WDM to the rescue

In his 1957 novel Homo Faber, Swiss writer Max Frisch defined technology as "the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it." It's a challenging observation that I've often pondered in the midst of using computers, mobile phones, cars, and planes, not to mention producing a magazine on telecommunications. Technology can remove or reduce many of the immediate experiences of life, such as time and distance. The speed and capacity of fiberoptic networks surely contribute to the stresses we all feel by making more tasks possible in business and by enabling the Internet with all its multitasking options and e-mail.

The redeeming side of technology derives from the services, efficiencies, and common good it renders, and here optical communications is a half-finished business. Long-haul optical networks, most based on WDM technology, bind distant people, organizations, and businesses, but the metro and access markets are a hodgepodge of technologies and capabilities that are only beginning to offer many end-users high-speed bandwidth and services. And it turns out that WDM technology is again an important participant, as our contributing writers explain.

Frank Levinson at Finisar shows how CWDM is becoming alluring to local carriers and enterprise providers, and can be upgraded to greater capacity with DWDM, if necessary. According to the article by Eric Schweitzer at Harmonic, CATV networks benefit from WDM, especially in a partially centralized network architecture delivering video-on-demand. Finally, Djafar Mynbaev at the City University of New York explains how passive optical networks based on CWDM technology and single-wavelength provisioning offer many cost and service advantages.

Technology may remove some of the unmediated experience of time and distance, but if the results are better integration of communications into our lives, that's not such a bad thing.

W. Conard Holton
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief

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