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The Comparison Of WDM And TDM

The Principles of WDM and TDM System


Wave-division multiplexing (WDM) is a technology
which multiplexes a number of optical carrier signals
onto

single

optical

fiber

by

using

different

wavelengths (i.e., colors) of laser light, as is shown in


Figure

1.This

technique

enables

bidirectional

communications over one strand of fiber, as well as


multiplication of capacity. As an analog process, WDM
is based on a well-known concept called frequency
division multiplexing (FDM). With this technology, the
bandwidth of a channel is divided into multiple
channels, and each channel occupies a part of the
large frequency spectrum. In WDMnetworks, each
channel is referred to as a wavelength. This name is
used because each channel operates at a different
frequency and at a different optical wavelength. The
wavelengths on the fiber are separated by unused
spectrum.

This

practice

makes

the

wavelengths

separate from each other and helps prevent their

interfering with each other. This idea is called channel


spacing, or simply spacing.

Figure
1:
WDM

operating principle
Time-division multiplexing (TDM) is a technology of
transmitting and receiving independent signals over a
common signal path by means of synchronized
switches at each end of the transmission line so that
each signal appears on the line only a fraction of time
in an alternating pattern, as is shown in Figure 2. TDM
is a type of digital (or rarely analog) multiplexing in
which two or more bit streams or signals are
transferred simultaneously as sub-channels in one
communication channel, but are physically taking
turns on the channel. The time domain is divided into
several recurrent time slots of fixed length, one for
each sub-channel. A sample byte or data block of subchannel 1 is transmitted during time slot 1, sub-

channel 2 during time slot 2, etc. One TDM frame


consists of one time slot per sub-channel plus a
synchronization

channel

and

sometimes

error

correction channel before the synchronization. After


the

last

sub-channel,

error

correction,

and

synchronization, the cycle starts all over again with a


new frame, starting with the second sample, byte or
data block from sub-channel 1, etc.

Figure 2: TDM operating principle


The Features of WDM and TDM
WDM, possessing high transmission capacity, can save

optic fiber resources. As to the single-wavelength fiber


system needs to use a pair of optic fibers to receive
and dispatch a signal, while the WDM system, no
matter how many signals waited to be transmitted,
only needs a pair of optic fibers. Being transparent to
various service signals, WDM is able to transmit
different kinds of signals, then compounding and
decomposing them. As an optimal capacity-expanding
method, WDM can introduce various services or
expand capacity only by means of changing switch
and adding an optical wavelength instead of using lots
of fibers or high-speed networking devices. Whats
more, using the optical add-drop multiplexer (OADM)
and the optical cross connection (OXC), WDM can
constitute the all-optic network of high flexibility, high
reliability and high survivability.
TDM is designed to accomplish the high-capacity and
high-speed
nonlinear

transmission.
soliton

technologies,

TDM

Being

transmission
can

able
and

eliminate

to

adopt

other

useful

the

effect

of

chromatic dispersion in the high-speed transmission.


At the same time, TDM is able to eliminate the rate

effect of electronic devices to accomplish the highspeed transmission on a single wavelength. As an


effectively optical multiplexing way, TDM can make full
use of spectral resources and greatly improve the
utilization of spectral bandwidth. Unlike WDM, TDM is
free of the limitations resulted from the nonlinear
effect

of

fibers,

thus

effectively

utilizing

optical

wavelength and operating in various network of


different

distances

and

capacities.

Though

still

immature, TDM is a more long-term technology than


WDM.
The Differences between WDM and TDM
TDM and WDM are two methods of multiplexing
multiple signals into a single carrier. Multiplexing is the
process of combining multiple signals into one, in such
a manner that each individual signal can be retrieved
at

the

destination.

occupying

the

Since

channel,

multiple

they needto

signals

are

share

the

resource in some manner.


The primary difference between WDM and TDM is how
they divide the channel. WDM divides the channel into
two or more wavelength ranges that do not overlap,

while TDM divides and allocates certain time periods


to each channel in an alternating manner. Due to this
fact, we can say that for TDM, each signal uses all of
the bandwidth and some of the time, while for WDM,
each signal uses a small portion of the bandwidth and
all of the time.
TDM provides greater flexibility and efficiency, by
dynamically allocating more time periods to the
signals that need more of the bandwidth, while
reducing the time periods to those signals that do not
need it. WDM lacks this type of flexibility, as it cannot
dynamically

change

the

width

of

the

allocated

wavelength.
WDM proves much better latency compared to TDM.
Latency is the time it takes for the datato reach its
destination. As TDM allocates time periods, only one
channel can transmit at a given time, and some data
would often be delayed, though its often only in
milliseconds. Since channels in WDM can transmit at
any time, their latencies would be much lower
compared to TDM. WDM is often used in applications
where latency is of utmost priority, such as those that

require real-time information.


The Relationship between WDM and TDM
WDM

and

TDM

are

all

ultrafast

transmission

technologies. TDM has dispelled the restriction of the


speed of the electronic device and is free of the
limitation of the nonlinear effect of fibers, realizing
high-speed transmission on the single wavelength, but
it is still at research and development stage for the
present. As to WDM, it is a very mature technology
and extensively used in communication networks, but
its multiplexing wavelength and transmission diatance
are restricted by the nonlinear effect of fibers. In the
long term, WDM and TDM can be used in tandem and
co-exist in the transmission network. As is shown in
Figure 3, we can build a bigger optical transmission
network by using TDM high-speed channels to connect
the subnets composed of WDM. In the subnets, WDM
can significantly improve flexibility and reliability of
network. At the same time, TDM is effective to
accomplish
transmission.

the

high-speed

and

high-capacity

Figure 3: The optical transmission network of WDM


and TDM
Conclusion
WDM,

as

mature

and

high-capacity

optical

transmission technology, has already been extensively


adopted in the network now. It is equipped with the
advantages of transparency, reconfigurability and
excellent network survivability. The future WDM optical
network will develop towards the flexible networking
direction based on the optical wavelength routing and
exchanging,

which

possesses

the

ability

of fast

network recovery and reconfiguration and will play a


main role in the future optical transmission network.
As a very effective multiplexing technology, TDM can

make full use of spectral resources and dispel some


restrictions of WDM system caused by nonlinear
effect. In recent years TDM has made great progress in
the research field, but not ripe enough. In a nutshell,
WDM and TDM have their own advantages and
disadvantages as the optical multiplexing technology.
With the relevant study lucubrating constantly, WDM
and TDM can be combined together to be extensively
applied to the ultra fast transmission network.
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