More recently, FTTH (Fibre-to-the-Home) has brought the technology to the home Internet user. In FTTH, fibre optic cables are installed from the telephone exchange to deliver communications such as broadband, digital TV and telephone to private homes.
Fibre optic cables offer much faster speeds and much higher bandwidth than copper wires were ever able to cope with. The multimedia and telecommunications sectors rely more and more on fibre optics for instantaneous data transmission.
Fibre optic components are used to form the fibre optic networking system. Because the fibre system is much more complicated than the former copper wired system, components needed for these optical networks are also extremely sophisticated.
Typical fibre optic components include transceivers, optical amplifiers, couplers/splitters, WDM (wavelength-division multiplexing) multiplexers and demultiplexers, filters, isolators, circulators, attenuators, optical switches, wavelength converters and various function modules. The entire range of components can be classified in one of two ways: passive or active type. Passive fibre optic components work without external power, while active fibre optic components need external power to operate.
Reliability is essential
To ensure the quality and reliability of the components used in optical fibre assemblies, manufacturers and suppliers have a powerful tool at their disposal. IECQ, the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components, provides certification at the international level for a wide variety of electronic components, including those found in fibre optic systems.
The System offers immediate international recognition. One test and one certificate issued in one country means acceptance on a global basis, even in countries that are not IECQ members.
Reducing the use of hazardous substances
Nowadays, electronic component manufacturers who have had their products tested and certified by IECQ also request IECQ HSPM (Hazardous Substance Process Management) certification to demonstrate that their products are produced under controlled conditions to provide assurance that they meet hazardous-substance-free specific local, national and international requirements.
This is of particular importance for fibre optics as networks extend across borders. This means that they will have to comply with different national regulations that may restrict or prohibit the use of such substances in components.
The IECQ System provides all players in the ever expanding fibre optic market with the certainty of using electronic components that meet the strictest requirements and are of the highest quality.
For more on fibre optics, see also Shifting signals delivery from copper to optical fibre in this issue.