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PPC blog

Does “American Made” help your customers?

Posted by Krista Tysco

Made in America is a rare sight on packaging and labels, but seeing that label doesn’t just instill American pride and tout American jobs for cable and Internet providers.

Working with a company that can provide innovative and custom products with delivery in a matter of days, instead of weeks or months, can save time and improve subscriber satisfaction.

Local facilities prepared for customer requests

If a product needs to be shipped from the other side of the world, it will take much longer to arrive at a service provider’s facility than if it’s shipped from within their own country, possibly from within their own region or state. Installations and repairs can be done much sooner if product is locally available, generating revenue and customer satisfaction. Ideally, providers should source products with shipping as one of the major considerations for purchase.

Topics: Costs/ROI, Broadband, Fiber innovations

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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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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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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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Best practice for installing fiber through micro trenching

Posted by Shaun Trezise

When deploying a fiber network, traditional trenching methods can be expensive and time-consuming - and cause extensive disruption to the local area.

In a city, for example, streets have to be closed while they are dug up - annoying residents, drivers and local authorities. Costs for labour, permits and restoration fees are high, adding to budgets and even making some projects uneconomic.

Consequently, many installers are now switching to micro trenching (also known as slot-cut trenching). This offers substantial benefits over traditional methods as it involves using a diamond circular saw to cut a 0.75 - 1.5 inch wide, 4 inch deep trench. Microduct is installed in the bottom of the trench and it is then backfilled and sealed, speeding up the project.

By comparison, traditional trenches are at least 12 inches wide, in order to fit the size of the smallest excavator buckets, and deployments take more passes to backfill. These factors combined mean that micro trenching is typically 60 per cent cheaper than traditional excavations, as well as being much less disruptive to the urban environment.

Topics: Design and Install, Industrial premises, Fiber innovations

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How Ultra HD TV will drive fiber to the home connections

Posted by Joe Byrne

In previous blogs, we’ve looked at what will drive demand for the increased bandwidth that fiber to the home connections provide. One of the biggest drivers is likely to be 4K (also known as Ultra HD) TV.

As the name suggests, 4K TVs deliver four times as much detail as current 1080p full HD sets. That's eight million pixels, compared to two million pixels, so pictures will have much better definition and higher quality.

Ultra HD TVs are selling in increasing numbers. Worldwide sales in Q1 2015 were 4.7 million units - up by 400 per cent, compared to the same quarter in 2014 - according to analysts IHS. That’s against a backdrop of overall TV sales shrinking by two per cent year-on-year. Prices for Ultra HD TV sets are dropping as more and more products hit the market. No wonder that consultancy Futuresource predicts that 4K TV sets will make up 42 per cent of the global market by 2018.

The reason that 4K TV will impact bandwidth needs is simple - in the short to medium term the majority of Ultra HD content will be streamed over the internet. Netflix and Amazon are leading the way, providing TV shows, such as House of Cards, in UItra HD, along with a variety of movies from major studios. In fact, from 2014 all Amazon Studios shows are being shot in 4K. In the UK, BT has just launched an Ultra HD sports channel, the first in Europe. This is showing Premier League football matches and MotoGP motorbike racing.

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

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Next generation fiber architectures in cable and telco networks

Posted by David Stockton

In a previous blog I explored the move from GPON to NGPON2 fiber architectures, as telcos look to deliver gigabit speeds to their users. Things have been moving fast in the area of passive optical network (PON) architectures, so this post provides an update on developments and also covers how cable companies are meeting the challenge of providing greater bandwidth to their subscribers.

Cable architectures – DOCSIS 3 and RFoG

First, let’s look at cable companies and their existing fiber architectures. One of the little secrets of the cable industry is that, despite what the marketing might say, the last drop relies on coaxial cable with a copper conductor, rather than fiber to the building itself. While this is designed to deliver better performance than the copper used within the networks of incumbent telcos, it isn’t the full superfast fiber network that some cable companies might have you believe.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber innovations

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What is pushable fiber and why do we need it?

Posted by Joe Byrne


When it comes to deploying fiber networks, installers and planners face multiple challenges. This is particularly true when it comes to the last drop section, between the curb and the premises, or inside buildings themselves. The natural landscape and the built environment vary between deployments, which makes every install a standalone civil engineering project that requires planning, skill and experience to deliver.

Time is money, so deployments need to be carried out as quickly as possible – without compromising quality, reliability or upsetting home or business owners.

Traditional methods of installing fiber (blowing or pulling) are not well suited to the demands of the last drop. This has led to the emergence of pushable fiber – a relatively new way of meeting deployment challenges.

This blog looks at what pushable fiber is, its advantages and why it is needed.

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

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Why GPON needs to change - introducing NGPON2

Posted by Dave Stockton


When deciding the best fiber architecture for their network, planners have to make the choice between point to point (P2P) or a passive optical network (PON).

Both have strengths and weaknesses, as we covered in a previous blog

The majority of network operators have invested in GPON and GEPON architectures.

However, since they’ve been installed, predicted bandwidth needs have increased dramatically, meaning that they now need to change.

Consequently, much work has been done in creating a successor to GPON and GEPON, ensuring that PON architectures are able to underpin future, higher capacity networks.

After a false start along the way, the new NGPON2 standard, created by the FSAN group, looks set to achieve this.

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

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