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PPC blog

Linking industry to information through optical fiber

Posted by Larry Malone

When many people think of factories, they think of low technology, manual processes and hundreds of staff working on production lines. Nowadays nothing could be further from the truth – with the growth in automation and the use of smart machines factories are now full of the latest technology, with human involvement kept to a minimum.

First generation factory automation saw individual machines programmed and controlled locally, but as technology has matured machines are increasingly linked together to create a seamless process. A new part can be designed and its dimensions automatically delivered to the machine that will create it, without the need for human involvement. Monitoring can be carried out through remote sensors with the results automatically flagged to supervisors.

Topics: Fiber innovations

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Innovation in optical fiber

Posted by Dave Stockton


In the telecoms market innovation is constant as new standards and technologies are developed and rolled out around the world. The pace of change in the world of fibre optic cables is equally fast – making it a very exciting and rewarding sector to operate in.

At PPC we’ve been granted over 80 patents to date around the world for our pushable protective fibre cable technology – with a dozen more pending. On average we’re making three new applications every year, covering both our products and the equipment and processes we use to manufacture them.

By controlling the development and production of our Miniflex cables, ducts and protection products we ensure that they match the needs of installers and operators around the world, deskilling implementations and saving money and time when deploying FTTx networks.

Topics: Fiber innovations

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Protecting the data within data centres

Posted by Martin Gossling


The move to the Cloud and explosion in Big Data is driving unprecedented growth in the data centre market. Analyst company TechNavio forecasts a 10.7% global compound annual growth rate in the years up to 2016. And data centres themselves are becoming larger and more central to business operations. Over the same timeframe IDC predicts that US data centre total square footage will rise from 611.4 million to 700 million, even though the number of facilities would drop by half a million. IDC analyst Richard Villars believes that “The datacenter is evolving from a term to describe a room or building where I put my IT equipment to a term to describe the facility on which I’ll build and run my business.”

Data centres are complex environments, with particular needs. Continued availability is crucial, meaning they have to meet stringent Service Level Agreements (SLAs) but at the same time it must be simple to move, add or replace equipment without disrupting operations as requirements change.

Topics: Design and Install

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Keeping the oil flowing

Posted by Martin Gossling

The equipment used in oil and gas extraction has to be able to cope with the harshest of environments. From the sub zero temperatures of Alaska to the heat of the Middle East and the storms of the North Sea, both onshore and offshore platforms have to survive in the toughest conditions.

And climate is just part of the issue. Space is limited meaning everything is located close together and has to withstand the vibration, friction and heat caused by the constant operation of drills, pumps and other mechanical equipment. Salt water, sparks, ultra violet rays and corrosive chemicals used in the extraction process can all take their toll, causing vital devices to fail, with a major impact on production.

Topics: Fiber innovations

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Vive La France

Posted by Martin Gossling


Like many countries France is moving rapidly to a fibre optic future. Latest figures from telecoms regulator ARCEP found that there were 50,000 more fibre to the home (FTTH) subscribers in Q1 2013, a nearly 70% growth since the same period in 2012.

Putting this in context France had over 24.2 million broadband subscribers at the end of March 2013, and while DSL made up 98% of connections, this is changing. 19% of homes in France have now been passed by fibre and over 1 million customers have a 100 Mbps connection, a growth of 46% since 2012.

This growth is being driven by both government and operator investment. Back in February the French Government announced that €20 billion will be spent on fiber infrastructure to increase economic growth. These funds will come a combination of the state, operators, and local government to ensure that fibre networks reach as far as possible. Reports state that 50% of the country may well have access to fibre by 2017.

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Market trends, Fiber innovations

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Twisting the light away

Posted by David Stockton

It is sometimes difficult to comprehend the explosive growth in data transmission rates over the last thirty years. We’ve moved from 56k dial up modems in the 1990s to a US government target to deliver speeds of 1 Gb/s to every home in the near future. This increase in capacity is necessary due to the explosion in the range and size of content being delivered across broadband networks – from video on demand and IPTV to real time collaboration and education tools. And of course millions of cute kitten videos.

Optical fibre is the only known transmission mechanism able to provide the capacity needed. However as demands increase the amount of traffic the backbone network will have to handle will consequently rise dramatically, onto a petabit and exabit scale. If all 20 million homes in the UK had a 1 Gb/s Fibre to the home (FTTH) connection you will require a core backbone network that has petabit level capacity. US and pan-European networks will need to work at exabit speeds one day.

Topics: Fiber innovations

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Driving to the future

Posted by Martin Gossling

Cars have evolved rapidly over the last decade, moving from the analogue to the digital world. Technology such as video and audio entertainment systems, mobile communication, satellite navigation, voice operated controls and safety systems such as parking sensors and cameras rely on the high speed sharing of data around the vehicle.

Essentially cars are now mobile computers, with drivers and passengers expecting access to the internet and advanced services as they travel. Standards such as MOST (Media Oriented Systems Transport) are defining the communications architectures for today’s and tomorrow’s cars.

Topics: Fiber innovations

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Delivering fiber to multiple dwellings

Posted by Martin Gossling

Buildings come in all shapes and sizes, from single houses to massive tower blocks or hotels with potentially hundreds of different apartments or rooms. Growing demand for faster connection speeds means that operators need to be able to deploy fibre networks to every flat in a Multiple Dwelling Unit (MDU) quickly, cost-effectively and with minimal disruption to householders. Further complicating matters, tenants in individual flats may sign up for fibre, rather than the whole block, potentially pushing up costs and installation complexity.

We’re seeing a huge increase in FTTP deployments to MDUs across the world, from the US to the Middle East and Europe. There are a huge range of different types of installations from a simple two rooms across by two floors high all the way up to tall but thin skyscrapers and wide but low residential buildings.

Topics: MDU

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The ROI of pushable

Posted by Tom Carpenter

Deploying a fibre optic network can be an expensive business. Installing a new backbone network is a part of this, but delivering fibre from the kerbside to individual buildings is a substantial proportion of the cost. While each connection may not be very long (up to 200 metres) it is often the most complex part of an install as it needs to bend round obstacles between the manhole or cabinet and the premises themselves.

Add in the disruption to the neighbourhood of digging trenches and the need to gain entry to a building to install customer equipment and the difficulty increases even more. Now multiply this by the thousands of buildings that large carriers are looking to connect and you can see how costs increase dramatically. In many cases the last 200 metres are the most expensive of all network deployments.

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

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PPC heads to the Red Planet

Posted by Martin Gossling

PPC’s products are designed to protect optical fibre in the toughest surroundings. And while conditions on Earth can be difficult, venture into space and things get a whole lot tougher – once you’ve launched, you can’t repair anything that goes wrong. So we’re delighted that our Miniflex protective tube is going to be part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ExoMars mission, investigating if life ever existed on the Red Planet.

The 2018 ExoMars mission will land a European rover and a Russian surface platform on Mars, with the rover then travelling autonomously across the planet, for an estimated six months, drilling to collect samples which it will then analyse using its advanced, on-board instruments. It will be first mission to combine the capability to move across the surface with the ability to study Mars at depth.

The 200kg rover will establish the physical and chemical properties of Martian samples, mainly from the subsurface. These underground samples, drilled from a depth of up to 2 metres, are more likely to include biomarkers that show potential life, since the Martian atmosphere offers little protection from radiation on the surface.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber innovations

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