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Verizon & NEC Pioneer Traffic Sensing on Existing Fiber

Dan Jones
10/8/2019

Verizon and NEC completed a proof-of-concept trial using existing fiber optic cables as distributed optical sensors to collect information on city traffic patterns, road capacity and conditions. The Richardson, Texas, project demonstrates the possibility of fiber operators getting additional revenue from existing infrastructure investments.

The carrier is using optical sensor technology developed by NEC with software underpinned by artificial intelligence. The fiber sensing system was deployed alonside existing Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) communication channels on the same fiber with minimal impact to data communication capacity. Previously, companies have had to lay purpose-built fiber very shallowly in the ground, with fiber grating at pre-determined intervals to gather and synthesize this type of information.

"The beauty of this new technology is that we do not have to put in sensors into the fiber as has been the case historically," a spokesperson for Verizon tells Light Reading on Monday. "This new software measures information using light pulses only and translating information from the return of the light pulses."

The system is only in the trial stage so far though. "We are not announcing a date for commercialization today," the spokesperson said.

Why this matters
This could prove to be a way for existing fiber providers to deliver smart city traffic-related data without tearing up roads or sidewalks. Verizon says it will be well-placed to deploy such a system nationwide in the future, with hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber already in place and plans to deploy 1,400 miles of additional fiber per month.

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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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