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Proceedings Paper

Availability of free-space optics (FSO) and hybrid FSO/RF systems
Author(s): Isaac I. Kim; Eric J. Korevaar
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Paper Abstract

Free Space Optics (FSO) has become a viable, high-bandwidth wireless alternative to fiber optic cabling. The primary advantages of FSO over fiber are its rapid deployment time and significant cost savings. The disadvantage of FSO over fiber is that laser power attenuation through the atmosphere is variable and difficult to predict, since it is weather airports, the link availability as a function of distance can be predicted for any FSO system. These availability curves provide a good indication of the reasonable link distances for FSO systems in a particular geographical area. FSO link distances can vary greatly from desert areas like Las Vegas to heavy-fog cities like St. Johns NF. Another factor in determining FSO distance limitations is the link availability expectation of the application. For enterprise applications, link availability requirements are generally greater than 99%. This allows for longer FSO link ranges, based on the availability curves. The enterprise market is where the majority of FSO systems have been deployed. The carriers and ISPs are another potential large user of FSO systems, especially for last-mile metro access applications. If FSO systems are to be used in telecommunication applications, they will need to meet much higher availability requirements. Carrier-class availability is generally considered to be 99.999% (5 nines). An analysis of link budgets and visibility-limiting weather conditions indicates that to meet carrier-class availability, FSO links should normally be less than 140m (there are cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas where this 99.999% distance limitation increases significantly). This calculation is based on a 53 dB link budget. This concept is extended to the best possible FSO system, which would have a 10 W transmitter and a photocounting detector with a sensitivity of 1 nW. This FSO system would have a 100 dB link margin, which would only increase the 99.999% link distance to 286 m. A more practical solution to extending the high availability range would be to back up the FSO link with a lower data rate radio frequency (RF) link. This hybrid FSO/RF system would extend the 99.999% link range to longer distances and open up a much larger metro/access market to the carriers. It is important to realize that as the link range increases, there will be a slight decrease in overall bandwidth. To show the geographical dependence of FSO performance, the first map of FSO availabilities contoured over North America is presented. This map is the first step to developing an attenuation map for predicting FSO performance, which could be used in similar fashion to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)/Crane maps for predicting microwave performance.

Paper Details

Date Published: 27 November 2001
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 4530, Optical Wireless Communications IV, (27 November 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.449800
Show Author Affiliations
Isaac I. Kim, Optical Access, Inc. (United States)
Eric J. Korevaar, Optical Access, Inc. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4530:
Optical Wireless Communications IV
Eric J. Korevaar, Editor(s)

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