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1 February 2006 Comparative study of the performance of analog fiber optic links versus free-space optical links
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Optical fiber offers many advantages over coaxial cable for the transmission of radio frequency (rf) signals in antenna-remoting applications, as well as cellular networks and cable television (CATV) signal distribution networks. Optical fiber shows significantly less loss, can support signals demanding much higher bandwidth, is immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI), and enables considerable size and weight savings when compared to coaxial cable. Free-space optics (FSO) communications is a technology that uses modulated optical beams to transmit information line of sight through the atmosphere. FSO can be deployed faster and cheaper when compared with optical fiber. Recently, FSO has been investigated by the telecommunications industry and research centers to transport digital signals for civilian "last mile" applications and military applications. We demonstrate the successful transport of modulated rf analog signals over an FSO link and compare key performance measures against a fiber optic link configured in an identical manner. Results of measurements of optical power, transmission response, reflection response, group delay that defines phase distortion, carrier-to-noise ratio (CNR), and dynamic range that defines nonlinear distortion are presented. Results from this comparative study indicate that FSO for rf applications is a suitable replacement for fiber optic transmission links over short distances.
©(2006) Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
Hakki H. Refai, James J. Sluss Jr., Hazem Hejjo Refai, and Mohammed Atiquzzaman "Comparative study of the performance of analog fiber optic links versus free-space optical links," Optical Engineering 45(2), 025003 (1 February 2006).
Published: 1 February 2006

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