Thirteen photonics research projects in high-speed fiber broadband network technology have been launched to develop superfast Internet — in excess of 1 Gb/s — for residential use in Europe.
The projects were selected by the European Commission, Austria, Germany, Poland, Israel and the UK in 2010. The entities are paying a total of €22.3 million ($32.3 USD) to support the projects, which are scheduled to run for two to three years. The commission is contributing one-third of the funding for the projects, and national funding agencies are covering the remainder.
The collaborative approach is expected to enable participating countries to more rapidly develop high-speed optical broadband networks.
Giving every European access to fast and ultrafast broadband by 2020 and boosting investment in European information and communications technology research are key objectives of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda for Europe program. The projects constitute the Piano+ initiative, which is an ERANET+ project and part of the European Commission’s 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7).
“I’m very happy that research on technology relevant to delivering superfast Internet speeds to the homes and businesses of 500 million Europeans is taking off. Such technology could have a crucial role to play in meeting Europe’s broadband needs far into the future,” said Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda.
The focus is on how components — e.g., transceivers, amplifiers and routers — and information technology systems can deliver speeds of 1 Gb/s and above to the subscriber at home while reducing the operational cost for ultrafast broadband. The objective is to develop technology to give customers faster service at no extra cost.
Examples of the research plans are described below:
The ADDONAS project aims to deliver better quality for mobile video and real-time applications, such as cloud computing, by optimizing the switching technology for superfast broadband circuits. This would allow data traffic to be sent only where it is needed, removing bottlenecks on a router’s performance. The technology would aim to reduce the total energy bill for operators and users by more than 50 percent.
To enable ultrahigh-speed transmission of data, the ALOHA project will work to upgrade the transmission capacity of broadband semiconductors; i.e., optic lasers. The goal is to improve performance to 10-Gb/s transmission rates and beyond and to accelerate the transition to faster laser components for mass-market uptake.
The TUCAN project is focusing on developing low-cost tunable transceiver technology that meets access network cost targets while maintaining high performance and reducing power requirements. Current networks are designed for fixed-wavelength lasers at cost levels of less than €10 ($14.50 USD) per laser, but these are not designed to deal with high data rates — 1 to 10 Gb/s — per customer as would be required in superfast access networks.
The SEPIANet project is developing optical components, modules and subsystems for future access products based on embedded electro-optical printed-circuit board technology. This would significantly reduce power consumption and increase energy efficiency and bandwidth — currently not possible in existing copper-based access network systems.