Course Title: Optical Fibre Systems and Networks

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Optical Fibre Systems and Networks

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


125H Electrical & Computer Engineering


Sem 2 2006,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 2 2013,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016

Course Coordinator: Professor Michael Austin

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2459

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Availability: Please Email for an appointment.

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

You are expected to have successfully completed EEET2115 Communication Engineering 3 or other equivalent studies (this is not an enforced pre-requisite). It is also recommended that you have successfully completed Wireless and Guided Waves or other equivalent studies.

You will be expected to have previous knowledge of the properties of optical fibres (multimode and single-mode optical fibres, fibre attenuation, fibre dispersion, preferred wavelengths of operation) and the basic components of optical fibre communication systems (laser diodes, photodetectors, optical receivers).


Course Description

Optical fibre communication systems have revolutionised our global telecommunications network. With their very high data rates and capacity, optical fibre systems link continents, countries, cities and end users. They have enabled the internet and changed our society.

This course builds on work presented in earlier years of the program in order to enable you to develop a fuller understanding and appreciation of the factors which affect the design, operation and performance of both digital and analogue optical fibre communication systems.

Optical fibre systems include long distance backbone or trunk networks, metropolitan and access networks, passive optical networks and radio on fibre or fibre wireless systems. Fibre networks are also used to distribute signals for broadband wireless access networks.

The design of an optical fibre system involves many design factors and trade-offs. The characteristics and limitations of system components (laser diodes, optical modulators, optical fibre, optical amplifiers and optical receivers) and the factors affecting the performance of different optical fibre communication systems will be studied.

Particular topics to be studied will include:

  1. Laser diodes
  2. Optical receivers
  3. Optical modulation schemes
  4. Optical and electrical noise sources
  5. Calculation of system Q factor and Bit Error Rate
  6. Passive optical networks
  7. Fibre dispersion and dispersion compensation
  8. Optical fibre amplifiers


Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

At undergraduate level this course develops the following Program Learning Outcomes of the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours):

1.3 In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline.

2.1 Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving.

2.2 Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.


On completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Explain the principles of operation of various optical fibre communication systems.
  2. Analyse the performance of various digital and analogue optical fibre systems.
  3. Calculate various key parameters of optical fibre systems. These include the system optical power budget and system risetime budget, receiver noise power, Q factor, bit error rate and maximum usable bit rate of a digital optical fibre system.
  4. Explain/compare the factors affecting the performance of different optical fibre communication systems.
  5. Communicate laboratory findings through written reports.


Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities included in this course are:

  • Your attendance at lectures where you engage with key concepts and their application with design examples and case studies;
  • problem sheets which are designed to develop your problem solving skills, give further practice in the application of theory and procedures, and to give feedback on your progress and understanding;
  • completion of three laboratory exercises which are designed to enhance your learning and help develop your communication skills;
  • assignment work which requires you to research new information and contributes to the development of your group and communication skills; and
  • private study, working through the course as presented in classes and learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems. 


Overview of Learning Resources

Course information, lecture notes and other learning materials such as problem sheets and laboratory notes will be made available through RMIT University’s on-line systems.

A list of relevant reference texts and other resources will be provided.


Overview of Assessment

☒This course has no hurdle requirements.

Your ability to demonstrate your understanding of key concepts and your proficiency in being able to solve technical problems will be assessed via a mid-semester test, problem sheets and a two-hour at the end of the semester. Learning will also be assessed via written reports on laboratory exercises and a written assignment. A problem sheet will be provided as an early assessment task with prompt feedback in Weeks 3-4.

All assessment tasks will also assess your ability to critically analyse results. Written feedback will be provided on all assessment tasks except for the Final exam.

Assessment tasks

Assessment Task 1: Mid-semester test

Weighting 10%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2 & 3

Assessment Task 2: Laboratory reports

Weighting 24%

This assessment task supports CLOs 2, 4 & 5

Assessment Task 3: Assignment

Weighting 10%

This assessment supports CLOs 1, 2, & 4

Assessment Task 4: Problem Sheets

Weighting 6%

This assessment supports CLOs 1, 2, 3 & 4

Assessment Task 5: Final exam

Weighting 50%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3 & 4