DWDM: how colored light brings you more services

Blue_Tech_Background_smallerFirst, don’t be scared off by the name. Sure, Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) sounds a little intimidating (and it’s quite a tongue twister!) but it’s actually easy to understand. The bottom line is that it’s a technology that’s allowing TDS to bring you more advanced services, faster. Stick with us for a second and learn about it—it’s pretty cool stuff (and hey, it could come in handy to know for trivia night or the next time you play Trivial Pursuit!).

To understand DWDM, think about a tin can telephone. Back when fiber was first deployed, most connections were made in a way not unlike this simple telephone. Network equipment was connected by a fiber pair and data would move back and forth across that line. Using a pair of fibers for each connection works well…until there aren’t any more fibers left to use. This is where DWDM comes in.

Dense Wave Division Multiplexing is a way of “packaging” information so more data can move across a single strand of fiber. So, instead of dedicating fibers for each individual connection, multiple connections are packaged together by using different colors (or wavelengths) of light on a single fiber. The more colors, the more data a strand of fiber can carry. Some of our systems allow a single fiber strand to carry up to 8 colors, and some of our systems allow up to 40 colors. To go back to our tin can phone example, it’s like connecting 8 or 40 cans to each side of a single string.

DWDM

Aren’t wowed yet? DWDM allows 8 or 40 services to be placed on one fiber, but the fiber can be used even more efficiently. Each color of light can potentially carry 10 Gigabits per second (10G) of data, but most services using the fiber are slower than that. TDS has started to deploy a technology called G.709, sometimes called digital wrapper technology, which lets us put multiple “slower” services in one 10G wave. DWDM and G.709 allow a fiber connection to carry up to 400 Gigabits per second!

The real payoff of DWDM is that it lets use our existing fiber network to provide the bandwidth and services you’d like to have. That means we can expand our offerings of high-speed Internet, TDS TV, and managedIP to more customers. So, next time you turn on your TDS TV or computer, remember that DWDM is working “behind the scenes” to help us deliver great products.

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