Stand up for your axioms

Sep 1st, 1999

W. Conard Holton

Executive Editor

cholton@pennwell.com

The laws of physics not withstanding, I often think that the common, garden-variety axioms are the best explanation of how the world really works. Some axioms are metaphysical, like the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Others are just vague, like the law of unintended consequences, which, coincidentally, is illustrated by what has happened to WDM technology. In this case, a relatively simple yet elegant way of transmitting multiple wavelengths of light over single-mode fiber was first advocated by Will Hicks in the early 1980s. Who could have foreseen the results two decades later in the mad scramble for the Internet, the urgent demand for more bandwidth, and the creation of a new industry?

I mention the first axiom about parts and the whole because it, too, is reflected in WDM technology. Simplistically, at least so far, we can look at WDM technology in terms of parts (components, modules, fiber, test equipment) and the whole (long-haul and metropolitan networks). WDM Solutions-a supplement to Laser Focus World-is about the parts.

We intend this publication for designers, engineers, and engineering managers who want to know how the parts work, how they work together, and what the choices are for solving design challenges. In the first issue, we start off with a view of the DWDM system marketplace from Neil Dunay, an analyst at KMI Corp.-and what a view it is, topping $2 billion in 1998 and growing more than 20% each year for the foreseeable future.

Two of the technical articles look at the trends in transmitters and passive components, which Ray Nering of Lucent Technologies and J. J. Pan and colleagues at E-Tek Dynamics, respectively, think reveal an increasing integration of functions. Jocelyn Lauzon and his colleagues at INO describe one way in which the faithful engine of WDM- the optical amplifier-can be optimized. Finally, EXFO`s Olivier Plomteux looks at methods for characterizing passive components and filters.

The supplement is topped off by a listing of some of the many new products flooding the market. And it is the products-or parts-after all, that make WDM possible. So, contrary to a certain axiom, I`d argue that in this case, the parts are at least as great as the whole.

P. S. Let me know what you think of these articles and what you`d like to see in the next issue of WDM Solutions.

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