Next Generation Multimode Fiber Gains Support

PaulKolesar Paul Kolesar December 9, 2014

FiberSupportThe past couple of months have been an exciting time in the world of fiber optic technology. In a recent blog, I mentioned that we have been working with our partners on new technological advancements in support of optimizing high-speed transmission over multimode fiber (MMF), including a next generation that we refer to as wide band multimode fiber (WBMMF). Since then, we have seen significant activity taking place regarding initial standards proposals.

At the October meeting of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) TR-42 committee on structured cabling, CommScope and its partners presented two contributions on this topic. The first contribution was co-authored with OFS and Finisar and supported by Avago and IBM. The second was co-authored with Prysmian. These contributions shared much in common, as both provided rationale supporting the utility of WBMMF and wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) as complementary technologies to parallel transmission. Both outlined the wavelength span necessary to support at least four wavelengths with sufficient bandwidth to allow transmission of 28 Gb/s on each wavelength to at least 100m while retaining support for existing applications operating at 850nm. They also showed measurements of actual fiber meeting the outlined specifications, and transmission results indicating superior performance at wavelengths longer than 850nm of the WBMMFs compared to OM4. This is the highest performing standardized MMF to date.

Avago presented its own contribution that covered bi-directional transmission enabled by WDM. This presentation supported the concept of using WDM near 850nm by showing a currently deployed multimode transceiver operating at 20 Gb/s per wavelength.

After these presentations, CommScope proposed to initiate a project to develop a WBMMF specification. The proposal received significant support and the work will be carried out by a task group with joint oversight of TR-42.11 (Optical Systems Subcommittee) and TR-42.12 (Optical Fiber and Cables Subcommittee). The task group will hold regular meetings, both face-to-face and by teleconference, and the output will be a new fiber specification to be published as TIA-492AAAE.

At the subsequent meeting of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 86A Subcommittee on Fibers and Cables in November, a number of proponents of this initiative invited participation from the international community. Members of the European and Asian countries asked to participate in the TIA task group work.

Clearly this proposal has sufficient participation and interest to move forward with focus and persistence. CommScope will continue working to define a robust fiber specification and will continue working with WDM transceiver vendor partners to ensure that these two technologies will bring unprecedented capacity while maintaining the value that multimode transmission has always offered for short-reach communications channels.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the WBMMF and WDM initiatives, leave a comment below and I will be sure to get back to you.

About the Author


Paul Kolesar

Paul Kolesar is an Engineering Fellow in CommScope’s Connectivity Solutions division. He chairs the TIA TR-42.11 optical systems subcommittee and actively contributes to the development of industry standards for structured cabling, fiber optics and Ethernet. He holds patents on high-speed multimode transmission, optical patch-panel design and array connectivity supporting parallel transmission.  Prior to CommScope, as a distinguished member of technical staff at Bell Laboratories, he developed PBX circuit packs, designed fiber optic multiplexers and led systems engineering for optical fiber structured cabling systems.

Kolesar conceptualized and drove the standardization of laser-optimized multimode fibers (OM3 and OM4), for which he received the IEC 1906 Award in 2011.  These fibers, referenced within Ethernet and Fiber Channel standards, constitute the great majority of optical media installed in data centers today.  He also drove the standardization of wideband multimode fiber (OM5), which optimizes the capabilities of short-wavelength division multiplexing.