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PPC blog

Focusing on the father of fibre optics

Posted by Dave Stockton

This week sees the 80th birthday of Sir Charles Kuen Kao, the pioneering electrical engineer who has been described as the Father of Fibre Optics and Godfather of Broadband. Joint winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2009 for ‘groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication’, his work is seen as integral to the widespread use of fibre optics today.

Born in China, he moved to the then British territory of Hong Kong in 1948 and then came to the UK, where he carried out much of his research at Standard Telecommunication Laboratories (STL) in Essex.

Topics: Fiber innovations

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The state of broadband Britain – the global picture

Posted by Tom Carpenter

In a previous post we discussed the options consumers and businesses have when it comes to high speed broadband in the UK. In this follow on piece, we’ll take a look at the UK’s position compared to other countries around the world – and future plans in this area.

Countries around the world see the positive impact that high speed broadband can have on their economies – making companies more productive, enabling services such as telemedicine and e-learning and underpinning innovation. So there is a global drive to increase the rollout of high speed networks

Topics: Market trends, Fiber innovations

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PPC launches new Plenum PV range of pushable fiber products

Posted by Shaun Trezise

New York, 30 September 2013: PPC, the inventors and producers of the world-leading range of patented Miniflex™ fiber cables, today launched its new Plenum PV range of fiber cables and microducts. The innovative new Miniflex Plenum PV range enables the safe deployment of fiber optic cables within the airway/plenum spaces of buildings, providing a tough, lightweight, flexible and easy to install solution. This brings down the time and cost of fiber deployments by speeding up installations in buildings of all sizes,while meeting the strict safety criteria governing plenum deployments.

Engineered from toughened polymer to meet the tight specifications and exacting demands of the environment, the compact Plenum PV products all meet US National Electrical Code (NEC) specifications, and have received UL product certification after extensive testing on their low smoke and low fire hazard capabilities.

Topics: Fiber innovations

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Mobile and Optical Fiber - the need to work together

Posted by Tom Carpenter

Over half of us now have a smartphone and we’re using mobile devices for more and more data intensive applications. It is predicted that by 2014, more people will access the web through mobile devices than PCs.

Little wonder that Cisco’s Visual Networking Index predicts that global mobile data traffic will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 78% between 2011 and 2016. That means they will generate over 10 exabytes of data every month. 4G technologies such as LTE and WiMAX will increase this even more – with sustained data rates of 100 Mbps (downlink) and 50 Mbps (uplink) already available on some handsets. Compare this to the 3G specification of 144 kbps in a moving vehicle, 384 kbps while walking and 2 Mbps inside and you get an idea of the scale of the approaching tsunami of data.

Coping with this information overload will be a challenge for existing mobile networks as they need to scale up their infrastructure. A 2G base station generates 1.3 Mbps of traffic, but an LTE version requires 80 Mbps capacity – 60 times more. Of course the vast majority of this traffic isn’t wireless at all – once it reaches the nearest cell it uses mobile backhaul, being transferred to fixed line networks to optimise performance and efficiency. This reduces the need to use expensive and scarce spectrum for anything but the smallest distances.

Topics: Fiber innovations

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Broadband cabling – what are the options?

Posted by Guest Blogger

On the Making Light Work blog, we’ve talked a lot about the growth of high speed networking and the move to fibre networks around the world and in different industries. But what’s the situation in the UK and what are the choices? We’re going to cover this in a two part series, looking at the existing options and then comparing the UK against other countries around the world.

So, to begin, in this guest blog Matt Powell, editor for UK consumer comparison site BroadbandGenie.co.uk, explains what’s currently available for consumers.

If you were online during the early days of the world wide web your connection was probably provided by a sluggish dial-up modem with a per-minute charge that could quickly rack up a hefty telephone bill.

Topics: Fiber innovations

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Withstanding the force of a baby elephant!

Posted by Dave Stockton

As part of our ongoing product development we’ve been conducting advanced crush resistance and impact force testing of our Miniflex protective technology. This has been replicated by independent labs who have verified our results and builds on our latest UL product certification for low smoke and low fire standards. We’ve found two vital advantages of Miniflex when it comes to protecting fibre cables.

Firstly, crush resistance. In combination our Miniflex cable and duct can withstand a force of 4000 Newtons over 100 mm without any damage to the fibre itself. Putting this in context that’s the equivalent of a baby elephant weighing 385kg (850 lb)standing on one foot on the Miniflex protective tube – and the fragile cable continuing to operate normally. In more everyday surroundings it shows that Miniflex can be stood on, hit with hammers during installation and survive being bumped by vacuum cleaners, ensuring reliability and guaranteeing a long and trouble free life

Topics: Fiber innovations

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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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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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