Standard Article

Optical Networks

  1. Rod C. Alferness,
  2. Herwig Kogelnik,
  3. Thomas H. Wood

Published Online: 15 JUL 2004

DOI: 10.1002/3527600434.eap639

Encyclopedia of Applied Physics

Encyclopedia of Applied Physics

How to Cite

Alferness, R. C., Kogelnik, H. and Wood, T. H. 2004. Optical Networks. Encyclopedia of Applied Physics. .

Author Information

  1. Bell Labs, Holmdel, New Jersey, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2004


With the explosion of capacity demands driven by the Internet, optical networking systems are experiencing tremendous growth and are providing increasingly high transmission capacities. As importantly, with the advent of the optical amplifier and wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM), optics is playing a larger role in networking and is extending further to the edge of the network. Once limited to long-haul point-to-point systems, the industry is now commercializing multipoint metro WDM ring systems that include software-controlled optical wavelength add/drop multiplexers and will soon be capable of offering large optical cross connects. These optical network elements, together with network-management software, will enable rapid provisioning of wavelength services, as well as rapid network restoration. In addition, as the cost of optics is driven down and the demand for bandwidth to businesses and residential customers continues to grow, optical systems are extending out from the network core and metro to access applications. The confluence of a proliferation of broadband service applications and rapidly maturing optical technology are literally driving optical systems into all segments. Increasingly, optics is literally everywhere.


  • optical fiber communication;
  • photonic networks;
  • high-capacity information transmission integrated optics;
  • optical access technology;
  • broadband access