The amount of information traveling on the Internet continues to grow as more devices are connected and new applications are developed. This growth is illustrated in the Cisco Visual Networking Index, which shows Internet Protocol (IP) traffic across the globe increasing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 25 percent per year.
Common applications such as web browsing and high-definition video make up approximately two-thirds of this traffic. The greater availability of high-speed bandwidth results in even more. Because the entire system is interconnected, growth in any portion of the network will result in similar growth in other portions. Optical fiber is the only transmission medium capable of supporting this explosive growth.
In the virtual world of IP packets, binary-code 1s and 0s don’t jump from transceiver to transceiver; instead, they are transmitted over a physical network. This physical infrastructure consists of a series of fiber-optic segments, each designed to support different network applications. Understanding the evolution of transmission strategies deployed on the fiber segments can help us understand and predict how the fiber network may grow and evolve over time.