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Agilent Technologies to Unveil Industry-First Optical Modulation Analyzer for 40/100G Physical Layer Test at OFC/NFOEC 2009


Analyzer Fills the Gap of Amplitude and Phase-Modulated Optical Signal Analysis, Speeds Development of Next-generation High-speed Networks

SANTA CLARA, Calif, Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today introduced the industry’s first time-domain based optical modulation analyzer offering in-depth analysis of amplitude and phase-modulated optical signals. This optical test instrument was developed in close cooperation with Agilent Laboratories, the central research arm of Agilent Technologies. It is based on wide-bandwidth, polarization-diverse coherent optical receiver technology, the Agilent 89600 vector signal analysis software (VSA), and Agilent’s high-speed real-time data acquisition unit called the Infiniium Series 90000 oscilloscope.

Agilent will unveil the N4391A at OFC/NFOEC 2009, San Diego Convention Center, Calif., Booth 1719, March 23-26.

It is the first time-domain-analysis-based coherent detection system and offers highest flexibility and in-depth analysis of amplitude and phase modulated optical signals in a turn-key solution, allowing scientists and engineers to rapidly test their ideas.

Since the broad deployment of the Internet, service providers have seen a continuous increase in demand for transmission capability. This is driving today’s transmission rates of 10 Gb/s toward 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s in the next few years.

The challenge put to the optical industry is how to fit a transmission rate of 100 Gb/s into the legacy 50 GHz ITU-T channel grid. The only way to overcome this challenge is to leverage complex modulation techniques from the wireless and RF microwave world, which solved this problem at lower data rates two decades ago. The solution is to take advantage of the significant dense packaging of information afforded with advanced optical modulation schemes, reducing the necessary transceiver bandwidth.

“This is exactly the kind of test instrument that fills the gap for the optical industry, as engineers can now gain deep insight into the behavior of transmitters and links operating with advanced optical modulation schemes,” said Niall Robinson, vice president of product marketing at Mintera Corp.

The advanced optical modulation schemes carry information in amplitude, phase and polarization. To develop new optical transmitters and receivers it is necessary to analyze amplitude and phase behavior of these signals in two orthogonal polarization states. Currently available test instruments are only capable of analyzing the amplitude of the optical signal, leaving a gap in the test instrument market. The N4391A optical modulation analyzer closes this gap by offering new analysis tools such as constellation plane display of the demodulated signal and error vector magnitude analysis displaying the error compared to an ideal signal.

“Our optical modulation analyzer provides a highly flexible turn-key solution as a reference system for developing transmission systems based on advanced modulation schemes,” said Juergen Beck, general manager of Agilent’s Digital Photonic Test business. “This instrument will be the workhorse for scientists, development engineers, and quality engineers of transmission system and component suppliers, thus supporting the development of next-generation high-speed optical networks.”

Features of the Agilent N4391A optical modulation analyzer include:

* optical coherent receiver supporting mpte than 100G transmission rates;
* full support of DPSK/DQPSK, including Polarization Multiplexing;
* optical receiver bandwidth more than 37 GHz (74 GHz optical);
* choice of 34 digital modulation formats; and
* choice of 20 customizable data-analysis tools.

U.S. Pricing and Availability

The Agilent N4391A optical modulation analyzer may be ordered starting in April 2009; shipments will begin September 2009. Pricing starts at $195,000.

Additional information about Agilent’s N4391A optical modulation analyzer is available at High-resolution images are available at

A video about the N4391A is available at
About Agilent Technologies

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is the world’s premier measurement company and a technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company’s 19,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenues of $5.8 billion in fiscal 2008. Information about Agilent is available on the Web at

The backgrounder, Optical Component Test Backgrounder, is available at


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