Photo: Ulrik Jantzen

New technology can boost fibre-optic bandwidth

Monday 10 Apr 17
Danish start-up, Bifrost Communications, won the Danish Tech Challenge with a fibre system that can create faster internet connections. Now, the company is looking for investors.

Jesper Bevensee Jensen, co-founder and CTO of the start-up company Bifrost Communications, was recently presented with the Danish Industry Foundation Entrepreneur Award of DKK 500,000 by HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.

In its motivation for the award, the jury stressed, among other things, that the team behind Bifrost had developed a technology with ‘global potential’ which, by its very nature, was ideally suited for scaling and mass production.

The company is ready to find investors who wish to inject money into Bifrost’s ground-breaking optical transceiver (contraction of the English words ‘transmitter’ and ‘receiver’, ed.). The technology will be able to improve fibre network range and increase the number of users.

From being a demonstration model the size of a bread bin, the transceiver is to be developed into something akin to a USB stick which the team can test on the telecom operators’ existing fibre network. The aim is to secure billions of kroner in savings for the telecom sector, create economic growth and jobs, and faster internet connections.

In recent years, the former assistant professor at DTU Fotonik published scientific articles and beat world records with lightning-fast wireless networks. However, he became increasingly interested in solving the industry’s need for cheap broadband solutions that could provide users with good, stable, and fast internet access.

Jesper Bevensee Jensen therefore decided to simplify things, do away with costly complicated steps, and use new technologies. To that end, he registered two patents through DTU.

In 2015, Jesper Bevensee Jensen was contacted by Bo Pedersen, formerly with DTU Fotonik and the man behind several telecommunications and nanotechnology start-ups. After just ten minutes, Jesper decided to become an entrepreneur instead of a DTU researcher.

The two men rented the office next door to Jesper’s and started the company with help of ‘proof of concept’ funding from DTU. Gradually, the project saw several experienced entrepreneurs join the team.

"The technology combines laser physics, fibre, and electronic signal processing—three disciplines not closely related, nor obvious to combine. "
Jesper Bevensee Jensen, CTO of Bifrost Communications.

Photo: Ulrik Jantzen

Range quadrupled
Over the past two years, the team has developed the transceiver, which can send and receive sound and images. Based on so-called ‘coherent detection’ widely used in wireless communication systems, the transceiver makes it possible to utilize more optical channels in fibre-to-the-home systems.

With the new technology, the transmission distance can be increased fourfold and eight times as many users can use the same fibre connection. This means that the transmission range of each exchange is increased from 10 to 40 km and the number of potential users from 32 to 256 per fibre, resulting in a significant reduction in both operational costs and power consumption in telecom providers’ data networks.

“The added bonus here is that the telecom operators can do away with 90 per cent of the exchanges and save power. In just a few years, the internet’s share of total energy consumption has increased from two to seven per cent. So there’s a lot of money to be saved,” says Jesper Bevensee Jensen.

Cheap standard components
The idea is to use cheap standard components much like the type of laser used in an optical mouse. The components are simply used in a new way. Behind the invention lie analyses of how to simplify the systems, how to remove the more expensive components, and how the signal looks when it comes from a low-cost component. The work requires close collaboration between DTU Electrical Engineering, DTU Fotonik, and DTU Mechanical Engineering.

“The technology combines laser physics, fibre, and electronic signal processing—three disciplines not closely related, nor obvious to combine. It might also explain why we're the only ones who thought of the solution,” explains Jesper Bevensee Jensen.

When Netflix lags
The need to boost network capacity is increasing. Not least due to the fact that more and more customers are streaming films and series from Netflix, and the rise of new digital technologies such as virtual reality. Increased internet bandwidth will therefore be a driver for growth, says Jesper Bevensee Jensen:

“As things stand, establishing more exchanges in the peripheral areas is too expensive. Instead, we can reach these areas using our technology. In this way, our solution is future-proofed: when you run out of bandwidth, you can just add channels instead of laying more cables.” 

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