Optical add/drop multiplexers (OADMs) were first introduced seven years ago as a technology to add more capacity to fiber. The ability to light multiple wavelengths running different speeds and protocols on the same facility was seen as an excellent alternative to the tremendous expense of constructing new fiber builds. During the first years of deployments, OADM manufacturers sought to increase the number of wavelengths that could be squeezed onto a fiber and increase the distance they could be driven. As a result, today’s wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technology provides the potential for tremendous capacity. However, very few deployed networks have ever reached their full potential, not because of a lack of demand, but rather because of the issues associated with operating these systems. Early WDM deployments have proven to be too difficult and expensive to operate, thereby limiting the ability to achieve the full capacity potential. This paper examines the limitations of traditional OADMs, and looks at the recent advances in WDM equipment that have eliminated these problems.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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