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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.

Fusion SplicingMechanical splicingPre-terminated cable

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.  

 A single fusion splice may be something like $.50 vs. a mechanical splice of $5-12. On the surface of it, fusion splicing is less expensive. But when you add in the cost of the setup time for one splice, it more than negates the cost savings of the splice by adding the labor time. At $60-120/hr, a fusion splice in a drop location will cost $30-$60 labor plus the splicing cost.

A mechanical splice would also require cable prep time, plus the $5 - $12 connector price. Even less expensive than that is using pre-terminated fiber cable. At the cost of a little more careful planning as to lengths of fibers needed, pre-terminated fibers can be installed quickly and with no training.

In the charts below from the Fiber Optic Association you will see the setup times and task times required for fusion splicing.

Fusion Splice - Metric Benchmarking 

1 x fiber tech per joint

Cable size Preparation Splice and Coil Total
4-fiber 20-min 10-min    30-min
8-fiber 20-min 20-min 40-min
12-fiber 25-min 30-min 55-min
24-fiber 35-min 45-min 1hr 20-min
48-fiber 40-min 1hr 20-min 2 hr
Cable size 4-fiber
Preparation 20-min
Splice and Coil 10-min
Total 30-min
   
Cable size 8-fiber
Preparation 20-min
Splice and Coil 20-min
Total 40-min
   
Cable size 12-fiber
Preparation 25-min
Splice and Coil 30-min
Total 55-min
   
Cable size 24-fiber
Preparation 35-min
Splice and Coil 45-min
Total 1hr 20-min
   
Cable size 48-fiber
Preparation 40-min
Splice and Coil 1hr 20-min
Total 2hr
   

 

2 x fiber techs or a fiber tech and assistant per joint

Cable size Preparation      Splice and Coil Total
72-fiber 1hr 30-min 4hr 5hr 30-min
96-fiber 2hr 30-min 6hr 8hr 30-min
144-fiber 4hr 8hr 12hr
Cable size 72-fiber
Preparation 1hr 30-min
Splice and Coil 4hr
Total 5hr 30-min
   
Cable size 96-fiber
Preparation 2hr 30-min
Splice and Coil 6hr
Total 8hr 30-min
   
Cable size 144-fiber
Preparation 4hr
Splice and Coil 8hr
Total 12hr
   

 

As fiber migrates into MDUs, office optical interfaces, or inside homes with fiber CPE devices, each splice becomes more and more expensive because of the setup time.

The best option might be a single uninterrupted run that doesn’t require splicing, or a mechanical splice. The fact that mechanical splices have higher losses than fusion splicing is much less important in the drop because the loss applies to only one home or location, whereas that loss in the trunk fiber would affect the system as a whole.

 Pushable fiber makes FTTP installations fast and affordable

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Costs/ROI

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