Splitters are devices used in various technologies and industries to divide or distribute signals from one source to multiple destinations. In the context of fiber-optic communications, especially Passive Optical Networks (PONs), splitters play a vital role.
Here’s an overview of splitters in the realm of fiber-optic communication:
- In fiber-optic networks, a splitter takes an incoming optical signal and divides it into multiple output signals. This allows a single optical fiber to serve multiple homes or businesses, sharing the bandwidth among them.
- Fused Biconical Taper (FBT) Splitter: This is an older technology where two fibers are placed closely and heated to fuse them together. The signal gets split between the two fibers as they are pulled apart.
- Planar Lightwave Circuit (PLC) Splitter: More common in modern networks, PLC splitters use optical chips to split the light. They offer a more consistent split ratio across different wavelengths and are scalable to serve more outputs.
- Splitters can have various split ratios depending on the number of outputs. Common ratios include 1:4, 1:8, 1:16, 1:32, etc. This means, for instance, a 1:8 splitter takes one incoming signal and divides it into eight output signals.
Placement in the Network:
- In PONs, splitters are typically located between the Optical Line Terminal (OLT) at the service provider’s central office and the Optical Network Terminals (ONTs) or Units (ONUs) at customer premises. They can be located in a central location, or be cascaded in series at different points in the network.
- Splitters are passive, meaning they don’t require external power to operate. This reduces maintenance costs and increases reliability in the network.
- Every time an optical signal is split, there is some attenuation or loss. The more the signal is split, the greater the loss. This loss needs to be taken into account when designing a network to ensure signal quality remains within acceptable levels.
- Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH): In this setup, splitters allow a single fiber from the service provider to serve multiple homes.
- Fiber-to-the-Building (FTTB) or Curb (FTTC): Splitters can be used to distribute signals to multiple units within a building or to multiple buildings in close proximity.
- Scalability: Splitters make it easier to expand the network without laying down more fibers from the central office to the end-user.
- Cost-Efficiency: Passive splitters reduce the overall cost of deploying fiber-optic networks, as they don’t require power and have lower maintenance costs.
- Consistency: Especially with PLC splitters, the split ratio remains consistent across different wavelengths.
In summary, splitters are fundamental components in passive optical networks, enabling service providers to efficiently and cost-effectively deliver fiber-optic services to multiple end-users using a shared infrastructure.