Wednesday, 9 March 2016
Australian Universities Announce Collaboration on Fibre Research
Three Australian universities have announced a joint project that will enable six researchers and their teams to collaborate on fibre research that could have a significant impact on long-haul communications using optical fibre networks. The three universities involved are Monash University, the University of Melbourne, and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
The universities hope to create a test bed for their research that would include a fibre optic link between the three schools, running from the city centre to the south-east limits of Melbourne. With that link established, researchers can test various fibre optic modulation and data transmission techniques that they believe will improve performance over long-haul networks.
According to researchers, all three schools possess the technical capability to transfer large amounts of information on in-house fibre optic networks and at comparably fast speeds but, when they attempt to transmit the data to external points, significant degradation weakens the integrity of the data stream. They are looking to establish a dedicated link in order to test their new techniques under real-world conditions. That requires moving out of the lab.
Creating Better Overseas Networks:
The ultimate goal of the Australian project is to create better overseas networks using existing infrastructure. If they can develop new techniques, combining both fibre optic and electrical data transmission using existing undersea cables, they could speed up intercontinental communications without the need for costly infrastructure replacement.
Those goals notwithstanding, some are wondering why the universities need an exclusive network on which to test their technologies. Researchers say they need a dedicated network for two reasons:
Firstly, they do not want the work they will be doing to interfere with existing data communications on public networks.
Secondly, they need to be able to control information flowing through the networks in order to put their new transmission techniques through the right kinds of tests. A real-world simulation on a dedicated network will allow researchers to progress more quickly than they would by using public networks.
Productivity without Adding Cost:
Assuming researchers get permission to build their network and that their tests prove successful, what they are hoping to achieve could dramatically improve the productivity of network communications without adding any cost to infrastructure maintenance and development. This is important in Australia, where fibre connections between cities and towns are limited. But, as the researchers point out, it is even more important to undersea networks.
Companies have already spent hundreds of millions on establishing reliable intercontinental networks by laying expensive fibre optic cables across the seas. Being able to utilise those cables more effectively is far more profitable than having to pull them up and replace them with something new. Proving this is possible is, ultimately, what researchers at all three universities are after.
Right now, it appears as if all systems are close to getting the research under way. Rest assured, the telecommunications industry will be keeping a close eye on how the network performs and what kinds of techniques the researchers have come up with.