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PPC blog

How to Prepare the Drop for DOCSIS 3.1

Posted by Dave Daly

Delivering DOCSIS services, whether it is 64 QAM upstream (3.0) or orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) 1024 (3.1), is often possible with minimal investment and network changes. However, to maximize delivery quality with the highest data speeds requires an in-home network resilient against interference and noise contributors. Where is your performance for the next generation of services? 

There are several obstacles to delivering DOCSIS technologies, including the common effects of loose connectors, signal level discrepancies and ingress/ egress. In addition, the peripheral wireless technology, long term evolution (LTE), is present in homes within the same spectrum (regionally specific) as broadband cable systems.

The question that cannot be avoided today is: "How do we consistently reach the DOCSIS 3.1 performance required while meeting the growing capacity demands?"

Topics: Design and Install

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Broadband Subscribers' Self-Installations: Getting it Right First Time

Posted by Dave Daly

A growing number of broadband subscribers are being given the option of installing or reinstalling customer-premises equipment (CPEs) themselves, with the help of self-install kits (SIKs). For the subscriber, this can lead to flexibility, autonomy, and independence when setting up their information and entertainment environments. Sometimes, however, it can lead to problems - and expensive service calls. 

Compared to the first generation of SIKs some twenty years ago, today's options are much improved and standardized. The original SIKs often contained a bewildering array of cables, connectors, and passives, including composite video cables, component video cables, HDMI cable, coax cable, audio, category cable, RF splitters and others. 

The matrix of possibilities was endless and confusing but with the standardization of connection devices for CPEs, the list is now more specific and sophisticated, including usually only coax cable, HDMI and category cable, depending on the services purchased. 

So, how do you make sure self-installations are done properly?

Topics: Design and Install, Broadband

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How Terminating Unused Ports Improves Broadband Network Performance

Posted by Dave Daly

Terminators are simple devices that electrically terminate RF coaxial ports, both inside and outside of the home. The unused tap ports or wall plates in the home can actually create a path for ingress and egress, which affects the network performance.

Low cost terminators have a tendency to fail, due to broken center conductors, moisture / corrosion, or both. Just one of these small devices can actually affect the entire upstream data path for many subscribers within that given area and can create costly service calls and lower the quality of experience.

Case studies have shown that terminating all unused tap ports in an average size node can result in a signal to noise improvement of more than 5db in the return path. Inside the home, electrically terminating unused ports on wall plates or actives and passives blocks ingress in the return path as well. Poor electrical terminations caused by moisture migration create havoc on system performance.

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

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Do you know how far you can bend your microduct and fiber?

Posted by Dave Daly

There is a limit to the bending ratio or tight diameter in a microduct or fiber cable - after which, the fiber starts to exhibit failure. The failure can be a slight increase in insertion loss or a "kink" in the fiber that creates a catastrophic effect.  

One of the challenges of installing fiber in the last drop of an FTTH network is knowing the overall distance and the amount of 90 degree angles you can have in the path you will be using. Distance and 90 degree turns create additional friction and add to the cumulative friction.

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

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Think You're Ready for the FTTx Drop Installation?

Posted by Dave Daly

Take our quiz to find out.

When it comes to actually implementing an FTTx network, there are many details to pay attention to.

Choices have to be made based on landscape topography – there is a big difference between an FTTx drop installation in rural and urban landscapes. Regulatory issues need to be addressed. Technical factors must also be carefully weighed – techniques like cable blowing and pulling only work in certain situations.

It is also critical that customers are not inconvenienced at any point during an FTTx implementation. No customer wants their property to be at the center of a major civil engineering project..

Then there is the matter of cost.

Lastly, it's important to consider whether the solution needs to be future-proof. Some cable can be ripped and replaced. But there are other options, such as direct unducted cable, which, once installed, cannot easily be removed or replaced.

These are just some of the many decisions that have to be made before beginning an FTTx implementation.

Do you think you are ready? Take the quiz below to find out.

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

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Hardline Connectors - Hidden Damage Stalking your Broadband Network?

Posted by Eric Purdy

Having the right hardline connectors is often overlooked when doing node replacements, node splits, or tap replacements in a broadband HFC (hybrid fiber coax) network. Because these connectors are not the most expensive part of a project, there can be a tendency to underestimate the amount of trouble they can cause if they are not properly installed or maintained.

In most HFC architectures today, the nodes are getting closer and closer to the subscriber as fiber slowly replaces coax. As the number of subscribers per node decreases, the number of nodes in a broadband network increases.

During these node splits, you will sometimes have the opportunity to improve existing performance by replacing old connectors with new ones. Each connector in a network may cause a small amount of return and insertion loss in the signal performance. If you haven't accounted for this loss in your network design, you will end up not meeting performance requirements, having poor subscriber experience, and not knowing exactly how to determine what went wrong. 

Topics: Design and Install

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How to Harden Closed Loop HFC Systems for the LTE Band

Posted by Rick Haube

LTE networks operating in the 700 MHz band are becoming widespread across North America and are growing globally as well. Broadband cable and some satellite systems occupy some of the same frequency bands.There have also been frequency auctions in the 600 MHz band - so the allocation of shared frequencies will soon span from 600 MHz – 800 MHz.  

Ideally, none of this should be an issue since the CATV coaxial plant is a closed loop transmission medium - if well-shielded coax is used and connections are tight. But often they are not.

It has been shown that  LTE operators do not deliver services well when coaxial networks "broadcast" signals in the LTE band and, conversely, coaxial networks don't deliver services well when they have LTE ingress, commonly caused by loose connectors and poor shielding performance of coax and passive devices.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home

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Minimizing install time with micro trenching

Posted by Martin Gossling

Digging up roads and pavement to install new networks of any sort is never popular. Local residents dislike the disruption and the noise while municipalities have to deal with increased congestion on busy roads, particularly if works overrun.

Installers, therefore, aim to get the job done as quickly as possible to minimize disruption and costs.

However, there's a growing need to install new broadband networks, particularly in congested urban areas, extending them all the way to individual buildings themselves.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home

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Choosing the Best Fiber Cable(s) for Fiber-to-the-CPE Installations

Posted by Rick Haube

When it comes to choosing the amount and type of fiber to use in your system, protecting the fiber that carries telecommunications services is of primary importance. Between access fiber to the home (FTTH), and premise fiber to the CPE, there can be uncertainty about when to use which types of fiber cable. Today's most common options include:

  • 900µ fiber
  • 900µ jacketed fiber
  • 250µ fiber within a strong polymer (2-4mm)
  • Fiber cable within microduct

Bringing fiber into a home requires that you carefully consider several factors to choose the correct cable. At all points in the FTTH installation, the fiber must be flexible, tough, and lightweight, and for residences, aesthetically pleasing. Most fiber cables can accommodate one or two of these features but not all four. In addition, you must factor cost into the equation as prices vary - however, the installation and operational cost far outweigh the capital. The bottom line is that each FTTH installation is somewhat unique – whether the site is a multiple dwelling unit or a single residence, there are many variables that will determine which types of fiber are most appropriate in the different parts of the installation. In most cases, one size will not fit all.

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Design and Install

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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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