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PPC blog

Shaun Trezise

Recent Posts

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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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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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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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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The challenge of delivering fiber to multiple dwelling units

Posted by Shaun Trezise


Over half of the world’s population lives in units of 100+. In cities this figure can be even higher. This concentration and variety creates a challenge for operators looking to install fiber to the home (FTTH) connections. Essentially, mutliple dwelling units (MDUs) are like snowflakes - no two are the same, meaning that each one has to be handled as a separate, complex civil engineering project.

Adding to this complexity, the vast majority of these buildings were constructed before fiber networks were even thought of, meaning they aren’t designed to accommodate standard fiber connections. 83% of US MDUs were built before 2000, and over half (52%) before 1980. So there is often no obvious way to route fiber to individual apartments.

Building owners and their tenants want the speed of fiber, but are less keen on any disruption or damage it might bring. 30% of consumers that sign up for FTTH service change their minds when an installation technician asks if he can drill holes in the wall and run cables along it.

So how can operators make their deployments cost-effective and keep consumers and building owners happy? There are five key rules to follow:

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

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How to guard against damage to your fiber network

Posted by Shaun Trezise

Protecting your fiber network is vital to ensure you continue to deliver services to your customers, retain their business, and get a good return on your investment. However, there are a number of ways that your network can be damaged or even destroyed - how can you minimize risk and guard against failures?

The enemies of your fiber network fall into five main groups:

1. Animals!

Members of the animal kingdom seem to have a fascination with cable, and a single-minded desire to destroy it. Rodents, birds, monkeys and insects have all caused major issues with connections - even bears have been known to try and chew cables in remoter regions. There are plenty more examples of animal attacks in this previous blog, making them public enemy number one for many operators.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Data/Statistics

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Understanding optical loss in fiber networks - and how to tackle it

Posted by Shaun Trezise

Optical fiber is a fantastic medium for propagating light signals, and it rarely needs amplification in contrast to copper cables. High-quality single mode fiber will often exhibit attenuation (loss of power) as low as 0.1dB per kilometer.

Power or strength of the signal (measured in dB), will always be higher at the head end or central office of the network connection than at the customer end, as it’s impossible not to incur some degradation of light over the length of the network connection. If the impact is too great then performance suffers, so understanding and measuring these losses is a critical part of network installation and testing.

For network planners, the bulk of the loss budget is spent between the final node and the customer’s network terminal. Splitters add significant loss to this part of the network - far greater than fiber connectors and other passive components. When measuring the attenuation effects of these components, we use the terms insertion loss (IL) and return loss (RL).

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

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VECTOR – the end to field-fit connector issues?

Posted by Shaun Trezise


Fitting connectors to fiber optic cables in the field is a complex and highly specialized task. It is easy for dust and dirt to contaminate connectors, blocking the optical signal and leading to light loss, reducing power and efficiency. It is also a delicate process requiring dexterity and high attention to detail. In some instances, the cable has to be scrapped, and the process started again if the fiber performance is not satisfactory.

Consequently, field splicing connectors has become a highly specialized art, requiring highly skilled staff armed with expensive fiber splicing equipment. As fiber network rollouts accelerate, this approach is simply no longer adequate to meet operator needs for speed, efficiency, and cost-effective deployments.

Finding skilled staff can be expensive, particularly in developing countries or for new market entrants - yet there is a need to minimize installation time and operating expenses around deployments.

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

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Demystifying singlemode fiber types

Posted by Shaun Trezise


To the layperson, all fiber cables can seem the same, with the only potential difference being in their dimensions. But look closer and there is a myriad of variations between them - and choosing the right one for your project can be vital in terms of performance, cost, reliability and safety.

Previously, we’ve discussed the bodies that set standards for fiber types and how you can ensure you pick the right cable to meet safety requirements, outlined by the National Electrical Code, and fire regulations

In this post, I’d like to explain a bit more about the differences between the specifications of the G.65x series of singlemode optical fiber families. These are set by the ITU-T and have equivalent specifications, created by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Rather than refer to both ITU-T and IEC terminology, I’ll stick to the simpler ITU-T G.65x naming convention - you can see how the specifications match up in the table at the end of this handy guide from the FIA.

There are 19 singlemode variants in the G.65x series, but I’ll group them together where possible. I won’t cover the G.651 multimode fiber standards to avoid any confusion.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Data/Statistics, Regulatory/Policy

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The importance of cleanliness to successful fiber installations

Posted by Shaun Trezise


Deploying fiber in the field is often a dirty job. Installing in new buildings means working on a construction site, with all the mud, dust, and rainwater that this entails. Digging trenches for fiber ducts adds to the mess, and a sudden storm can turn the whole site into a quagmire

It isn’t necessarily much cleaner indoors, with deployments in existing buildings subject to dust and debris from the installation methods needed to create space for fiber, such as drilling into ceilings and walls.

There are three key reasons that all this dirt and contamination is an issue during fiber installations:

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

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