Today's fiber-optic networks are alive with a variety of signals including analog voice, digital data, and high-speed Internet communications. In the past, these signals have been carried through optical fibers in two regions of the light spectrum. A third key region has been unavailable because of certain ions incorporated into the fiber during the manufacturing procedure. A breakthrough process invented by Lucent Technologies, however, removes this barrier, opening up the wavelength transmission spectrum in its new AllWave Single Mode Optical Fiber. Communications service providers now have 50% more usable wavelength spectrum, three regions rather than two. Not all data must be sent at the same speeds, and the faster the requirement, the more costly the transmission because of support-equipment demands. The advantage of transmission in the additional wavelength region is that providers now have more ways to segment their signals and more flexibility to choose the most cost-effective way to send each. "Data that might be split out and sent at very high rates include sophisticated bank transactions, stock-market trades, or critical medical imaging," says Norcross, Ga.-based Lynda Kane, marketing manager, fiber-optic solutions. "This data can be split off and carried on [the separate] wavelength, sent quickly, without having to drag along other data at high transmission cost. That's where you get your bang for the buck." Optimized specifically for shorter-haul metropolitan and regional connections with high pick-up/drop-off density, the fiber was first available in 1998. However, it wasn't until early this year that the auxiliary and peripheral equipment necessary to take advantage of the additional transmission region became commercially available. As a result, in 1999 networks have been laid in major business and residential centers around the world including New York, Chicago, Paris, London, and Amsterdam. John Teresko, John Sheridan, Tim Stevens, Doug Bartholomew, Patricia Panchak, Tonya Vinas, Samuel Greengard, Kristin Ohlson, and Barbara Schmitz contributed to this article.