KU researchers hope patent rings in success


Lawrence,KS (11-23-2002)

From Lawrence Journal-World
By Chad Lawhorn



Researchers at Kansas University recently received a patent on technology that could save giant phone companies like Sprint billions in infrastructure costs.

Officials with KUs Information and Telecommunication Technology Center announced this week that researchers Chris Allen, Ken Demarest and Ron Hui have been awarded a U.S. patent for technology that will allow phone companies to send more data through fiber-optic lines.

The research was done in conjunction with Overland Park-based Sprint as part of a continuing relationship the telecommunications giant has with the KU center. It marks the third patent the university has received as a result of research funded by Sprint. Victor Frost, director of the center, said the project should pay off.

I think this one has the most potential to become a commercialization success of all the ones that we have done so far, Frost said. Theres no question the technology will be significant for the industry. It is just a question of when.

The technology addresses a problem called polarization-mode dispersion, or PMD as it is known in the industry. PMD occurs when telecommunications companies try to send data through fiber-optic networks at excessive rates of speed, and the data becomes corrupted.

The KU center created a compensator that reduces PMDs effects. Lead researcher Allen said the technology should allow telecommunications companies to send data through their fiber-optic systems at speeds roughly four times percent faster than current levels.

Allen said the increased speed may result in improved uses for the Internet, such as greater capability to send high-definition video and data. But its biggest benefit may be economic.

Ultimately cost of service may go down because the telecommunication companies will be operating their systems more efficiently, Allen said. The common theme in the industry is everyone wants to figure out how to get more data through their fiber.

Thats what has Sprint officials excited, said Doug Richards, a staff member at Sprints Technology Planning and Integration division.

Everything we price has to do with how cost-efficiently we can transport data across the core of our networks, Richards said. With technology like this, it looks like we can be very competitive in that game.

Richards said in Sprints case the technology was not yet needed because its network is able to handle PMD problems at its current speed. But as usage increases and fiber-optic systems are asked to carry more data, a new sort of PMD solution will be required. Without it, Richards said, companies may be forced to install additional lines of fiber-optic cable, a process that could cost billions.

When you have to retrench and lay new fiber, that can be expensive beyond belief, Richards said.

Neither Richards nor Allen could predict when telecommunication companies would need to start using the new technology, but both said it would be a matter of a few years rather than a few months.

KU assigned the patent rights to Sprint. Richards said Sprint was exploring its options for licensing the technology to telecommunications manufacturers, who could begin building the compensator devices to sell to the industry when they are needed. KU would receive royalties off the technology if it were manufactured, but Frost said it was too early to know how much money it could produce for the university.



For more information, contact ITTC.


Current News | More News | ITTC Newsletter


Partner with ITTC

The Information and Telecommunication Technology Center at the University of Kansas has developed several assistance policies that enhance interactions between the Center and local, Kansas, or national companies. 

ITTC assistance includes initial free consulting (normally one to five hours). If additional support is needed, ITTC will offer one of the following approaches: 

Sponsored Research Agreement

Individuals and organizations can enter into agreements with KUCR/ITTC and provide funds for sponsored research to be performed at ITTC with the assistance of faculty, staff and students.

Licensing and Royalty/Equity Agreement

An ITTC goal is the development of investment-grade technologies for transfer to, and marketing by, local, Kansas, and national businesses. To enhance this process, the Center has developed flexible policies that allow for licensing, royalty, and equity arrangements to meet both the needs of ITTC and the company.

Commercialization Development

Companies with a technology need that can be satisfied with ITTC's resources can look to us for assistance. We can develop a relationship with interested partners that will provide for the development of a technology suited for commercialization.

ITTC Resource Access

ITTC resources, including computers and software systems, may be made available to Kansas companies in accordance with the Center's mission and applicable Regents and University policies.

ITTC Calendar
There are no upcoming events at this time.