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PPC blog

Optical connections in the drop network - how to save money and time

Posted by William Crawford


Fusion splicing is often used and is appropriate for trunk portions of a network; it offers low optical and reflection loss and splicing efficiency for large fiber bundles.

When it comes to the drop network, however, with only a couple of connectors per drop, you can achieve substantial cost savings by using mechanical connections or pre-terminated fiber cables. Using fusion splicing in the drop adds time and cost.

In this post, we will examine the impracticality of fusion splicing in the last few hundred feet to the premise vs. cost savings from mechanical optical connections, and pre-terminated fibers. 

Optical loss

The typical loss budgeted for a fusion splice is 0.1dB and 0.3dB for a mechanical connector. Considering that most subscriber drops will have two localized optical connections between their devices and the distribution network, using connections that install fast and with ease should be considered. It is highly unlikely that the optical loss budget in the network design will be affected by these last two connectors - because the loss in each drop is not aggregated in the distribution network, there will be negligible impact on the loss.

Topics: Design and Install, Costs/ROI

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Pushable fiber in the drop network - how to speed up your installation

Posted by Shaun Trezise


Pushable fiber can be installed quickly and cost-effectively as the fiber drop for the final few hundred feet of a network.

The beauty of pushable fiber is that less skilled labor and less expensive equipment are required.

Another option is pulling, which is typically used for longer distances. Unless the microduct already contains a pull-cord, it will first require the cord to be drawn into the duct, or a fish tape to be installed, both adding time to the install. Assuming a pull-cord exists, it will, of course, need to be removed for pushable applications.

Compared to blowing fiber, both of these approaches are more flexible in terms of the number of crew members and the logistics or access to the duct. Blowing fiber also requires expensive equipment, and takes time to set up and dismantle, limiting the number of installations possible in a day. In some cases, blowing equipment may not be permitted on-site for reasons of access, disruption and safety.

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

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FTTx project management segments for successful deployments

Posted by Peter Carapella


There are numerous tasks involved in deploying fiber to the home (FTTH) technology and while some are obvious, others require more thought and consideration. In general, the tasks fall into three categories: preparation; installation and delivery; and measuring/verifying.

The design of an FTTx installation requires you to know the optical power required to reach the end user, to understand the conditions within the terminating premise, and to have details of the speeds and bandwidth required for each user.

1. Preparation

Depending on the factors cited above, you will need to work through several decisions. At a minimum for the drop network planning, gather the following information ahead of time:

  • Signal power and performance requirements for each device or revenue generating unit.
  • Locations of required splices.
  • List of cable lengths required.
  • A detailed map of the ducts with the space available in them.
  • Cost efficient construction routes and obstacle planning.
  • Regulatory approvals.
  • Geographic survey of customer addresses (verified).
  • In-house network installation plan with required approvals.

Once you have all the data above, you can begin to develop the timeline and plan for installation. The most complicated part of the planning process will be determining what is necessary to get the right signal levels at each device. The fiber network design and drop planning can be achieved with software, but will always require experienced network designers to maximize efficiency and check for feasibility.

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

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The challenge of delivering fiber to multiple dwelling units

Posted by Shaun Trezise


Over half of the world’s population lives in units of 100+. In cities this figure can be even higher. This concentration and variety creates a challenge for operators looking to install fiber to the home (FTTH) connections. Essentially, mutliple dwelling units (MDUs) are like snowflakes - no two are the same, meaning that each one has to be handled as a separate, complex civil engineering project.

Adding to this complexity, the vast majority of these buildings were constructed before fiber networks were even thought of, meaning they aren’t designed to accommodate standard fiber connections. 83% of US MDUs were built before 2000, and over half (52%) before 1980. So there is often no obvious way to route fiber to individual apartments.

Building owners and their tenants want the speed of fiber, but are less keen on any disruption or damage it might bring. 30% of consumers that sign up for FTTH service change their minds when an installation technician asks if he can drill holes in the wall and run cables along it.

So how can operators make their deployments cost-effective and keep consumers and building owners happy? There are five key rules to follow:

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

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How to guard against damage to your fiber network

Posted by Shaun Trezise

Protecting your fiber network is vital to ensure you continue to deliver services to your customers, retain their business, and get a good return on your investment. However, there are a number of ways that your network can be damaged or even destroyed - how can you minimize risk and guard against failures?

The enemies of your fiber network fall into five main groups:

1. Animals!

Members of the animal kingdom seem to have a fascination with cable, and a single-minded desire to destroy it. Rodents, birds, monkeys and insects have all caused major issues with connections - even bears have been known to try and chew cables in remoter regions. There are plenty more examples of animal attacks in this previous blog, making them public enemy number one for many operators.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Data/Statistics

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6 ways to reduce FTTH implementation costs

Posted by Tom Carpenter

As operators increasingly focus on deploying fiber to the home (FTTH) across their networks, they are looking at how they can minimize deployment costs, and therefore increase their return on investment. From our experience of working with FTTH installations across the globe, we see six ways of reducing FTTH implementation costs, while ensuring high quality, reliable connections. 

1. Eliminating blowing

Traditional fiber backbone networks can stretch for miles and, therefore, require expensive blowing equipment to propel the cable through duct. This type of equipment simply isn’t needed on FTTH last drops. Instead, crews can quickly complete last drop connections by pushing or pulling cables, even around tight corners. For more complex or longer installs, pushing can be aided by simple, cost-effective handheld blowing machines, or pulled through the duct using a pre-attached pull cord. Pushing or pulling reduces equipment costs and install time.

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

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Installing broadband service - getting it right the first time

Posted by Esther Wise


99% isn’t good enough! The cable industry is changing rapidly, with consumers increasingly demanding greater capacity so that they can download and stream video entertainment and adopt new cloud-based services.

In order to deliver the increased capacity per subscriber, it is vital to keep out moisture and maintain the drop plant to insure optimal signal transmission. The plant and connectors must be tight to keep signal levels within the range for the customer premises equipment (CPE), while automated testing catches many issues early in the installation process. It’s the craft errors and the intermittent issues that create havoc.

These pressures are only going to increase. DOCSIS 3.1 requires even more stringent efforts to produce a flawless drop plant and new technology leaps. Ultra HD and MoCA will also raise the performance threshold of service delivery.

So how can we guard against issues such as digital pixilation and slow/no data speed - the two largest reasons those subscribers call the service desk?

Topics: Design and Install, Costs/ROI

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Understanding optical loss in fiber networks - and how to tackle it

Posted by Shaun Trezise

Optical fiber is a fantastic medium for propagating light signals, and it rarely needs amplification in contrast to copper cables. High-quality single mode fiber will often exhibit attenuation (loss of power) as low as 0.1dB per kilometer.

Power or strength of the signal (measured in dB), will always be higher at the head end or central office of the network connection than at the customer end, as it’s impossible not to incur some degradation of light over the length of the network connection. If the impact is too great then performance suffers, so understanding and measuring these losses is a critical part of network installation and testing.

For network planners, the bulk of the loss budget is spent between the final node and the customer’s network terminal. Splitters add significant loss to this part of the network - far greater than fiber connectors and other passive components. When measuring the attenuation effects of these components, we use the terms insertion loss (IL) and return loss (RL).

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

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The challenges of deploying fiber alongside coax

Posted by Peter Carapella


In a more and more competitive market, cable operators are increasingly looking to deploy fiber alongside coax services to their subscribers. This delivers the best of both worlds – coax provides a known, well-understood connection that is proven to handle standard TV and voice calls, while fiber delivers the superfast broadband performance that consumers are now demanding for high-speed internet access and media streaming.

There is now much greater competition between cable, fixed-line and cellular operators, leading to consolidation and a need for companies to differentiate themselves. The need to supply increasing capacity per subscriber is accomplished by deploying advanced technologies and fiber deeper into the network. Therefore, adding fiber to the premises (FTTP) to their existing coax offering allows cable operators to deliver new, additional products and services, retain existing customers and win new ones.

However, it also brings new challenges, particularly around the installation and cost-effective maintenance of two different technologies. There are four key issues that operators and installers need to overcome when deploying fiber alongside coax:

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

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Meeting the multi dwelling unit fiber challenge

Posted by Simon Roberts


The combination of greater urbanization and pressure on space means that more and more of the global population is now living in multi dwelling units (MDUs), such as apartment blocks. This adds another level of complexity for operators looking to deploy fiber to the home (FTTH)/fiber to the premises (FTTP) networks. Not only do they have to cost-effectively connect the building itself, but they also need to deliver fiber to paying customers within the building, in a timely and efficient manner. MDUs also come in all shapes and sizes, from multi-story apartment blocks with hundreds of tenants, to low rise buildings with much smaller numbers of occupants.

This was the challenge that faced Liquid Telecom when it came to deploying fiber to Kenyan capital Nairobi. Liquid Telecom 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. It delivers the highest quality FTTH services, with customers benefiting from speeds in excess of 100Mbps.

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

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