EUROPE: New technology = faster communication

European research institutes have developed a new telecommunication system that will allow for transmitting and receiving of information at a higher speed and more efficient cost.

Funded by the European Union, the high-speed electro-optical components for integrated transmitter and receiver in optical communication project began in 2006. Allocated EUR2.6 million, it has since demonstrated a simpler means of upgrading and operating 100 Gigabit Ethernet networks.

The aim of the project was to create a system where only one wavelength, thus one laser, was required in transmitting and receiving information compared with the current system of telecommunications which uses four lasers to create four separate wavelengths that equal 100-gigabit when combined.

Having one laser that alone can operate a 100-gigabit system will cost less and allow for a faster transmission and receiving of communications said Dr Colja Schubert, a researcher for the project at the Heinrich Hertz Institute.

"[Fraunhofer's Heinrich Hertz Institute] was responsible for testing the receiver and also for developing the special component within the receiver which is electrical converter within the receiver," Schubert said.

The institute has completed testing of the receiver using what Schubert calls a reference transmitter. This transmitter was a perfect model whose seamless functionality provided researchers with a controlled environment to detect any errors or problems in the receiver, Schubert said.

Nokia Siemens Networks coordinated the project which brought together Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Acreo AB and Syntune AB, Fraunhofer's Heinrich Hertz Institute and Institute of Applied Solid State Physics and u2t photonics AG in Germany, DTU Fotonik in Denmark and the University of the Peloponnese in Greece.

In a few years, Schubert expects the components developed during the project, as well as the converters created at the institute for the receiver, could be profitable as 100GbE becomes the standard for telecommunications.

"We might be able to transfer this technology to different companies and then have some profit or benefit in terms of licensing," Schubert said.

Aside from the main functions within the telecommunications industry, the receiver device and the other components developed as part of the project could also be used as testing devices for telecommunication signals.

With standardisation being introduced by the end of this year, Schubert said the next step was to go beyond 100GbE.

"From a research perspective you have to already think about the next step, so what will be the next step after the 100GbE?"