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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Systems and Methods for Interconnection Discovery in Optical Communication Systems", for Approval

May 29, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventor Bhatnagar, Vipul (Kensington, MD), filed on November 7, 2012, was made available online on May 15, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Ciena Corporation.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Referring specifically to FIG. 1, an optical communication system (OCS) 10 is conventionally partitioned into multiple distinct nodes 12, each node 12 geographically separated from other nodes 12. Each node 12 consists of one or more modules 14, with each module 14 performing one or more specific operations related to inbound and/or outbound signals. Each module 14 includes one or more ports (not illustrated) and supports one or more signal interfaces (i.e., inputs and/or outputs). Correct routing of a signal through the equipment requires correct interconnections between the various modules 14 comprising the OCS 10.

"OCS product manuals, engineering drawings, and detailed procedures are commonly used to define a set of correct interconnections (e.g., port 1 of module X 14 is connected to port 3 of module Y 14, etc.). If an interconnection error is made during installation, conventionally, the error would be detected either through visual audit (using the installation instructions as a reference), or through an equipment debug procedure, triggered by an observation that the OCS 10 is not working properly. This is not efficient.

"The drawbacks of conventional methods for validating interconnections are that they rely on personnel-based processes (and, therefore, are susceptible to error), and require an advanced understanding of the OCS equipment (and, therefore, rely on a pool of highly trained workers). As OCS equipment becomes more complex and supports a greater number of signal interfaces, the probability of making an interconnection error increases, as does the time and skill required to locate and correct an error.

"An automated solution to this problem has existed for many years--an out-of-band optical telemetry channel (OTC). The Optical Supervisory Channel (OSC) is an examplary implementation. A secondary communication channel (with the OCS signal being the primary communication channel) at an unused wavelength is wavelength-division-multiplexed onto a module's output interface, and wavelength-division-demultiplexed from a module's input interface. When an interconnection is made between arbitrary output and input ports on the modules 14 comprising an OCS 10, the module 14 with the output port signals its unique port identification to the destination port over the secondary communication channel. The module 14 with the input port receives this information and sends it to central processor (not illustrated) administering the node 12. The node's central processor aggregates all of the interconnection information from all of the modules 14 within the OCS 10 (e.g., port A on module X 14 is connected to port B on module Y 14, etc.). The node's central processor compares the auto-detected interconnections against an internally stored reference and notifies the installer of any error. Alternatively, the installer can compare the reported auto-detected interconnections against installation instructions to see if there are any errors.

"Cost is a significant obstacle to the widespread usage of optical-based secondary communication channels, consisting of materials (e.g., lasers, photo-detectors, filters, power monitors, data framers, and supporting circuitry), as well as circuit board area consumption and primary signal degradation as it traverses the 'overhead' associated with a secondary communication channel. For these reasons, secondary communication channels have typically been used only with 'high-value' connections within an OCS 10, such as on the interconnection interfaces between nodes 12, and not on the internal connections within a node 12.

"The mechanical keying of connector interfaces has also been employed for many years to avoid interconnection errors. While the mechanical keying of connector interfaces can restrict which port pairs may be interconnected, this approach is not appropriate when port pairings are circumstantially defined, rather than invariantly defined.

"Clearly, improved systems and methods for avoiding interconnection errors and enabling interconnection discovery in OCSs 10 are needed."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "In various exemplary embodiments, the present invention provides improved systems and methods for interconnection discovery in OCSs. The automatic discovery of interconnections between nodes, modules, and ports within an OCS allows the equipment to be self-aware of available equipment resources and constraints. Equipment with such knowledge can automatically adapt to accommodate new usage requests without human intervention. The present invention exploits the capability of silica optical fibers and the like to simultaneously support optical and acoustical wave propagation.

"A secondary communication channel is established across two interconnected ports of an OCS. The interconnection is via an optical fiber patch cord, for example. The interconnected ports support a unidirectional 'primary' signal, flowing from an origin port to a destination port. The physical interfaces at the origin and destination ports use a 'physical-contact' (PC)-type of fiber optic connector. FC-PC, SC-PC, and LC-PC are industry-standard examples of PC fiber optic connectors. When two ports are interconnected by a fiber optic patch cord using PC-type connectors, an acoustic wave generated at the origin port couples to the interconnecting patch cord, and from the patch cord to the destination port.

"The secondary communication channel using acoustic signaling comprises:

"At the origin port:

"1. An analog electrical signal generator;

"2. An encoder, which embeds digital information within an analog signal generated by the electrical signal generator. Digital information includes details of the origin port, such as the host module's identification, the port number, and any other pertinent information that would be useful for the destination port to know;

"3. A transducer, which generates an acoustic signal with frequency, phase, and amplitude characteristics materially proportional to the incoming electrical signal, and whose frequency is suited for propagation in a silica fiber optic waveguide; and

"4. A coupling mechanism for coupling the acoustic signal to the fiber that connects to the origin port's interface without interrupting the primary signal flow.

"At the destination port:

"5. A decoupling mechanism, for sampling a sufficient portion of the inbound acoustic signal without interrupting the primary signal flow;

"6. A transducer, which generates an electrical signal with frequency, phase, and amplitude characteristics materially proportional to the incoming acoustic signal at the decoupling mechanism's output; and

"7. A decoder, which decodes the digital information embedded on the analog electrical signal at the transducer's output.

"Advantages of the present invention include the following:

"Electric-acoustic transducers (e.g., piezoelectric transducers) are small and inexpensive as compared to an optical-based secondary communication channel;

"Acoustic signals can be non-invasively coupled to/decoupled from the fiber (e.g., with a coaxial coupling mechanism or the like), minimizing the number of in-line components the primary signal must traverse; and

"The method is applicable to all wavelengths that might be used on fiber optic interconnections, whereas an optical-based secondary communication channel relies upon using an idle portion of the optical spectrum.

"In one exemplary embodiment, the present invention provides a system for automatic interconnection discovery in an optical communication system, including: a fiber optic waveguide connecting an origin port to a destination port, wherein the fiber optic waveguide carries a primary optical signal; at an origin port, equipment operable for embedding a secondary acoustic signal on the fiber optic waveguide; and at a destination port, equipment operable for receiving the secondary acoustic signal embedded on the fiber optic waveguide; wherein the secondary acoustic signal is encoded with information related to the origin port. The fiber optic waveguide comprises a fiber optic patch cord. The origin port equipment includes an analog electrical signal generator operable for generating an analog electrical signal that ultimately forms the secondary acoustic signal. The origin port equipment also includes an encoder operable for digitally encoding the information related to the origin port within the analog electrical signal that ultimately forms the secondary acoustic signal. The origin port equipment further includes a transducer operable for generating the secondary acoustic signal from the encoded analog electrical signal. The origin port equipment still further includes a coupling mechanism operable for embedding the secondary acoustic signal on the fiber optic waveguide. The destination port equipment includes a decoupling mechanism operable for sampling at least a portion of the embedded secondary acoustic signal from the fiber optic waveguide without interrupting the primary signal flow. The destination port equipment also includes a transducer operable for generating an electrical signal representative of the sampled secondary acoustic signal. The destination port equipment further includes a decoder operable for decoding the information related to the origin port from the electrical signal.

"In another exemplary embodiment, the present invention provides a method for automatic interconnection discovery in an optical communication system, including: providing a fiber optic waveguide connecting an origin port to a destination port, wherein the fiber optic waveguide carries a primary optical signal; at an origin port, providing equipment operable for embedding a secondary acoustic signal on the fiber optic waveguide; and at a destination port, providing equipment operable for receiving the secondary acoustic signal embedded on the fiber optic waveguide; wherein the secondary acoustic signal is encoded with information related to the origin port. The fiber optic waveguide comprises a fiber optic patch cord. The origin port equipment includes an analog electrical signal generator operable for generating an analog electrical signal that ultimately forms the secondary acoustic signal. The origin port equipment also includes an encoder operable for digitally encoding the information related to the origin port within the analog electrical signal that ultimately forms the secondary acoustic signal. The origin port equipment further includes a transducer operable for generating the secondary acoustic signal from the encoded analog electrical signal. The origin port equipment still further includes a coupling mechanism operable for embedding the secondary acoustic signal on the fiber optic waveguide. The destination port equipment includes a decoupling mechanism operable for sampling at least a portion of the embedded secondary acoustic signal from the fiber optic waveguide without interrupting the primary signal flow. The destination port equipment also includes a transducer operable for generating an electrical signal representative of the sampled secondary acoustic signal. The destination port equipment further includes a decoder operable for decoding the information related to the origin port from the electrical signal.

"In a further exemplary embodiment, the present invention provides a method for automatic interconnection discovery in an optical communication system, including: providing a fiber optic waveguide connecting a first port to a second port, wherein the fiber optic waveguide carries a primary optical signal; and transmitting a secondary acoustic signal over the fiber optic waveguide, wherein the secondary acoustic signal is encoded with information related to one or more of the first port and the second port and/or the interconnection there between. The secondary acoustic signal is transmitted one of continuously, synchronously intermittently, and asynchronously intermittently, and does not interfere with the primary optical signal.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"The present invention is illustrated and described herein with reference to the various drawings, in which like reference numbers are used to denote like system components/method steps, as appropriate, and in which:

"FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating a typical OCS, including a plurality of interconnected nodes, modules, and ports, in accordance with the systems and methods of the present invention;

"FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram illustrating one exemplary embodiment of an automated interconnection discovery system utilizing acoustical signaling over optical fiber, in accordance with the systems and methods of the present invention;

"FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating one exemplary embodiment of a 2.times.2 directional coupler used to couple acoustic waves to an optical fiber, in accordance with the systems and methods of the present invention; and

"FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram illustrating one exemplary embodiment of a piezoelectric sandwich transducer used to couple acoustic waves to an optical fiber, in accordance with the systems and methods of the present invention."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Bhatnagar, Vipul. Systems and Methods for Interconnection Discovery in Optical Communication Systems. Filed November 7, 2012 and posted May 15, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=3312&p=67&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140508.PD.&OS=PD/20140508&RS=PD/20140508

Keywords for this news article include: Ciena Corporation.

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Source: Politics & Government Week


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