Smart Buildings

Unleash the Potential of Multimode Fiber without Recabling

Virak Siev and Amadeusz Gawronski
OMPlex technology from Modular Photonics has the potential to boost data capacity by up to 1,000 times—at a fraction of the cost of recabling.


Legacy multimode fiber can be found in many buildings today—from hospitals and schools to stadiums and offices. But it has a data-rate capacity limit, which means it can only carry a certain amount of information at a certain speed across a specific distance.


Multimode infrastructure can’t support data speeds of 1 Gb/s or higher across distances of more than a few hundred meters. As a result, it can hold organizations back from responding to modern demands and moving technology-driven projects forward. Innovations like virtual reality, 5G and artificial intelligence—and even basic cloud services and high-definition streaming video—aren’t always possible over the multimode fiber that many facilities still rely on.


The only way to resolve this problem is recabling: replacing multimode fiber with singlemode fiber in long links. Right? While that may have been true years ago, there’s a new option to consider when recabling isn’t possible or practical.


The Complexity of Fiber Recabling Projects

Simply replacing multimode fiber with singlemode fiber can be disruptive, expensive and time-consuming, depending on the situation and application. Here are a few examples.


It Creates Disruption

When fiber trenches are buried beneath parking lots, sidewalks, playgrounds, ponds or roadways, or when fiber is run above ceiling tiles or within walls, it can be difficult to gain access to all the links that need to be replaced. The work associated with uncovering, removing and replacing fiber cables can cause ripples of disruption ranging from noise and debris to inconvenience and productivity loss.


It Can Be Expensive

Even replacing a simple, accessible short link can be costly when it comes to material and labor. In addition to demolition and reconstruction of facility infrastructure, trenching may also be involved. As a result, installation costs can rise exponentially.


It Takes a Long Time

Even if your organization follows a planned upgrade path for fiber recabling, that plan can rarely be completed in a short period of time. It can take months—or years—to finish the work.


Depending on the location, permits may also need to be drawn up before the project can begin, which further extends the timeline.


Unlock Existing Data Real Estate

In the past, building owners had two choices to consider for their multimode systems:

  • Recable and live with the challenges listed above
  • Operate within the limitations of legacy multimode fiber

Now there’s a third option to consider: Put legacy fiber back into the game by extending its operational life.


OMPlex technology, available from Modular Photonics, has the potential to increase data capacity by up to 1,000 times—at a fraction of the cost of upgrading from multimode to singlemode. In other words, it boosts legacy multimode fiber speeds so it can perform like singlemode fiber. Because it runs on a passive optical chip that manipulates and manages data signals, it doesn’t require power to function.


By solving the modal-dispersion problem that prevents multimode fiber from carrying data quickly across long distances, the technology enables 1 Gb/s, 10 Gb/s, 25 Gb/s, 40 Gb/s and even 100 Gb/s speeds on multimode premise networks across distances of up to 2 km.


OMPlex is compatible with all multimode fiber types deemed suitable for upgrade, from pre-OM fiber to OM5, as well as with several types of fiber connectors, including LC, SC, FC, ST and MTP connectors.


As a plug-and-play, rack-based adapter system, OMPlex typically takes less than an hour to install. It can be deployed by trained in-house IT teams, integrators and contractors.


Is OMPlex an Option for You?

While this technology won’t work in every fiber recabling project, it may be a possibility to consider when your project aligns with these four conditions:

  • You own your LAN infrastructure
  • You have a legacy multimode network
  • You need higher network speeds
  • You have timing issues or can’t operate amid disruption


Learn More About Fiber Recabling Alternatives

To see how well OMPlex technology works in real-world situations, we were recently involved in a test installation at the Université du Québec à Montréal—and we were impressed with the results. It allowed FDDI fiber to perform at speeds of 100 Gb/s at a much lower cost than fiber recabling.


If you need to increase your data speeds but fiber recabling isn’t possible, then Belden can help. We work closely with Modular Photonics, the creator of OMPlex technology, to help owners, integrators and contractors prepare enterprise networks for the future and extend the life of cable plants.


Want to read the entire story and find out how the test installation went?



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