Extending usability of old terrestrial fibre optic cables in Third-World Economic Zones

Alix Dehayem-Kamadjeu


Communication Fibre Optic Cables (FOC) experience mechanical perturbations while in service thereby deforming their cylindrical shape and increasing birefringence. This leads to Polarization Mode Dispersion (PMD). This work investigated PMD fluctuations in cables that have been buried underground for more than 10 years in a semi-arid climatic region in Kenya. PMD was measured using EXFO-FTB5700 analyzer at hourly intervals in the target cables for 2,480 hours. PMD coefficient of 0.215 𝑝𝑠√𝑘𝑚⁄ was recorded. Outage margin (𝑀𝑇) of 2.13 for the 10 Gbps system running an On-Off Keying Non-Return-to-Zero (OOK-NRZ) scheme (with 10ps receiver tolerance) was obtained. Similar analysis for the 100 Gbps system running a Dual Polarization Quadrature Phase-Shift Keying (DPQPSK) scheme (with 30 ps receiver tolerance), revealed an outage margin of 6.38. The availability of 99.29 % (corresponding to a downtime of 53.44 hours per year) revealed that, the cable under test could not sustain PMD limitations in a Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) system that is deployed with a 10 Gbps transponder in a non-regenerated fibre span exceeding 450 km. 100 Gbps DWDM systems proved more resilient when using DP-QPSK than 10Gbps when using OOK-NRZ. The outage of 53.44 hours per year in a high capacity traffic system can translate to a substantial amount of losses in terms of credit notes to customers for not meeting the standard service level agreement of 99.999 % service availability. To overcome this limitation, it is recommended that 10 Gbps transponders that use OOK-NRZ channel modulation technique be replaced with 100 Gbps that uses DP QPSK technique to mitigate dispersion related outages in the links. This would also effectively provide a lot of idle capacity that can accelerate digitization of institutions and villages.

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