Feeds

Free space optics gets shiny new snake-oil paint job

Money-sharks with frikkin' lasers for this week's 'tech' media rating system

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

A technology more than 15 years old is getting a brand-new publicity brush-up because it's been discovered by the high-frequency trading community.

Free space optics is older than The Register, even: it's been around so long that in the mid-1990s, it was even exciting in Australia, where a company called Davnet was founded to sell telecommunications links in CBDs using FSO systems. The company later exploded in a shower of sparks in the “tech wreck”.

In the meantime, bandwidth became cheap and telecommunications markets became liberalised, and while FSO didn't fade away entirely, it mostly fell out of the public eye.

Until the high-frequency traders met the FSO vendors, and created a publicity marriage made in heaven completely irresistible to both the business press and the tech press. It's almost as good as Flappy Birds for testing your tech media – so why not?

A. Does the author know that fibre-optics uses lasers?

Here's an except from a real article: “an ultra-high-speed laser network ... will be just a few nanoseconds faster than the current microwave and fibre-optic links”. Clearly, the workings of fibre-optics are a mystery to the writer.

B. Does the author understand that light and radio are both electro-magnetic waves?

A writer who thinks light in air moves faster than radio waves, is out of their depth.

C. Can the author plug the speed of light into a spreadsheet?

The speed of light in an optical fibre is only about 2/3 the speed of light through the air. At the physical layer, the direct link isn't a few nanoseconds quicker than fibre over, say, 10km – it's about 17 microseconds quicker.

D. Is it about the propagation delay?

If the author hasn't noticed that a direct link eliminates at least a couple of router hops, they don't understand networks.

So yeah: this old technology probably does warrant a little bit of attention. Hopefully, by people with a spoonful of clue. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.