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What is the difference between CWDM and DWDM SFP?
Knowledge Base + 2024.01.10

CWDM (Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing) and DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) are two different technologies used in optical communication to transmit multiple signals over a single optical fiber. The key difference lies in the spacing and density of the wavelengths used. 

CWDM (Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing):

  1. Wavelength Spacing: CWDM uses wider wavelength spacing compared to DWDM. The typical wavelength spacing in CWDM is around 20 nm.

  2. Number of Channels: CWDM systems typically support fewer channels compared to DWDM. The standard CWDM grid usually includes channels in the 1270 nm to 1610 nm range, with channel spacing of 20 nm. This allows for up to 18 channels.

  3. Applications: CWDM is often used in scenarios where the demand for bandwidth is moderate, and the distance requirements are not extremely long. It is commonly deployed in metropolitan and access networks.

  4. Cost: CWDM systems are generally considered more cost-effective than DWDM systems because of the wider wavelength spacing and fewer components.

DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing):

  1. Wavelength Spacing: DWDM uses much tighter wavelength spacing compared to CWDM. The typical wavelength spacing in DWDM is 0.8 nm or even narrower.

  2. Number of Channels: DWDM systems support a much larger number of channels than CWDM. It can accommodate numerous channels within the C-band (around 1525 nm to 1565 nm).

  3. Applications: DWDM is employed in high-capacity, long-distance communication scenarios, such as long-haul and inter-city networks. It is suitable for applications where maximizing the use of available bandwidth is crucial.

  4. Cost: DWDM systems tend to be more complex and expensive than CWDM systems due to the narrower wavelength spacing and the need for more precise and sophisticated equipment.


When it comes to SFP (Small Form-Factor Pluggable) transceivers, the choice between CWDM SFP and DWDM SFP depends on the specific requirements of the network in terms of bandwidth, distance, and cost. CWDM SFPs are designed for CWDM systems, while DWDM SFPs are designed for DWDM systems, each following the corresponding wavelength grid and characteristics of the technology used in the network.