Acronymically speaking

W. Conard Holton

Executive Editor

cholton@pennwell.com

WDM could, I suppose, stand for "watching dividends multiply," which sounds right, given the scale of capital investment from telecommunications providers (not to mention venture capital funding). I started pondering alternate meanings for the acronym after listening to the chairman and CEO of Ameritech, Richard Notebaert, address the National Fiber Optics Engineering Conference last September in Chicago. He repeatedly referred to "wave-division multiplexing" and what it was doing for bandwidth.

Notebaert`s definition of WDM is probably preferred by marketing departments to the engineer-approved term "wavelength-division multiplexing." Still, the fact that the company chairman was even mentioning WDM indicates just how close to the financial world this esoteric technology has come.

As you`ll read in this issue of WDM Solutions, investing in even one relatively small segment of WDM technology should be enough to entice the most jaded day-trader. Jeff Mongomery at ElectroniCast reports in Marketplace that the value of this segment-optical add/drop multiplexers-will jump from a mere $17.2 million in 1998 to $6.66 billion by 2008.

From this invigorating start, we take on the nuts and bolts of WDM components. Jerry Bautista at WaveSplitter Technologies looks at multiplexing technologies available for metropolitan/access markets, which is the new frontier for what has been a long-haul technology. For designers, simulation may be the best way to optimize transmitter performance-the subject of an article on laser-diode configurations by Joe Shiefman and John Koshel at Breault Research Organization.

Then Robert Waarts and colleagues at SDL show how Raman amplifiers are fulfilling their promise. That old workhorse liquid-crystal technology has taken on a new life as an active component, say Cindana Cornwell and Richard Albert of SpectraSwitch. And Yetzen Liu at Fermionics Lasertech describes an alternative source for testing passive components.

You`ll notice that each of these articles is full of acronyms. In a world that loves to abbreviate, WDM may come to have several meanings. But here, at least, we`ll stick to the one only an engineer could love.

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