Downhill racing, especially grand slalom, is a fast and dangerous sport, demanding the most of skier and equipment, and requiring the ability to turn quickly, control speed through gates, and stay on course. The metaphor probably won't bear close scrutiny, but I think of a downhill racer as a symbol of the speed, agility, and accuracy needed in the next generation of WDM systems.
Our two articles on dynamic WDM address the need for speed and accuracy head on. Forward error correction is essential for high-speed transmission, and, as Brian Lavallée at Nortel Networks explains, low bit-error rates are made possible by algorithms contained in the data signal itself. Hooman Shakouri at Tunable Photonics then discusses the need for wavelength accuracy in fixed and tunable laser as WDM channel density increases.
None of the anticipated gains in speed or accuracy will be possible, of course, without high-quality components. Frank Vodhanel at Newport shows how automation and comprehensive data tracking can improve manufacturing yield and reduce cost.
Finally, we start a new series this month: Optical Networking. Written by contributing editor Jeff Hecht, the series provides a great introduction to the key technologies and issues, including subjects such as vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, wavelength conversion, solitons, and dispersion compensation. The first article looks at the technologies needed to create an all-optical network.
The past year has shown clearly that the manufacture of components and subsystems is a critical element in the success of optical networking. As a result, you will soon be seeing a new magazine devoted to the subject.
Optical Manufacturing will debut this March at OFC 2002, and will be mailed to qualified subscribers along with their copy of WDM Solutions or Laser Focus World. You'll also find plenty of copies at the show.
In all these magazines you can see that we're publishing information to help you create high-performance WDM systems. I should just warn you that my personal preference in snow is to be strapped in a pair of snowshoes tromping through the woods.
W. Conard Holton
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief