What is RF over Fiber (RFoF)?

Posted by Gary Miller on Thu, Nov 5, 2020 @ 07:11 AM

Driving Value with Radio Frequency Over Fiber (RFoF)

Wireless technology and fiber optic communications have revolutionized everyday life.  In her article, Radio Meets Fiber Optics: RF Over Fiber, Marie Christiano states that “using radio frequency (RF) signals, wireless has given us military radar, avionics, cellular and satellite communications; our world is safer and more interesting thanks to all the benefits provided by wireless breakthroughs. We no longer need to be ‘homebased’ for an expected call or to catch a podcast; our banking, fitness routines, transportation, communications and home security can all be scheduled and controlled from our mobiles.”

Fiber optic networks have delivered the capacity, speed and reliability to transmit extraordinary amounts of data at high speed over long distances, connecting the world as never before.  The connection of fiber optic networks with radio frequency technologies is often referred to as Radio Frequency over Fiber (RFoF), Radio Frequency over Glass (RFoG), or Radio over fiber (ROF).

How RFoF Works

According to our partners at Summit Communications Corp, “RF over Fiber (RFoF) solutions convert analog RF signals into optical signals which are then transmitted over optical fibers and converted back to RF signals at various bands. RFoF Solutions are designed to replace coax cables that degrade RF signals over long distances, typically longer than 150 ft.”

As noted by everythingRF, the analog RFoF provides high bandwidth, low-loss communication links, delivering the RF signal at the optimal wavelength.  Beyond creating a more lightweight solution than coaxial cable, the combination of RF and fiber optic cable eliminates the distance restrictions associated with traditional copper cable transmission.  RFoF is not as susceptible to environmental factors such as radio frequency interference, noise, electromagnetic interference and other external inputs, making the technology more reliable.

The Importance of RFoF

Because of its ability to transmit over longer distances, to support high throughput, and to deploy easily compared to other networking technologies, RFoF has applications across industries such as aerospace, radar, broadcasting, data center, satellite and GPS communications, along with weight-sensitive environments and related industries such as space or undersea.

In her article, Ms. Chrstiano highlights some benefits of RFoF. For example, replacing coaxial cable with fiber optic in aircraft for avionics communications removes additional weight, impacting the cost of operations for airlines.  According to her article, “Using ROF in buildings and stadiums relieves congestion and uses available spectrum effectively.”

With the explosion in GPS technology and the drive toward self-driving cars, the development of a technology with the speed and reliability of RFoF was critical to ensure the consistent communication necessary for these developing innovations. 

Working with M2 Optics and RFoF

As experts in delivering optical delay line solutions, M2 Optics works closely with partners on the cutting edge of RFoF equipment for supporting these applications.  When combined with our delay line solutions, M2 and our strategic partners RFOptic and Summit Communications can support complete RFoF system requirements for both live network and pre-deployment testing scenarios. 

Learn more about M2 Optics RFoF Solutions.

Topics: RFoF