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PPC blog

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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How fiber and wireless networks are converging

Posted by Dave Stockton


At first sight, a mobile network and a modern, optical fiber-rich, fixed line network have little in common. They might be seen as competitors. After all, we hear regular stories of consumers "cutting the cord" and meeting all their voice and basic data needs with their smartphones.

In fact, the opposite is true - the growth in data volumes that need to be transmitted quickly around the "mobile" core network cannot generally be met through mobile technologies.

Essentially, this means that the core of a mobile network is made up of fixed line, usually fiber, connections.

The anatomy of a wireless network

Before we look at how fiber and wireless networks complement each other, it is worth taking a step back to look at wireless technology overall. Mobile phones transmit and receive signals in the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, specifically in the region 872 to 960, 1710 to 1875 and 1920 to 2170 MHz in the UK. Just below that frequency range TV broadcasts are carried and at higher microwave frequencies radar, satellite communication, and specialized applications operate.

This means there is limited capacity for onwards transmission of mobile telephony or data over the electromagnetic spectrum, even if it were to be a technically efficient medium.

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Design and Install, Market trends, Industrial premises

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What’s in a fiber network?

Posted by Dave Stockton


We all regularly talk about Fiber to the Premise (FTTP)/Fiber to the Home (FTTH) networks. But, in an era of specialisation, often we only know about the parts that we come into contact with during our working lives - such as the last drop connection, in the case of installers.

So what’s in an FTTP network and how does it work?

In brief, an FTTP network is made up of two main parts:

  • The physical layer.
  • The active optoelectronics. These can be in the central office, the outside network (if any) and at the customer premise.

The ITU-T standard helpfully defines the extent of a fiber network through the G series of recommendations.

It is G.984.2 that is most relevant here, as it covers GPON networks, and it is PONs I’ll address during this post.

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

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Building a national fiber backbone in Africa

Posted by Tim Gigg


Many of us have experience of deploying fiber in the US and Europe, and know how tough that can be. However, installing fiber in Africa has its own unique challenges, as I found out when I worked at Ghana Telecom for two years after it was acquired by Vodafone.

Having never worked in Sub-Saharan Africa, I thought it would be a great challenge and opportunity, and was delighted when I got the job. Arriving was an experience in itself.

For those who have never been to Sub-Saharan Africa, it is difficult to convey the impact of arriving and stepping off the plane into 36 degrees Celsius; taking in your first impressions while your senses are assaulted by the noise, heat, and environment.

You are either hooked or can’t wait for the return flight. Fortunately, I was in the first camp. 

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

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Installing fiber and preserving history at Denver University

Posted by Dan Patuto


One of the toughest implementations to manage successfully can be when installing fiber at a Brownfield site, as we recently found at Denver University in Colorado.

Often crews won’t know what is already in place, making it difficult to plan, and forcing installers to think on their feet and reroute cables to fit into the available space.

The difficulty is compounded when buildings have been constructed before the 1930s - a time when building codes were more relaxed (or non-existent). Wherever they are located in the US, most of these don’t have integral ducts, and no-one currently employed has any knowledge of the structural details of how they were built. Spaces are normally cramped, leading to fiber being routed through multiple 90 degree bends to reach its destination. 

Adding to the potential headache, many buildings will have already been retrofitted with telephone or power cables after they were built, and the plans may not be available. Finally, particularly for older buildings, the aesthetics cannot be disturbed, so the installation has to respect the existing fabric, which may be structurally fragile by now.

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

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Picking the best fiber installation partner: why it starts with an RFP

Posted by Tom Carpenter

When creating a fiber network, even the best laid plans can be upset by deployment issues. While some of these, such as unexpected weather or unforeseen environmental problems can’t be legislated against, many factors can be controlled through good planning, and in particular by providing a clear, well-structured Request for Proposal (RFP).

Consequently, in this article I want to outline the four key steps to writing and issuing a successful RFP,  vital in helping you choose the best fiber installation partner for your project. Get it right and both the network planner and the installer have a strong platform to work to, which makes it easier to cope with any unforeseen problems if they occur.

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

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Bringing fiber to Africa – reporting from Angola

Posted by Del Jeffery

Across Africa, the deployment of high speed networks is accelerating, with the continent part-way through a connectivity transformation. The landing of submarine cables around the African coast has provided high capacity links to the Internet, but networks are needed to connect inland areas to these hubs. Additionally, a growing percentage of the population relies on mobile phones, not just to make calls but also to bank, shop and access the Internet, leading to a requirement for cost-effective data backhaul.

The market need

Both high speed broadband and backhaul networks for mobile operators increasingly rely on fiber. Previous deployments of copper-based networks had cost advantages, but in many places problems with bad terminations and cable theft have led to outages, meaning that fiber is becoming the solution of choice.

Across Africa fiber is now the preferred carrier of backhaul services with SDH, DWDM and MPLS deployed for protected services and FTTx, FWA, GPON and microwave radio being the preferred methods for last mile deployments.

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Design and Install

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Gigabit networks - what are the future options for copper and fiber?

Posted by Dave Stockton

It is one of life’s ironies that the equipment used to establish ultra-fast communication links, the telecommunications fixed network, has lived up to its name and remained fixed for several decades. The traditional metallic conductor-based ‘tree and branch’ architecture forms the basis of most telcos main networks. It has gradually evolved and provided more capacity, from basic 64 kbit/s telephony through dial-up ‘broadband’ to genuine broadband via wholly copper links (ADSL and ADSL2).

These systems nearly always use copper conductor cables that have remained largely unchanged for over 30 years. VDSL (also known as Fiber to the Cabinet) however started a change that used optical fiber to a deep cabinet (i.e. one near a customer group) to step up capacity, from the approximately 20 Mb/s ADSL limit to a figure nearer 100 Mb/s.

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Fiber to the home, Costs/ROI, Fiber innovations

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Taking a toolbox approach to FTTH deployments

Posted by Simon Roberts

Interest is rapidly growing across the African continent into new fiber to the home (FTTH) ‘last drop’ techniques that turn ‘homes passed’ into ‘homes covered’.

That was the message I took away from the recent FTTH Council Africa Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. The well-attended event, hosted in the imposing Turbine Hall, was full of presentations and discussions about overcoming implementation challenges and delivering the benefits of fiber to the home networks.

Africa is part way through a transformation when it comes to broadband connectivity. Submarine cables deliver huge capacity to multiple locations around the continent’s coast, but the vast majority of the population is not yet connected. Internet use has grown by a staggering 5320% since 2000 (6 times greater than the rest of the world), but just 21% of the population is online. This is less than half the global average of 43%. Clearly there is work to do, but there is a huge amount being done to bridge this gap.

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Fiber to the home, Costs/ROI, Market trends

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Key factors to consider with aerial fiber deployments

Posted by Shaun Trezise


Over 80% of FTTH rollouts rely on aerial fiber deployments in some form. So, why should you choose aerial over buried implementations and what do you need to factor into your planning if the project is going to be a success? This blog provides an introduction to the topic, along with the questions you need to ask.

When it comes to new networks, planners are looking to balance speed of deployment and the cost and skills required with subscription take-up rates. Networks need to be reliable, but also have to be easy to update as demand changes and new technologies become available. This is obviously equally true of both aerial and buried deployments.

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Design and Install

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