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The Future of Fibre: Trends, Developments, and Challenges

Date posted: 9 September 2021  –   Category: Fibre Optics

The futurist vision of the next decade is grand. From brain-computer interfaces that blend human insight and machine-driven analytics to simulations you can experience through all five senses, every year reality seems to get closer to the realm of science fiction.

However, such technologies will remain experimental without the support of hyper-fast computing and networking. Virtual reality is a prime example of a technology hobbled by latency, despite its massive potential for nearly all industries.

This is where fibre optic networks will come into play. Once only seen as a means of faster transmission compared to traditional copper cabling, recent developments in the field of fibre optics are seeing these threads of light weaving themselves into the basis of so many future technologies.

This week, Japan broke records for fastest Internet speeds by using a coiled fibre connection to transfer 319Tbps of data over 1,864 miles. The previous record was 179Tbps, achieved by a group of British and Japanese researchers last year.

Next generation fibre technologies like the one above will take a while to come to market. But developments today are showing us how fibre optic networks may evolve in the near future.

More Bandwidth, Faster Speeds

Data scientist Sven Balnojan predicts that in just six years, companies will handle quadruple the  data it does today. And an increasing amount of that will come in from disparate locations, such as devices on the edge that transmit data in real-time. In this environment, speed will no longer only be a nice to have, but a necessity to stay competitive.

Improvements in physical cables and methods of light transmission will be required to break through performance ceilings. “The transmission capacity of optical fibres is so large that we never thought we’d reach the point where we would use it all up. But in the last five to ten years, we’ve realised that we’re now close to doing just that and the impact of Covid-19 has accelerated this further,” says David Payne, director of the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre.

Here is where development in transmission methods like Orbital Angular Momentum (OAM) come into play. OAM, which improves light waves’ capacity to relay data, can increase the bandwidth and speed by up to one hundred times in the next coming years.

Expanding Accessibility

Excavating roads, laying out cables–getting fibre to the premises is a costly endeavour. Indeed, high upfront costs is one of the barriers standing in the way of FTTP adoption. Many feel the costs of installation outweigh their current broadband needs.

Both accessibility and demand are set to change in the future. As the amount of data we consume and generate increases, even consumers will find themselves seeking faster connections. The government is also seeking to ease the financial burden in hopes of incentivising the private sector to build the necessary infrastructure. Telecom giant BT has already announced plans to bring full fibre to 25 million homes in 2026 following generous tax cuts. 

It’s a step in the right direction. An open access fibre network is crucial for realising its potential as a driver of growth for businesses and consequently, the national economy. “Bringing cost effective fibre deployments to a town or city puts them in the fast lane. It changes the way communities do business and helps bridge the world’s digital divide,” says Mark Hurley, Solution Architect at Schneider Electric.

A Revolution Built on Fibre

Technology ushered in the third industrial revolution, enabling newer heights of efficiency and production across all types of industries and entire supply chains. 

With the rise of powerful AI and machine learning techniques, it’s bringing us again on the cusp of another era, one that’s going to be driven less by human input, and more by intelligent machines. Experiments that can revamp entire industries are already underway, like projects to build an automated system for managing British airspace and banking services.

However, for these systems to become truly feasible, AI-enabled machinery needs to coalesce into one cohesive system, not remain “automated islands”. Machines need to be able to communicate with one another in real-time, with little to no latency or disruptions. Because while slow connections are merely annoying to your average user, they can have disastrous effects in a manufacturing plant or air traffic control tower.

Fibre cables, being less vulnerable to interference and allowing for higher throughput than traditional copper cables, lend themselves perfectly to the technical requirements of the Industrial Internet of Things.

5G, Industry 4.0, full fibre nations–much of the future of business is predicated on fast Internet connectivity. With the volume of data we create growing by the terabyte, we can expect demand to propel exciting improvements in capacity and physical infrastructure within the next decade.
TVNET can help you get a head start on building a fibre optic network that’s ready for the performance demands of the future. Contact us to today to find out how we can future proof your business.

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"TVNET have saved us a considerable amount on what we were previously paying to bigger firms whilst delivering a superior installation. I cannot recommend them highly enough as a local networking specialist."