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PPC blog

The importance of testing in fiber network deployments

Posted by Rich Contreras


Connecting a building to a fiber or coax network can be extremely complex. When planning the deployment, you need to take into account the environmental and topographical conditions, select the best installation methodology, and choose the right equipment for the job.

Then you have to implement the plan, essentially carrying out a civil engineering project to ensure the cable successfully reaches its destination. This can involve re-using existing ducts or creating completely new paths into, and then around, buildings.

However, this is not the end of the job, and perhaps the most vital part is yet to come – testing. This not only enables you to check that the connection works correctly, but, most importantly, that it is reliable, meets relevant industry standards, and is acceptable to the network owner. This should be required on all installs, even if the network owner hasn’t mandated it.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home

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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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PON fiber systems branch again with XGS-PON

Posted by Dave Stockton


In a previous blog I looked at the strong case for NGPON2, a fiber system which offers a minimum of 40 Gb/s aggregate downstream bandwidth, spread across four wavelengths, and a total upstream rate of 10 Gb/s. This successor to the lower capacity GPON system, NGPON2 is a composite Time- and Wavelength-Division Multiplexed Passive Optical Network (TWDM PON) system which uses time division as well as wavelength division multiplexing.

In that way it differed profoundly from the largely stalled NGPON1 system which solely used time division multiplexing. NGPON2 offered an immediate upgrade path to capacity of 80 Gb/s downstream and 20 Gb/s upstream. In comparison NGPON1 was limited to a one-off 4x capacity increase over GPON, but at significant capital cost.

The advantages of composite PON networks

TWDM PON systems offer great flexibility and scalability but the NGPON2 embodiment comes at a price, since it uses tunable lasers at the Optical Line Terminal (OLT) and tunable filters at the customer Optical Network Unit (ONU). This adds to cost and complexity.

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Fiber innovations

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Combining cable in duct and aerial for fiber deployments

Posted by Simon Roberts

Operators normally aim to standardize on a single fiber deployment methodology to simplify installations and reduce time to market. However, sometimes it isn’t possible to take this approach as terrain and other factors are too varied for a one-size-fits-all solution.

When extending its Pan-African fiber network to Rwanda, this is exactly the issue that Liquid Telecom faced. Liquid is building Africa’s largest single fiber network, currently stretching over 18,000km across Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho and into South Africa. Customers benefit from fiber to the home (FTTH) speeds in excess of 100Mbps.

Diverse natural surroundings mean that the challenges of installing FTTH in the suburbs of capital Kigali and the surrounding countryside require very different solutions. To meet these needs, Liquid Telecom has pioneered a toolbox approach to deployment, combining cable in duct FTTH with a tree and branch aerial solution. This provides the ability to select the best network design on a case-by-case basis, while ensuring the integration of these designs into the overall network.

Spurring from its Pan-African backbone, Liquid aimed to deliver up to 100Mbps connection speeds to its Rwandan customers. As with any FTTH network, the key to success is being first to market, meaning that speed was of the essence, without any sacrifice on quality and performance. Furthermore, Liquid Telecom had to implement its fiber network via installers that were used to handling copper.

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

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Fiber to the home and increased customer satisfaction

Posted by Maxine Frith

Let’s face it - the telecoms industry doesn’t have the best of reputations when it comes to customer satisfaction.

But something seems to be changing. Two years ago my husband and I came back to our home in Cambridge from two weeks in France to find our (and our neighbors') internet connection had been severed. However, what would normally be classed as a disaster has actually been a blessing in disguise, as our old lines were replaced by fiber to the home (FTTH) connections. Personally, as a freelance journalist I rely heavily on the internet, as does my husband and neighbors – not to mention the meltdowns that happen amongst our teenage children if they can’t get online.

But in the last 12 months, there have been no fevered meetings outside our front doors, no anguished dash to a cafe with laptop underarm. As a lay consumer, things have only improved. And surveys across Europe are showing this is not an isolated experience.

Recent research shows that FTTH customers are more than twice as happy with their service as DSL consumers. Not only that – FTTH subscribers are more likely to be thinking of upgrading in the next 12 months and to consider that their connectivity will increase the value of their home.

So FTTH customers like – even love - what they have – and are prepared to pay more for it. The Holy Grail of telecoms satisfaction may have been discovered.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Data/Statistics, Market trends

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4 questions to ask when installing fiber in multiple dwelling units

Posted by Rich Contreras


As the pace of fiber to the premises (FTTP) deployments increases, operators face a different challenge – successfully installing fiber within multiple dwelling units (MDUs), such as apartment buildings, offices, and hotels.

What makes this task difficult is that MDU is a whole new concept for many operators – particularly when installing fiber in existing buildings, with congested ducts. Most older buildings didn’t plan for future upgrades to technology such as fiber, limiting the space even more in these scenarios.

Every implementation is different, so to help planners and crews, here are four questions you should ask before beginning the process: 

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Design and Install, MDU

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The consolidation and future of fiber networks

Posted by Tim Gigg


On both sides of the Atlantic, we are seeing a growing buildout of metro fiber networks, as well as a consolidation of national fiber, which will provide the future backbone for applications, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities. 

In the US, AT&T, Google, and Zayo have taken the lead whereas in the UK, BT Openreach is the clear front-runner - albeit with a fiber to the cabinet (FTTC), rather than fiber to the home (FTTH) approach. Zayo has also acquired the Geo, Neo, and the Viatel networks, giving it a strong European network centered on the UK, especially with the fiber assets in the London underground sewer network, working in partnership with Thames Water.

Topics: Market trends, Regulatory/Policy, Fiber innovations

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The use of shared infrastructure to deploy fiber networks

Posted by Dave Stockton


Telecoms planners and installers know that new fiber network build costs are dominated by civils works (the installation of basic infrastructure into or above the ground).

The proportion of the build cost varies enormously, depending on circumstances such as the population density, projected uptake, urban or rural environment, and other local factors. Additionally, new in-ground techniques (slot cutting, directional drilling, and mole ploughing) can dramatically cut these costs.

However, where possible, planners aiming to reduce costs will try and remove the need for new civils builds altogether. One way to achieve this is to move into the world of shared infrastructure, sometimes known as "parasitic" technology.

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

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The Fiber Awakens: comparing Star Wars and fiber communications

Posted by Dan Jenkins


A long time ago, in a network far, far away an epic battle took place between a powerful Empire and a band of freedom-loving rebels... 

This week’s launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, got me thinking about the similarities between George Lucas’ films and the world of high-speed fiber communications.

Here are six areas that sprang to mind:

1. The changing fortunes of war/implementations

After early success destroying the Death Star, the rebels are pushed back, with their base on Hoth destroyed and their forces scattered across the universe. Yet, they regroup and take on the new Death Star, ultimately defeating the Emperor and Darth Vader.

These changing fortunes are pretty similar to Fiber to the Home (FTTH) networking. It started with lots of promise and high-profile deployments. But at the beginning of the new Millennium progress slowed, as the copper Empire struck back, only to accelerate again over the last couple of years as the technology went mainstream. Could the defeat of the Empire be in sight?

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Market trends

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Spain smashes UK in fiber rollouts

Posted by Maxine Frith

Spanish eyes are currently smiling on record growth in the fiber to the home (FTTH) market, as operators compete to roll out super-fast broadband across a country that has previously been slow to embrace new technology.

A report last week by Spain’s markets and competition watchdog, the CNMC, found that the number of FTTH lines has increased by more than 160 per cent in the last year, with no signs of any slowdown in the race to speed up internet access.

The CNMC figures revealed that in September there were 2.6 million Spanish FTTH connections, compared with 740,000 in 2014 and just 288,000 two years ago. Operators are adding 5,000 new lines a day, which totals 154,000 new connections a month. This means there are now 5.58 FTTH lines for every 100 inhabitants in the country, offering speeds that range from 30 to 300 Mbps.

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

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