Virtual symposium on Fibre and Free-Space Optical Communications Technologies for Future Access Networks

12-14 October 2020

Optical communication technologies are central to the distribution of data around the world and is the enabler for the 5G revolution. They are the technologies which enable the internet, and everything from movies on demand to virtual healthcare. However rural communities have commonly been left behind in the deployment of state-of-the-art network access due to the incredible cost of deployment (>£800k per km) that often only service a few homes, where in many cases the distance between connected and unconnected communities is only a few kilometres.  This divide is very prevalent in developing nations, where wireless technologies are critical for not only cost but infrastructure security. Recent advances in free-space optical technologies have shown that these distances can be readily bridged with cost effective point-to-point optical links. The meeting brought together specialists from the fields of fibre optical communication and the free-space-optical (FSO) communication communities to discuss the challenges facing wide scale deployment of greater 1Gbps internet connections into every home.

Originally planned as a conventional face to face symposium, the COVID-19 pandemic again resulted in a transition to a virtual format. The revised format allowed us to further trial and develop new aspects to our meetings, again including the use of pre-recorded talks so that our Zoom time was wholly devoted to discussion, facilitated poster sessions to engage in detailed technical exchange and panel sessions to explore the opportunities and challenges of a research career. The success of these alternative approaches will undoubtedly feed through to the relaunch of our continuing face-to-face events.


Professor Martin Lavery (University of Glasgow)

Professor Miles Padgett (University of Glasgow, Member of the Optoelectronics Committee)

Andrew Lord (British Telecom)