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 Free-flowing traffic on the information highway

This story is from the category Connectivity
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Date posted: 17/12/2013

Our information highways are becoming increasingly busy places: according to the German Federal Network Agency, in 2012 Germans sent 4.3 billion gigabytes of data through the virtual transport network via broadband. In addition, around 140 million gigabytes were transmitted over cellular net- works. At the same time, the requirements for transmission quality and speed have been growing. Primarily as a result of data-intensive applications such as multimedia content, today’s communication networks are sometimes pushed to the limits of their capacity – and there is a real danger of traffic jams on the information highway. In future, only an improved infrastructure will suffice to quickly and reliably transport the growing masses of bits and bytes. However, as with conventional transport- ation, simply building new “roads” is not a realistic option with these virtual networks. “The available radio frequency spectrum is already largely exhausted in many places. This means that we have to use the existing frequencies more efficiently,” explains Dr. Klaus-Dieter Langer from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute, HHI in Berlin. The same goes for the landline network: exploiting existing capacities with state-of-the-art technology is often cheaper than laying new cables.

Consequently, Langer and his team are working on transmitting more information in less bandwidth. To achieve this goal, they are testing out new modulation formats for fiber optic transmission technology. These are methods for accommodating as many bits as possible in a frequency unit. The simplest modulation format consists of a sequence of the values 0 and 1, which is achieved by switching the transmission signal on and off. The researchers’ concepts may involve adding several intermediate values, for instance, in order to obtain a higher bit rate. “Although complex modulation formats often seem very promising in theory, they can turn out to have unexpected effects when we test them,” says Langer. In order to test the practicability of new transmission techniques, researchers usually use signal gen- erators as found in circuit design. More sophisticated versions – arbitrary waveform gen- erators or AWGs for short – are capable of creating random sequences of signals. Such a tool can make life much easier for researchers and developers. “Otherwise, we would have to construct specific circuits for the required signals. And that would be far too time- con- suming, particularly with complicated signal forms,” explains Langer.

See the full Story via external site: www.fraunhofer.de



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