The University of Southampton

OPTO6010 Advanced Fibre Telecommunication

Module Overview

Communications is arguably the most widespread application of fibre optics, and naturally forms an essential part of an MSc Programme specialising on fibre technologies. This module will cover topics ranging from the more general (aimed at students with a background that is different to engineering) to more specialised issues relating to modern communication systems. The module starts with an introduction to the history of optical communications and the evolution of optical communication systems. It covers aspects of optical networking, and looks in detail in the modulation and multiplexing techniques used in modern systems. Key optical components for communications are presented and their main characteristics are analysed, allowing the students to appreciate what features can make a difference in the performance. An introduction to wave propagation in optical fibres is presented next, with emphasis on the effects of fibre characteristics on fast data signals. The final part of the main body of the module covers topics that are relevant either to modern communication systems or that emerge from recent research in the field. It includes optical nonlinearities and their implications both in transmission and signal processing, as well as electronic signal processing and its ever-increasing role in optical communications. Furthermore, the module includes provision for four lectures on passive optical networks to be given by an invited lecturer. These lectures cover specialised networking topics of interest to next generation low-cost telecommunication system technologies. This module builds directly on the fundamental fibre technology modules (OPTO6008 and OPTO6009) taught in Semester 1, and together the three modules provides in-depth knowledge of the core concepts of advanced telecommunication systems and the state-of-the-art of telecommunication systems technologies. This module series could also be of interest to students studying towards an MSc in Wireless Communications.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to provide an in-depth appreciation of the main technologies behind state-of-the-art optical fibre communication systems and the technological challenges that are relevant today. The module will cover basic communication principles and their application in optical systems, fibre optic technologies as well as advanced concepts, such as the mitigation of nonlinear effects and signal processing.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Understand the evolution of optical communication systems to their current form
  • Understand the various modulation formats and multiplexing techniques that are relevant in today’s communication systems
  • Have an appreciation of the various types of networks and their distinctive characteristics.
  • Appreciate the technologies behind the various building components of a transmission system.
  • Appreciate the differences and the applications of various telecommunication fibre types.
  • Appreciate the diversity and limitations of fibre optic components.
  • Understand systems aspects of transmission link designs and the impact of adverse effects, such as loss, dispersion and nonlinearity.
  • Appreciate some topics related to current research themes, such as optical and electronic signal processing in communications.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Appreciate the variety of different communication systems and networks.
  • Make quantitative calculation of the performance of communications systems, given a knowledge of their properties and components.
  • Understand the relative role and importance of the various technologies used in communication systems today.
  • Understand the technological challenges associated with transmitting signals at a high speed and/or long distances.
  • Search the literature for specific topics in communications and develop the understanding required to discuss issues associated with these.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use a variety of information sources (lectures, web, journals) to understand & solve problems.
  • Use feedback from tutorial classes to prepare for answering examination questions.
  • Perform a subject-specific literature review and present your findings to others.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Appreciate the state-of-the-art in current deployed systems, as well as the future trends.
  • Understand the basics of telecommunications components and the fibre characteristics of importance in communication systems.


Historical perspective and current status Introduction to Network types Network architectures Basic network types (Star vs Ring networks) Burst and packet switching Advanced network architectures (Elastic, flexi-grid networks)/ Next generation networking Long-haul transmission systems Metropolitan-area networks Local-area networks Modulation formats On-off keying, Differential phase-shift keying Spectrally efficient formats Multiplexing in optical fibre systems Optical time-division multiplexing Wavelength-division multiplexing Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing/Nyquist systems Code-division multiple access Receivers Direct detection vs. differential detection Coherent receivers Key telecommunication components Optical Sources Modulators Filters; Multiplexers/demultiplexers Fibre components Photodetectors Control of propagation effects in fibres Wave propagation in optical fibres Loss Dispersion Polarisation Nonlinearity Introduction to simulation tools Systems considerations in communication systems Capacity of a transmission system Capacity limits in fibre systems Performance evaluation Noise in transmission Control of optical nonlinearities Exploiting fibre nonlinearities The role of electronic digital signal processing Fibre-based optical access networks (to be delivered by invited lecturer) Overview of the access network and prevalent technologies today Review of market demands; FTTx addressing market forces Passive Optical Network basics Introduction to next generation optical access networks

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: The course consists of 2 lectures per week plus a bi-weekly workshop/surgery. On-line lecture notes and literature guidance will be provided for parts of the course. Learning activities include: Attending lectures, working on assignments and problem sheets, and exam preparation

Independent Study120
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s)  () 30%
Final Exam  (2.5 hours) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2.5 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules


To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):

OPTO6009Optical Fibre Technology II
OPTO6008Optical Fibre Technology I
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