Polarization mode dispersion (PMD), especially in "old" fibers, is considered harmful for installation and upgrading of trunk lines. An optical PMD equalizer should have several or many differential group delay (DGD) sections with polarization transformers in between which can endlessly transform any input polarization into a principal state of the following DGD section. The sections must practically have fixed DGD's unless there is only one section. The small-signal baseband transfer function for PMD, higher order PMD, and the necessary number of sections as well as their control by the output signals of an electrical filter bank in the receiver are also discussed in this context. Several PMD equalizers have been realized and successfully tested in transmission systems with bit rates of 10, 20, and 40 Gb/s. The systems operated stably with well-opened eye diagrams for DGD's ranging between 0 and 1.7 bit durations. Best performance is obtained from a distributed PMD equalizer with one piece of polarization-maintaining fiber twisted by 64 stepper motors. The principle can also be realized in LiNbO3.
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