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PPC blog

4 factors that influence how long your fiber network will last

Posted by David Stockton

When deploying a fiber network, one of the key factors used to calculate ROI is how long it will operate. After all, some copper networks have lasted 140 years in the UK, even if they can’t necessarily meet today’s high-speed broadband needs in their current form.

Optical fiber is inherently more fragile than copper. It is a particular type of glass (fused silica), with a typical tensile strength that is less than half that of copper. However, even though fused silica looks, and can feel, fragile and brittle, if correctly processed, tested and used it has proven to be immensely durable.

To assess the durability of any material it’s useful to consider certain attributes:

  • Initial strength
  • Rate of degradation
  • Any flaws that can weaken it
  • Reagents that can weaken it
  • Its optical lifetime - as the silica must still be able to function satisfactorily 

With this is mind, there are essentially four factors that will affect the longevity of your fiber network: 

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Market trends

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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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Ireland’s National Broadband Plan – the Emperor’s New Clothes?

Posted by Paul Ryan


Most of us know the story "The Emperor’s New Clothes" - Hans Christian Andersen’s fable where a foolish monarch is convinced that an invisible suit is the latest fashion, and parades in the nude before his subjects.

What people might not know is that the ending was tweaked while the story was at the printers – going from general admiration of the monarch’s new sartorial elegance by the populace, to a plaintive child’s cry of: “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” 

There has been a similar reaction to the Irish Government’s recent proposals for its National Broadband Plan (NBP) published this month. This sets a minimum of 30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload speeds for all users – a very low bar, according to many observers, such as the Irish Times, particularly as this has been described as a "once and for all solution".

Topics: Fiber to the home, Market trends, Regulatory/Policy

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Why we need to ditch copper for fiber networks

Posted by Paul Ryan


Today we are almost completely dependent on our connectivity. Thanks to the web, we are surfing, streaming, working more flexibly, and turning our homes, cars or other assets into moneymaking opportunities. And we’ve only just started.

Add in the nascent App Economy, the Internet of Things, and the fact that emerging markets will soon add another billion internet users, and it is obvious that our data usage will continue to grow rapidly. Being connected is key to full membership of modern society, and connectivity is a primary driver of future economic activity at a personal and national level.

So I ask you this: why, oh why, are we still relying on historic investments in copper to support this fast burgeoning data reality?

Copper/coax hybrid networks can no longer be the answer. Future proofing our economies and our citizens’ ability to participate fully in society needs investment in fiber networks and, unfortunately for those making the spending decisions, the future is now.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Market trends, Regulatory/Policy

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Why we all need fiber broadband

Posted by Paul Ekpenyong


Many years ago when I was in Japan on business, I had the pleasure of travelling on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen bullet train between Tokyo and Osaka. It is now the world's busiest high-speed rail line, with up to thirteen trains with sixteen cars each (containing 1,323 seats), running every hour in each direction between Tokyo and Osaka - with a minimum gap of three minutes between trains.

My journey was in the days when we were still talking about the possibility of high speed trains and the Channel Tunnel in the UK. Having ever only travelled on Amtrak and UK InterCity trains, the journey on the bullet train was a complete revelation. It was comfortable, fast, (really fast!) and smooth, as it transported us between the two cities. In fact, it was so effortless (compared to the rattling of the US and UK trains), that you hardly felt you were moving as it sped along. I marveled at the technology that made that possible and wondered why we were so far behind in other countries.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Market trends, Regulatory/Policy

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Multicore networks – the solution to future fiber bandwidth needs?

Posted by Dave Stockton

Even in the midst of current fiber network rollouts, research and development is continuing on the next generation of optical technology, looking to meet the future fiber bandwidth needs of both FTTH and core fiber networks. In this blog I’m going to look at multicore networks, an area where current research could have a big potential impact on future network design and implementation.

The space paradox

It may come as something of a surprise, but the majority of the optical fiber within networks is quite literally a waste of space! Even more bizarrely, the most modern fibers are the biggest waste of space of all.

This paradox arises because of the way fibers transmit the signal they are fed. It is the relatively small core (central portion) of the fiber that carries the information in the network. The remainder of the fiber (the cladding) is there to provide protection and to bulk up the fiber sufficiently that our clumsy human hands can manipulate it. In the case of earlier, multimode fibers with a 62.5 micron core (and 125 micron cladding diameter), 25% of the cross section area of the fiber is used for signal transmission. This decreased to just 16% of the cross sectional area for 50 micron core multimode fiber and now, in the current G.675C fibers, less than 0.5% of the glass cross section is actually used to carry the signal.

Topics: Market trends, Fiber innovations

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Fiber deployments and the Internet of Things

Posted by Joe Byrne

Previously, we’ve looked at the applications that will drive the need for Fiber to the Home (FTTH) networks. One of the areas mentioned was the Internet of Things (IoT), and in this blog I’d like to look in more detail at what it is and what it will do.

What is the Internet of Things?

In a nutshell the Internet of Things involves providing previously ‘dumb’ devices with connections to the internet. A good definition is from BT - “The Internet of Things refers to technologies that allow networked devices to sense other devices and interact and communicate with them.”

The ‘Things’ are real world objects – essentially anything that can have a sensor embedded within it and is able to communicate wirelessly with the wider world, such as vehicles, machines, buildings, people, animals, goods or the environment around us. One Dutch farmer has fitted his cows with sensors, so he can be alerted to any health issues or when they need milking.

Topics: Fiber to the home, MDU, Market trends

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Fiber to the Home connections poised to double in Europe

Posted by Tom Carpenter

Earlier in February, I attended the 2015 FTTH Europe conference in Warsaw, where there seemed to be greater optimism around the European fiber market than in previous years. This was backed up by the annual IDATE figures released by the FTTH Council Europe, which showed that the number of FTTH (Fiber to the Home) and FTTB (Fiber to the Building) subscribers had increased by 50% between 2013 and 2014.

In total, this means that there are now 14.5 million FTTH/FTTB subscribers in Europe, with a further 14.8 million in Russia and the Ukraine. Strong progress was seen in countries such as France, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Romania, while Germany is poised to enter the rankings, as it approaches 1% of homes subscribing to fiber. Lithuania continues to top the charts, with nearly 35% of households benefiting from fiber broadband, followed by Sweden and Latvia.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Data/Statistics, Market trends

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2015 and key trends in the US fiber market

Posted by Larry Malone

In a previous blog post, my colleague, Tom Carpenter gave his views on the global Fiber to the Home (FTTH) market, and discussed the ongoing "net neutrality" debate.

In this post, I’m going to delve down a level and look at the trends that the m2fx US team is seeing in the FTTH broadband market and beyond, as 2015 unfolds. Putting net neutrality aside, there are three areas I’d pinpoint:

1. Fiber to the Building (or Premise) continues to grow

The market demand for fiber broadband is there, and carriers are looking at how they can address it most cost-effectively. Consumers and businesses are keen to embrace faster speeds – Akamai’s recent State of the Internet report found that the US had an average connection speed of 11.5 Mbps, behind the likes of Finland, Switzerland and South Korea.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Market trends

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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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