Deployment of optical fibre in Québec
Surfing the Internet, sharing MP3s, sending text messages, watching videos, getting directions from a GPS are all things that we could not live without and now seem like they have always existed. Think again!
Cell phones, walkmen, video game consoles and even computers would have never become normal everyday objects, had the first fibre optic network not been installed in 1979. At the time, it connected Montreal and Quebec City and replaced all earlier technologies (copper cables, radio waves, etc.), which made it possible to transmit 32,000 conversations at the same time.
Finer than the finest hair, optical fibre has the ability to instantaneously carry sounds or images, transformed into digital data, over thousands of kilometres of distance. Today, more than 100,000 conversations pass through one filament.
In Saint Laurent, Nortel manufactured the fibre itself, which was made out of glass or plastic, and all equipment that made it possible to convert electronic signals into optical signals and vice versa. Bell was then in charge of installing the urban and long-distance fibre optic network, which now covers almost all of Québec. This company also created a research centre in Varennes that was able to connect fibres to each other and discovered different installation methods.
But the use of optical fibre was not limited to television, telephone and computer data. Combined with the laser, it allowed doctors to eliminate kidney stones, explore inside the body and operate on the eyes. It equips the navigation systems of rockets and satellites, and, a little closer to us, traffic lights and lighted signs. Thanks to optical fibre, we can light up tinsel on Christmas trees.