An excerpt from, OSA Centennial Snapshots Boom, Bubble, Bust: The Fiber Optic Mania:
With web traffic soaring, Ciena in June 1996 found its first customer, Sprint, owner of the third-largest long-haul phone network in the United States. Sprint paid nearly US$200 million to upgrade previously installed fibers to carry 16 wavelengths. To Kimberlin, that first commercial DWDM system was “the real dawn of the internet.” It was also a milestone showing that technology barely beyond the laboratory stage could be put to work helping real world networks keep up with the rapid growth of web traffic.
DWDM developers still faced daunting challenges. They needed to level gain across the erbium band to amplify all wavelengths evenly. They needed to compensate for dispersion to prevent pulse spreading. And they needed to engineer DWDM optics to reduce losses and slice the spectrum into more and thinner channels. But engineers soon solved those problems.
PDF copy posted courtesy of The Optical Society and Optics & Photonics News (OPN). Original version is at OPN website at www.osa-opn.org/link/snapshots-fo-mania. Copyright © 2016, The Optical Society; all rights reserved.