Low-Cost Fiber Optic Network Reflectometer

Award Information
Department of Energy
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
01 c
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Ax Instruments LLC
527 Bridge St, Suite 301, Danville, VA, 24541-1405
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Phil Couch
(540) 558-8596
Business Contact:
Kent Murphy
(540) 558-8596
Research Institution:

To support large scale Fiber Optic (FO) network deployment, there is an identified industry need for a low cost, optical network reflectometer with high resolution and much lower cost to be used in the maintenance of FO networks. This technology supports new FO networks that are being installed in neighborhoods, office buildings, fibertothehome, local area networks, small office/home office (SOHO), mobile self contained FO platforms including aircraft, ships, unmanned vehicles, and the energy industry including oil wells, processing plants, offshore wind and solar, and power transmission systems. Many of these FO platforms extend at most a few hundred meters ( & lt;1km) and an optical interrogation system is desirable to locate optical faults to within less than 1 centimeter to make necessary repairs to maintain overall optical network integrity which cannot be detected with current techniques. This new class of reflectometers does not currently exist in the Fiber Optic Test Equipment (FOTE) market. In this proposed effort, CP Instruments proposes to fill the gap by exploiting a new reflectometer technology to provide an inexpensive instrument with & lt;1 cm resolution at kilometer range costing below $2,000. The introduction of an instrument at this cost point, with high network interrogation performance, will allow increased fiber optic deployment, installation, maintenance and support an affordable instrumentation alternative. This new reflectometer technology will be able to be deployed as a handheld unit to every FO deployment site and utilized during FO network deployment and subsequent routine and emergency maintenance. Currently, most instruments available fall in one of two categories, both of which are expensive. 1) Longrange instruments which can span long distances with relatively low resolution for telecommunications and larger data network applications. These typically use optical time domain reflectometery (OTDR) and provide tens of kilometers of span with resolution down to 0.1 to 1 meters and, 2) Very highresolution laboratory instruments which utilize optical frequency domain reflectometry (OFDR) which provide submillimeter resolution. Both techniques are of high instrument cost; several tens of thousands of dollars per unit cost and are a barrier to largescale FO network deployment. Despite the countless miles of fiber optic cables laid out till today, the demand for higher bandwidth and high capacity cables is still increasing. With the increased production of fiber optic (FO) cables and resultant FO networks, the need and demand for testing has increased. This market is expected to be approximately $618.5M by 2013. This market includes OTDRs, OPMs, OLSs, OLTS, OSAs RFTS and other fiber optic test equipment. Typically, such instruments can be classified into handheld and full size. However, the market has witnessed the emergence of a new category of equipment in the OTDR market segment i.e. micro OTDR. Such OTDRs are smaller than handheld OTDRs while featuring enhanced capabilities. They are extensively used in fiber deployment and field testing due to their compact size this emerging market is where the CP Instruments reflectometer is positioned to address. Our product development plan starts during the Phase I and continues through the Phase II and subsequent Phase III and specifically includes offering the common platform reflectometer core module to our customers and either providing them with a complete solution or allowing them to customize our platform for their needs. This strategy will allow us to build one common unit on a very large scale with large volumes, thus driving per unit cost to a minimum driving the per unit pricing well below $1,000/ea

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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