AT&T Continues Optical Systems Research
The rise of 3G and 4G wireless telecommunication and data services at almost the same time that the photonic “bubble burst” happened in the 1990s caused many companies to shift research towards wireless networks and put less emphasis on improving the efficiency, capacity, and other factors of optical systems.
Despite popular belief that companies such as AT&T have taken a complete halt on photonics research, there is an Optical Systems Research division of AT&T right here in Middletown, NJ, that investigates potentials of long-haul, wavelength division multiplexed networks as well as extending the reach of conventional time division multiplexed networks using hybrid amplification techniques (thoughstretching the standard notion of a PASSIVE optical network).
A summary of their current research interests can be found here: http://photonicssociety.org/newsletters/aug11/RH_ATnT.html.
Here’s one nice passage from the article, which indicates the number of fiber miles AT&T owns, and that the typical bit rate on their systems are 40 Gb/s:
“AT&T operates one of the world’s largest fiber optic networks, with more than 886,000 fiber route miles worldwide for access, metro, long-haul and trans-oceanic communications. AT&T’s global backbone network carries more than 23.7 petabytes of data traffic on an average business day. The continental-US backbone network includes more than 340,000 wavelength-miles of 40 Gb/s transport. The Optical Systems Research Department in Middletown NJ, consisting of 10 full-time researchers, explores optical-layer innovation pertinent to all segments of this extensive network, with an emphasis on forward-looking topics critical to AT&T’s mission.”