Optical fibre networks are central to business telecommunications, with ever increasing demands to transmit data for such applications as videoconferencing.
But the ideal of ‘optical fibre to the desk’ has been difficult to achieve. Local area networks within offices have tended to continue to use copper wire because of the ease and flexibility of connection. A computer can simply be plugged in to a copper wire network. Making optical fibre connections requires more skill and more time and is, therefore, a more costly job.
The Volition optical fibre cabling system could change all this. Developed by 3M and BATM Advanced Communications, it is designed to allow users to ‘plug and play’, making it easy to move workstations and making upgrades easier.
Central to the system is the new VF45 connector. Similar in concept to the standard BT telephone socket, it automatically connects fibres in the correct orientation.
At the computer end, the system includes a transceiver or media converter, developed in association with Honeywell and Siemens, to convert the optical fibre data into a signal compatible with an Ethernet or token ring network, without the need to modify the PC or replace any boards inside it.
The system has been driven by the fact that copper networks are reaching capacity limits, 3M. says. It is being considered as an industry standard.