BT 'trick of light' averts cable chaos

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

FEARS OF chaos on the nation's streets as engineers lay cables for what has become known as 'information super-highways' could be allayed with a trick of the light revealed yesterday by scientists at British Telecom, writes Susan Watts.

Researchers at BT's Martlesham laboratories near Ipswich, Suffolk, have found a way to send more than 40 times the number of telephone conversations down existing optical fibres.

This means the company can use the 3 million kilometres of optical links already in place to transport the huge quantities of sound, image and data signals the information age will create.

BT had feared it would have to upgrade its telephone network to cope with this extra traffic - at considerable cost to itself and disruption for the public.

But its researchers have developed an optical amplifier that increases by a thousand times the strength of light signals travelling down an optical fibre so these can carry far more information, more accurately, over greater distances.