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PPC blog

Building Residential Fiber Networks Faster at a Lower Cost

Posted by Dave Daly

The broadband FTTH market is in its infancy in North America and very little attention has been paid to the last 150’ drop necessary to bring a low fiber count connection into customers’ homes. Currently a broadband operator’s fast ROI lies in business and multi-dwelling unit (MDU) applications. To date, the ROI model for single family units (SFU) doesn’t measure up.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Pushable Fiber, Costs/ROI

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How to Harden Closed Loop HFC Systems for the LTE Band

Posted by Rick Haube

LTE networks operating in the 700 MHz band are becoming widespread across North America and are growing globally as well. Broadband cable and some satellite systems occupy some of the same frequency bands.There have also been frequency auctions in the 600 MHz band - so the allocation of shared frequencies will soon span from 600 MHz – 800 MHz.  

Ideally, none of this should be an issue since the CATV coaxial plant is a closed loop transmission medium - if well-shielded coax is used and connections are tight. But often they are not.

It has been shown that  LTE operators do not deliver services well when coaxial networks "broadcast" signals in the LTE band and, conversely, coaxial networks don't deliver services well when they have LTE ingress, commonly caused by loose connectors and poor shielding performance of coax and passive devices.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home

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Minimizing install time with micro trenching

Posted by Martin Gossling

Digging up roads and pavement to install new networks of any sort is never popular. Local residents dislike the disruption and the noise while municipalities have to deal with increased congestion on busy roads, particularly if works overrun.

Installers, therefore, aim to get the job done as quickly as possible to minimize disruption and costs.

However, there's a growing need to install new broadband networks, particularly in congested urban areas, extending them all the way to individual buildings themselves.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home

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FTTP Drop Installations: Fusion Splicing Versus Pre-terminated Costs

Posted by Shaun Trezise

The relative costs involved in connecting subscribers to fiber networks can be deceptive. The critical element when evaluating fiber connections to make in the drops to the premises or even inside homes in an FTTX installation is not materials, but time.

Fiber splicing technicians have specialized training that makes them expensive when compared to someone simply plugging things in. 80% of costs for an FTTP deployment go to labor.

As it turns out, fusion splicing makes a lot of sense for trunk fibers and locations where there are anywhere from 48 to 192 fibers to splice. In the drop locations, where there may be only one or two splices at each location, the setup time for each location may negate any cost savings from fusion splicing.  

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Costs/ROI

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Choosing the Best Fiber Cable(s) for Fiber-to-the-CPE Installations

Posted by Rick Haube

When it comes to choosing the amount and type of fiber to use in your system, protecting the fiber that carries telecommunications services is of primary importance. Between access fiber to the home (FTTH), and premise fiber to the CPE, there can be uncertainty about when to use which types of fiber cable. Today's most common options include:

  • 900µ fiber
  • 900µ jacketed fiber
  • 250µ fiber within a strong polymer (2-4mm)
  • Fiber cable within microduct

Bringing fiber into a home requires that you carefully consider several factors to choose the correct cable. At all points in the FTTH installation, the fiber must be flexible, tough, and lightweight, and for residences, aesthetically pleasing. Most fiber cables can accommodate one or two of these features but not all four. In addition, you must factor cost into the equation as prices vary - however, the installation and operational cost far outweigh the capital. The bottom line is that each FTTH installation is somewhat unique – whether the site is a multiple dwelling unit or a single residence, there are many variables that will determine which types of fiber are most appropriate in the different parts of the installation. In most cases, one size will not fit all.

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Design and Install

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Direct bury microduct for fiber: the do's and the don'ts

Posted by Shaun Trezise

The disruption often caused when installing new fiber is never popular. Local residents dislike their roads and sidewalks being dug up while local governments have to deal with increased congestion, particularly if projects overrun their anticipated schedules.

There are big advantages to installing microduct underground since it can be laid relatively quickly and does not require specialist fiber crews.

The cost compared to installing larger sub ducts or direct bury (DB) fiber is lower both in terms of material and time. Direct bury products are generally of heavier construction with thicker sheaths and so are able to withstand higher impact and crush loads. Depending on their make-up, they can be used in excavated trenches, mole-plowed routes or inserted into slot cuts in the surface of roadways.

Here are some tips to make the direct bury microduct for fiber installation smoother, quicker, and more satisfactory for all involved.

Topics: Design and Install, Costs/ROI

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Optical connections in the drop network - how to save money and time

Posted by William Crawford


Fusion splicing is often used and is appropriate for trunk portions of a network; it offers low optical and reflection loss and splicing efficiency for large fiber bundles.

When it comes to the drop network, however, with only a couple of connectors per drop, you can achieve substantial cost savings by using mechanical connections or pre-terminated fiber cables. Using fusion splicing in the drop adds time and cost.

In this post, we will examine the impracticality of fusion splicing in the last few hundred feet to the premise vs. cost savings from mechanical optical connections, and pre-terminated fibers. 

Optical loss

The typical loss budgeted for a fusion splice is 0.1dB and 0.3dB for a mechanical connector. Considering that most subscriber drops will have two localized optical connections between their devices and the distribution network, using connections that install fast and with ease should be considered. It is highly unlikely that the optical loss budget in the network design will be affected by these last two connectors - because the loss in each drop is not aggregated in the distribution network, there will be negligible impact on the loss.

Topics: Design and Install, Costs/ROI

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Pushable fiber in the drop network - how to speed up your installation

Posted by Shaun Trezise


Pushable fiber can be installed quickly and cost-effectively as the fiber drop for the final few hundred feet of a network.

The beauty of pushable fiber is that less skilled labor and less expensive equipment are required.

Another option is pulling, which is typically used for longer distances. Unless the microduct already contains a pull-cord, it will first require the cord to be drawn into the duct, or a fish tape to be installed, both adding time to the install. Assuming a pull-cord exists, it will, of course, need to be removed for pushable applications.

Compared to blowing fiber, both of these approaches are more flexible in terms of the number of crew members and the logistics or access to the duct. Blowing fiber also requires expensive equipment, and takes time to set up and dismantle, limiting the number of installations possible in a day. In some cases, blowing equipment may not be permitted on-site for reasons of access, disruption and safety.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Pushable Fiber

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FTTx project management segments for successful deployments

Posted by Peter Carapella


There are numerous tasks involved in deploying fiber to the home (FTTH) technology and while some are obvious, others require more thought and consideration. In general, the tasks fall into three categories: preparation; installation and delivery; and measuring/verifying.

The design of an FTTx installation requires you to know the optical power required to reach the end user, to understand the conditions within the terminating premise, and to have details of the speeds and bandwidth required for each user.

1. Preparation

Depending on the factors cited above, you will need to work through several decisions. At a minimum for the drop network planning, gather the following information ahead of time:

  • Signal power and performance requirements for each device or revenue generating unit.
  • Locations of required splices.
  • List of cable lengths required.
  • A detailed map of the ducts with the space available in them.
  • Cost efficient construction routes and obstacle planning.
  • Regulatory approvals.
  • Geographic survey of customer addresses (verified).
  • In-house network installation plan with required approvals.

Once you have all the data above, you can begin to develop the timeline and plan for installation. The most complicated part of the planning process will be determining what is necessary to get the right signal levels at each device. The fiber network design and drop planning can be achieved with software, but will always require experienced network designers to maximize efficiency and check for feasibility.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Costs/ROI

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The last drop - agility for the next twenty years

Posted by Shaun Trezise


The last drop of a subscriber communications network - from the node or tap to the home (also known as the "drop network") - has traditionally been designed apart from the rest of the network. At this point, the signal - and the medium that carries it - has very different conditions and requirements than the other parts of the network; it is where the network leaves the sky or ground and enters into our homes.

This part of the network can be hard to change or to work with because of its existing connections and its very immediate impact on our customers' experiences. Making plans and decisions about the drop network involves different criteria and considerations than the rest of the network.

What is happening in the "drop"? 

The drop network is more and more burdened every year. The wide acceptance of HD content by consumers demands much higher and better quality capacity per user. OTT cloud based services require interactive and high quality capacity. All these raise the bar for the technology for connecting to the homes/rooms of customers. And this is before the widespread adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as sensors, security cameras, and other products that will all use the same broadband connection. In addition, soon full duplex DOCSIS 3.1 could deliver symmetrical speeds of 10 Gbit/s over a coax connection. 

Topics: Fiber to the home, Costs/ROI

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