Since they were first introduced in the 1980s, optical fiber cables have dramatically shrunk in size. A 96 fiber cable can now weigh 30kg/km (down from 300kg/km) and have a diameter of 7mm, compared to 20mm for first generation cables.
Similarly, 12 fiber drop cables used to connect individual FTTH customers now weigh less than 10kg/km and have a diameter of 1-3mm. These are normally installed into microducts, which typically range in outside diameter size from 3-18mm.
This leads to new challenges for installers when it comes to equipment. Previously cables would have been installed with heavy equipment, such as winches and capstans, or heavy compressors and blowing heads. However, this has four big disadvantages in the last drop:
It requires multiple operators, pushing up costs.
2. Disruption and mess
Customers don’t want bulky equipment in their buildings or apartments, particularly if it damages their homes.
3. Equipment cost
Operators need to invest in buying or hiring expensive machines to carry out installations.
While the cable install itself may not take long, setting up (and dismantling machines) is time-consuming, limiting the number of installs that can be completed in a day.