Comparison of low complexity coherent receivers for UDWDM-PONs (λ-to-the-User)
It is predicted that demand in future optical access networks will reach multigigabit/s per user. However, the limited performance of the direct detection receiver technology currently used in the optical network units at the customers' premises restricts data rates per user. Therefore, the concept of coherent-enabled access networks has attracted attention in recent years, as this technology offers high receiver sensitivity, inherent frequency selectivity, and linear field detection enabling the full compensation of linear channel impairments. However, the complexity of conventional (dual-polarization digital) coherent receivers has so far prevented their introduction into access networks. Thus, to exploit the benefits of coherent technology in access networks, low complexity coherent receivers, suitable for implementation in ONUs, are needed. In this paper, the recently proposed low complexity coherent (i.e., polarization-independent Alamouti-coding heterodyne) receiver is, for the first time, compared in terms of its minimum receiver sensitivity with five previously reported receiver designs, including a detailed discussion on their advantages and limitations. It is shown that, of all the configurations considered, the Alamouti-coding based receiver approach allows the lowest number of photons per bit (PPB) transmitted (with a lower bound of 15.5 PPB in an ideal implementation of the system), while requiring the lowest optical receiver hardware complexity (in terms of the optical component count). It also exhibits comparable complexity to the currently deployed direct-detection receivers, which typically require over 1000 PPB. Finally, a comparison of experimentally achieved receiver sensitivities and transmission distances using these receivers is presented. The highest spectral efficiency and longest transmission distance at the highest bit rate (10 Gb/s) was reported using the Alamouti-coding receiver, which is also the only one, to date, to have been demonstrated in a full system bidirectional transmission.