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After their talk, attendees, representing practically component and system manufacturer plus many users, ran for the pay phones (remember pay phones?this was before cell phones) in the hotel lobby to call their offices with the news.To realize the potential of optical fiber, it was necessary to move transmission to singlemode fiber.The transfer from multimode to singlemode fiber was not simple.But the data people who were just getting started connecting PCs on LANs, stayed with multimode.They could use cheaper LED sources with the multimode fiber for their slower systems (10Mb/s) over shorter links (The layoffs are a sign of the upheaval that is sweeping through the sector as a result of automation, merger activity and the relentless drive for efficiency.Residents in a tiny village took matters into their own hands and came together to install their own superfast broadband after being unable to use the Internet.Pensioners, farmers, teachers and pub landlords in Michaelston y Fedw, clubbed together after being unable to download films, stream music or connect to online banking.
'I had just paid for high speed broadband and realised it would not work.' Organisers then began to look into how to obtain grants to fund the project and asked villagers to help with volunteering.The village, which has a population of just 300, now has one of the fastest internet speeds available at a thousand times quicker than before and the fastest in Wales.Homeowners in the area between Cardiff and Newport put in thousands of hours of volunteering digging more than seven miles (12km) of trenches to install their own cables.All the necessary technologies came together in the early 1980s.Lasers were developed and mass produced at 1310nm (built on assembly and test equipment supplied to AT&T by my company Fotec.) Singlemode fiber was successfully engineered and manufactured by AT&T, Corning and others.At first, there were attempts to make 850nm singlemode fiber.The problem was the core needed to be ~4-5 microns diameter, a problem since the technology to make optical fiber with precise geometry did not exist then, nor was there technology to make connectors precisely enough.From that point, the industry never looked back - telecom was all based on singlemode.Speeds increased, wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) increased fiber utilization.A year after the project began most of the 300 villagers are now hooked up to a 1,000mps broadband connection.Richard Raybould, 59, is still waiting for his house to be connected on the edge of the village. It is amazing what skills people in the community have. 'I have met at least 30 people who I had never spoken to before.