How to Navigate Outgrowing Your CWDM Network

Making the Most of Your Fiber

Fiber’s like hot rods and ragtops…perfect until you’re trying to cram three car seats (aka traffic) into the backseat. The American classic Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was on to somethingah, the ability to easily fit your entire family into a two-seater. Similarly, when it comes to fiber – how do you add capacity while working within existing fiber constraints?

The underlying goal of every first build is to make the most out of leased fiber. Even if the fiber you’re working with isn’t leased, the cost between two connections is always expensive. When every dollar counts, it’s critical to design a solution that utilizes the most you can. Commonly, engineers opt to go with a CWDM solution when first building out their network as a result of lower cost filters and transceivers that cover the distance they’re working with.

Adding Capacity While Maintaining Network Flexibility

As the business grows (car seats, anyone?), there becomes an urgent need to add capacity while still maintaining network flexibility. That brings us to the million-dollar question: how do you add capacity while managing costs and staying nimble?

The answer? A DWDM solution that enhances your current CWDM network! DWDM is a great path forward for many reasons, but the main one is that DWDM wavelengths are in the middle of the range used by CWDM. A CWDM channel 1530 can carry 13 DWDM channels (ITU 50-62) and CWDM channel 1550 can pass 17 channels (ITU 25-41). That fits 30 DWDM channels into just two CWDMs…Wayne Szalinski style (the inventor/father from the sleeper hit who’s electromagnetic ray gun did indeed shrink the kids).

Comparing Costs and Choosing a Path Forward

Now, you may be thinking, “how is this a cost effective solution when DWDM transceivers come at a higher price tag than CWDM?”. Although this is true, what levels the playing field is tunable DWDM transceivers. With 18 CWDM channels in use, you could end up with a spare transceiver for each channel at each demarcation. When utilizing DWDM transport, a single tunable transceiver can be used to cover any of the C-Band channels you have in use, allowing you to spare with substantially less stock.

The cherry on top of an already ideal solution? The price gap between CWDM and DWDM is narrowing making this solution a great option for expanding your network capacity without the overhead of additional leased lines or additional maintenance costs.

While Integra’s engineering team can’t magically shrink your entire family, we can help you make the most of existing fiber and future-proof your network. Talk to an optics expert to learn how!