BITS & BYTES: PMD Patent


Kansas City,MO (11-12-2002)

From The Kansas City Star
By David Hayes



Making faster better
(Part of column that discusses KU)

Three University of Kansas professors have patented a technology they developed that eventually could help make high-speed traffic on the Internet more efficient.

The technology will allow companies like Sprint Corp., which sponsored the research, to send information across long-distance fiber-optic lines at 40 gigabytes-per-second or faster.

The research was done by Chris Allen, Ken Demarest and Ron Hui, all faculty members with the KU Information and Telecommunication Technology Center, and two ITTC students.

Formally known as a "Method and Apparatus to Compensate for Polarization Mode Dispersion," the technology solves a problem known as "polarization-mode dispersion," which causes errors when data is sent across fiber-optic lines at speeds above 10 gigahertz.

Fiber-optic cable carries data in the form of light, and -- using a single pulsing laser -- billions of bits of data can be transmitted each second. However, when the signaling rate is increased to tens of billions of bits per second, errors become a problem, Allen said.

"The patent is a tangible example of the successful and productive relationship Sprint and KU have enjoyed over many years," said Doug Richards, with Sprint's technology planning and integration division. "This specific patent and the intellectual property behind it represent a solution for a particularly significant technological challenge facing all long-distance network providers."

Richards said the polarization error problem isn't troublesome for Sprint right now because the company currently limits speeds to 10 gigahertz. However, he said, as traffic increases on the Internet, higher speeds will be necessary to move it.

"Forty gigahertz will come about in time, and we're preparing for that eventuality," Richards said. "We're ready. We now can stake a claim."

The KU solution fixes delivery problems by cleaning up corrupted information before customers use it.

"While PMD has not been a problem on the Sprint network, some other network operators are currently facing capacity limitations" caused by polarization, Allen said.



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