more granular variation within fibers. It
became evident in the market that new measurement techniques and more advanced
process control would be necessary to reliably support ever higher data rates
on multimode fiber. Our OM3 cabling provides about four times the bandwidth as
prior OM2 cabling. Our OM4 cabling provides another 2.35 times the
bandwidth of OM3 cabling. Our OM5 cabling optimally enables SWDM to deliver at
least four separate lanes thereby further quadrupling capacity of each strand
How did this
innovation benefit customers and the industry?
OM3 made 10 Gb/s Ethernet transport practical. Subsequent
OM4 fibers provide support for 25 Gb/s at useful lengths, which enables 100
Gb/s Ethernet over four parallel fibers. OM5 fibers enable the use of 100 Gb/s
on each fiber as well as a roadmap towards 400 Gb/s over four parallel fibers. The
combination of multimode and its compatibility with VCSEL lasers have ensured the
lowest system cost for short distances.
Did this innovation
act as the springboard for other innovations, and if so, how do they all tie
Laser-optimization of the fiber is the fundamental
technology that enabled development of OM3, OM4, and OM5 cabling. Following the
introduction of OM3 cabling in the late 1990s, CommScope delivered OM4 cabling in
2004 (standardized in 2009). OM5 cabling was demonstrated in 2014 and was
standardized by the TIA in 2016. Each newer version is completely compliant to
the previous version’s specifications and adds higher capability that has
tracked data rate evolution from 100 Mb/s to 100 Gb/s. Taken together, these innovations
have enabled an unbroken chain of fiber performance evolution for the past two
What is the
significance of the innovation for CommScope?
By becoming one of the top suppliers of laser-optimized
fiber cabling for enterprises and data centers, CommScope has developed a
worldwide reputation as an innovator in fiber technology.