Phaethon Communications launches strategy, products to combat dispersion in optical networks

June 25, 2001
June 25, 2001--Phaethon Communications, a provider of photonics technology, unveiled its vision for addressing the phenomenon of optical dispersion, wherever it occurs in optical fiber, for whatever reason.

Phaethon Communications, a provider of photonics technology, unveiled its vision for addressing the phenomenon of optical dispersion, wherever it occurs in optical fiber, for whatever reason. In addition, the company debuted the first two commercially available products in its ClearSpectrum family of chromatic dispersion (CD) compensators.

The company will demonstrate these two ClearSpectrum compensators at the National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (NFOEC) 2001, a fiber optics industry conference and trade show, in Baltimore, from July 8-12. These initial products, both for 10 Gb/s (OC-192) networks, are a four-channel module aimed primarily at metro network operators and an eight-channel module designed to begin meeting long-haul network equipment manufacturers' needs for higher-channel dispersion solutions.

Optical dispersion is defined as the degradation of optical signals over fiber that makes the signals' data difficult to interpret at the intended receiver. Dispersion's distortion of transmitted information is already a problem in 10 Gb/s networks; by network speeds of 40 Gb/s (OC-768) and beyond, unchecked dispersion threatens performance and brings the networks to a standstill. While dispersion cannot be prevented -- it's an inevitable result of light traveling through fiber -- it must be mediated to restore degraded signals so they can be interpreted at the receiving end of a fiber span.

Moreover, the realities of high-speed network configurations and operations demand that dispersion compensation be tunable, to allow for variations and changes in fiber span lengths, amounts of dispersion in a given fiber span and on individual channels within a fiber, routing paths of signals, environmental conditions of the fiber and other phenomena.

Phaethon is developing and manufacturing a comprehensive suite of tunable, multichannel dispersion compensators to address all the main types of dispersion: CD, slope mismatch (a subset of CD) and polarization mode dispersion (PMD).

The company's CD and slope mismatch products are being built on an ingenious twist on a proven, advanced technology called fiber Bragg gratings, which selectively reflect a narrow range of wavelengths along a fiber while transmitting others. Phaethon's elegant twist for dispersion compensation is called nonlinear chirping. In contrast to traditional (fixed-compensation) fiber Bragg gratings that cannot be tuned, Phaethon's patented approach varies the chirp -- i.e., the spacing of the "etched bands" written near the fiber core - nonlinearly along the grating. Then, a tiny piezoelectric transducer attached to the fiber stretches the nonlinearly chirped fiber Bragg grating to change, or tune, the amount of dispersion compensation of all channels in a wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) system.

Phaethon is constructing chromatic dispersion compensators based on this technology that are precisely and adaptively tunable, on the fly. Phaethon's patented technology also enables multiple channels to be accommodated in a single fiber Bragg grating. In addition, Phaethon's modules inherit the built-in advantages of fiber Bragg grating technology, which include low insertion loss (because all the light stays in the fiber at all times), fiber compatibility (after all, they are made of fiber), reliability (because they have only one moving part), easy manufacturability and operation, small package size and polarization insensitivity.

Phaethon's ClearSpectrum family of chromatic dispersion compensators is designed to meet the most pressing requirements of both metro and long-haul network equipment manufacturers. The first commercially available products in this family are a four-channel module and an eight-channel module, both for 10 Gb/s networks.

Phaethon's ClearSpectrum family of products offers:

* Tunability -- to work with variable fiber lengths and network conditions

* Multichannel capacity -- a requirement for wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) systems

* All-fiber design -- for fiber compatibility

* Low insertion loss - because all light stays within the fiber at all times, Phaethon's modules offer 5 dB of insertion loss or less

* Reliability -- carrier-grade operation designed to meet Telcordia standards

* Simple to operate -- a single moving part (i.e., the piezoelectric transducer that stretches the nonlinearly chirped fiber Bragg grating)

* Small form factor -- our modules have the same small package size regardless of channel count, for simplified integration into optical networking equipment

Pre-production quantities of Phaethon's ClearSpectrum four-channel and eight-channel CD compensators for 10 Gb/s networks will be available directly from Phaethon Communications in Q4 2001, with production levels available by Q1 2002. Phaethon will produce higher channel-count products. Prices vary depending on precise configurations and volume.

About Phaethon Communications, Inc.:

Phaethon Communications has developed a comprehensive family of tunable, multichannel modules to address optical dispersion in both 10 Gb/s and next-generation 40 Gb/s networks. For more information, visit www.phaethoncommunications.com.

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