Deploying Optical Time Delays with RFoF

Posted by Kevin Miller on Thu, Dec 10, 2020 @ 10:12 AM

Radio Frequency over Fiber (RFoF) is a critical component in industries such as aerospace, radar, broadcasting, satellite and GPS communications, along with weight-sensitive environments such as the space or undersea industries. With RF over fiber, radio communication is consistent and reliable. 

Certain use cases require the addition of delays to the fiber line to achieve synchronized timing of signals from multiple points to a final location. 

Why Add Delays to RFoF?  

RFOptic + M2As RFoF deployments and architectures grow in complexity, the need to ensure synchronized data packets becomes more important.  A deployed RFoF environment may include multiple RFoF modules, each with fiber connections, likely of different distances, destined to the same endpoint application.  While the time difference may be measured in microseconds, those differences can have a significant impact on how the data is assembled and processed at the endpoint.  The addition of delays helps coordinate the data flows. Network designers must account for these differences and build in delays. 

Satellite, Broadcasting, Radar & GPS Applications

Industries that use satellites, perform broadcasting, or leverage radar and other RFoF technologies have seen significant speed increases along with the addition of satellites, dishes, and other devices that improve the quality and detail of the signal.  Environments where multiple satellite dishes are receiving input to transmit to a single command station or broadcast point, but are positioned at variable distances from the broadcast point, are common.  The addition of delays helps to equalize the signal timing.

An example is a radar datacenter at a facility that receives signals from multiple dishes. Those signals must arrive at the same time so that software can interpret the data into a usable display.  

M2 Optics - Optical Time Delay Experts

M2 Optics, with RFoF hardware partners like Summit Communications and RFOptic, deliver complete RFoF systems with fully-customized optical time delay solutions to meet any specific application needs.  Whether standard delay lines are required, or dispersion-compensated delays for specialized scenarios, M2 delivers a variety of rack-mount and portable platforms to match the project.  So what are the two most common applications that M2 can help with?

Signal Timing in the Field

As noted earlier in this article, signal timing is critical in a system with multiple fiber links/paths, including these RFoF applications.  In a network that has several remote satellite dishes or radar antennas with multiple fibers connecting back to the operations center (that are likely not all the same distance), M2’s precise optical time delays can be utilized to equalize those paths for signal timing purposes. 

Simulating Delays in the Test Lab 

In a laboratory environment, delay lines from M2 Optics are useful for multiple testing applications. Whether fiber links must be accurately simulated when designing a new RFoF system and certifying the system before deployment, or integrating delay lines into a proposed system for research and testing, M2 Optics offers a complete portfolio of optical time delay platforms proven to add value.

Whether in production or the fiber lab, M2 Optics provides solutions to optimize your RFoF deployment. 

Learn more about M2 Optics RFoF solutions.