The question that entities with older fiber have to ask, is will it support the higher bit rates that are increasingly demanded? Speaking at the SmartGig Bay Area conference, the Fiber Optic Association’s president, Jim Hayes, made a strong argument for testing and characterizing fiber cable to understand its performance at higher bit rates. As he points out in the above interview, factors such as wind can effectively change the waveguide characteristics of the lightguide, causing bit errors at higher rates.
Hayes points out that these characteristics can be used to measure wind speed or even when a train is coming (or, in a soon-to-be published Viodi interview, how it can be used as an element in a highly accurate inertial guidance system). That fiber has its limitations, particularly as the bit rate increases, is also why it is important to be able to insert Forward Error Correction (click for an example to see a demonstration of FEC) to correct for intermittent errors that wouldn’t appear at lower bit rates (e.g. going from 1 gigabit/second to 10 gigabit/second).
The focus of Hayes and the Fiber Optic Association is to ensure that the workforce of tomorrow understands all aspects of fiber from theoretical to practical. As such, the FOA works with industry, government agencies, community colleges, universities to develop curricula that meets the needs of students, regardless of the age or industry. And Hayes points out that, whether communications, smartgrid or the factory floor, fiber is a fundamental ingredient of many sectors of the present and future economy.