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Free Space Optical Communications Prototyping and Performance Assessment in Desert Environment

Funding Agency: KACST Annual Funding Program

Status: Completed (May 2016)

The project aims to study the Saudi Arabia environment and its effect on free space optics (FSO) communications. FSO communications offer a huge bandwidth which makes this technology attractive for bandwidth hungry applications such as HDTV, online gaming, multimedia applications, etc. Although these services are already delivered using optical fiber links, FSO have some key features that makes it attractive: ease of install, free license, no digging work, high capacity, extremely resistance to interference, etc. In this collaborative project between King Saud University (KSU) and King Abdullah University of Technology and Science (KAUST), it has been demonstrated for the first time, the possible installation of FSO systems in Saudi Arabia. The experimental work was carried out in Riyadh city where the general weather is sunny and observes frequent light sandstorms. A data rate transmission of 1Tbps was achieved over 100m FSO link using super-channel technique. An empirical model was developed for signal attenuation in dust storm. Experimental results show that dust has higher effect on the signal than fog.