Fiber Optic Communication Systems

Course Length:



This three-day course investigates the basic aspects of digital and analog fiber-optic communication systems. Topics include sources and receivers, optical fibers and their propagation characteristics, and optical fiber systems. The principles of operation and properties of optoelectronic components, as well as signal guiding characteristics of glass fibers are discussed. System design issues include both analog and digital point-to-point optical links and fiber-optic networks.

What you will learn:

  • What are the basic elements in analog and digital fiber optic communication systems including fiber-optic components and basic coding schemes?
  • How fiber properties such as loss, dispersion and non-linearity impact system performance.
  • How systems are compensated for loss, dispersion and non-linearity.
  • How a fiber-optic amplifier works and it’s impact on system performance.
  • How to maximize fiber bandwidth through wavelength division multiplexing.
  • How is the fiber-optic link budget calculated?
  • What are typical characteristics of real fiber-optic systems including CATV, gigabit Ethernet, POF data links, RF-antenna remoting systems, long-haul telecommunication links.
  • How to perform cost analysis and system design? From this course you will obtain the knowledge needed to perform basic fiber-optic communication systems engineering calculations, identify system tradeoffs, and apply this knowledge to modern fiber optic systems. This will enable you to evaluate real systems, communicate effectively with colleagues, and understand the most recent literature in the field of fiber-optic communications.

Course Outline:


      1. Fiber Optic Communication Systems. Introduction to analog and digital fiber optic systems including terrestrial, undersea, CATV, gigabit Ethernet, RF antenna remoting, and plastic optical fiber data links.
      2. Optics and Lightwave Fundamentals. Ray theory, numerical aperture, diffraction, electromagnetic waves, polarization, dispersion, Fresnel reflection, optical waveguides, birefringence, phase velocity, group velocity.
      3. Optical Fibers. Step-index fibers, graded-index fibers, attenuation, optical modes, dispersion, non-linearity, fiber types, bending loss.
      4. Optical Cables and Connectors. Types, construction, fusion splicing, connector types, insertion loss, return loss, connector care.
      5. Optical Transmitters. Introduction to semiconductor physics, FP, VCSEL, DFB lasers, direct modulation, linearity, RIN noise, dynamic range, temperature dependence, bias control, drive circuitry, threshold current, slope efficiency, chirp.
      6. Optical Modulators. Mach-Zehnder interferometer, Electro-optic modulator, electro-absorption modulator, linearity, bias control, insertion loss, polarization.
      7. Optical Receivers. Quantum properties of light, PN, PIN, APD, design, thermal noise, shot noise, sensitivity characteristics, BER, front end electronics, bandwidth limitations, linearity, quantum efficiency.
      8. Optical Amplifiers. EDFA, Raman, semiconductor, gain, noise, dynamics, power amplifier, pre-amplifier, line amplifier.
      9. Passive Fiber Optic Components. Couplers, isolators, circulators, WDM filters, Add-Drop multiplexers, attenuators.
      10. Component Specification Sheets. Interpreting optical component spec. sheets – what makes the best design component for a given application.



    1. Design of Fiber Optic Links. Systems design issues that are addressed include: loss-limited and dispersion limited systems, power budget, rise-time budget and sources of power penalty.
    2. Network Properties. Introduction to fiber optic network properties, specifying and characterizing optical analog and digital networks.
    3. Optical Impairments. Introduction to optical impairments for digital and analog links. Dispersion, loss, non-linearity, optical amplifier noise, laser clipping to SBS (also distortions), back reflection, return loss, CSO CTB, noise.
    4. Compensation Techniques. As data rates of fiber optical systems go beyond a few Gbits/sec, dispersion management is essential for the design of long-haul systems. The following dispersion management schemes are discussed: pre-compensation, post-compensation, dispersion compensating fiber, optical filters and fiber Bragg gratings.
    5. WDM Systems. The properties, components and issues involved with using a WDM system are discussed. Examples of modern WDM systems are provided.
    6. Digital Fiber Optic Link Examples: Worked examples are provided for modern systems and the methodology for designing a fiber communication system is explained. Terrestrial systems, undersea systems, Gigabit ethernet, and plastic optical fiber links.
    7. Analog Fiber Optic Link Examples: Worked examples are provided for modern systems and the methodology for designing a fiber communication system is explained. Cable television, RF antenna remoting, RF phased array systems.
    8. Test and Measurement. Power, wavelength, spectral analysis, BERT jitter, OTDR, PMD, dispersion, SBS, Noise-Power-Ratio (NPR), intensity noise.


REGISTRATION:  There is no obligation or payment required to enter the Registration for an actively scheduled course.   We understand that you may need approvals but please register as early as possible or contact us so we know of your interest in this course offering.

SCHEDULING:  If this course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses and you are interested in attending this or another course as an open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or Please indicate the course name, number of students who wish to participate. and a preferred time frame. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a 3-5 month lead-time.   To express your interest in an open enrollment course not on our current schedule, please email us at

For on-site pricing, you can use the request an on-site quote form, call us at (410)956-8805, or email us at




  • Dr. Raymond M. Sova

    is a section supervisor of the Photonic Devices and Systems section and a member of the Principal Professional Staff of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He has a Bachelors degree from Pennsylvania State University in Electrical Engineering, a Masters degree in Applied Physics and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. With nearly 17 years of experience, he has numerous patents and papers related to the development of high-speed photonic and fiber optic devices and systems that are applied to communications, remote sensing and RF-photonics. His experience in fiber optic communications systems include the design, development and testing of fiber communication systems and components that include: Gigabit ethernet, highly-parallel optical data link using VCSEL arrays, high data rate (10 Gb/sec to 200 Gb/sec) fiber-optic transmitters and receivers and free-space optical data links. He is an assistant research professor at Johns Hopkins University and has developed three graduate courses in Photonics and Fiber-Optic Communication Systems that he teaches in the Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering Part-Time Program.

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