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Electronic Dispersion Compensation

Acronym: EDC

Definition: a method for mitigating the effects of chromatic dispersion in fiber-optic communication links with electronic components in the receiver

German: elektronische Dispersionskompensation

Category: lightwave communications

How to cite the article; suggest additional literature


Systems for optical fiber communications can be affected by the effect of chromatic dispersion of the fibers used. Dispersion in a fiber-optic link broadens and distorts the features of the bit symbols, making it more difficult to decode the signal. Dispersion compensation is normally be done in the optical domain, i.e., before photodetection. However, there are also methods of electronic dispersion compensation, utilizing electronics for that purpose.

Two quite different approaches of electronic dispersion compensation have to be distinguished, which are applied to different types of data receivers:

Even a non-perfect compensation system can have various benefits, obtained at limited cost. The bit rate or transmission distance can be increased, e.g., by 20% or even 50%. Alternatively, electronic dispersion compensation may allow the use of a cheaper type of transmitter (e.g. a directly modulated laser instead of a system with an external modulator) and thus lead to significant cost savings.

A technical challenge of great importance for applications is automatic adaptation of the parameters of the electronic dispersion compensator to the link properties, because the ideal parameter settings depend on the properties of the fiber link and the transmitter, and manual optimization is not cost-effective. Particularly in systems with multimode fibers, the optimum parameters may also drift with time.


[1]K. Iwashita and N. Takachio, “Chromatic dispersion compensation in coherent optical communications”, J. Lightwave Technol. 8 (3), 367 (1990)
[2]J. H. Winters, “Equalization in coherent lightwave systems using a fractionally spaced equalizer”, J. Lightwave Technol. 8 (10), 1487 (1990)
[3]J. C. Cartledge et al., “Performance of smart lightwave receivers with linear equalization”, J. Lightwave Technol. 10 (8), 1105 (1992)
[4]K. Yonenaga and N. Takachio, “A fiber chromatic dispersion compensation technique with an optical SSB transmission in optical homodyne detection systems”, IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 5 (8), 949 (1993)
[5]Q. Yu and A. Shanbhag, “Electronic data processing for error and dispersion compensation”, J. Lightwave Technol. 24 (12), 4514 (2006)

(Suggest additional literature!)

See also: chromatic dispersion, dispersion compensation, optical fiber communications, optical heterodyne detection
and other articles in the category lightwave communications

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