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PPC blog

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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Demystifying singlemode fiber types

Posted by Shaun Trezise


To the layperson, all fiber cables can seem the same, with the only potential difference being in their dimensions. But look closer and there is a myriad of variations between them - and choosing the right one for your project can be vital in terms of performance, cost, reliability and safety.

Previously, we’ve discussed the bodies that set standards for fiber types and how you can ensure you pick the right cable to meet safety requirements, outlined by the National Electrical Code, and fire regulations

In this post, I’d like to explain a bit more about the differences between the specifications of the G.65x series of singlemode optical fiber families. These are set by the ITU-T and have equivalent specifications, created by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Rather than refer to both ITU-T and IEC terminology, I’ll stick to the simpler ITU-T G.65x naming convention - you can see how the specifications match up in the table at the end of this handy guide from the FIA.

There are 19 singlemode variants in the G.65x series, but I’ll group them together where possible. I won’t cover the G.651 multimode fiber standards to avoid any confusion.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Data/Statistics, Regulatory/Policy

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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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Is the plan for Irish fiber broadband about to get stuck in a ditch?

Posted by Paul Ryan

The Irish government has announced an ambitious National Broadband Plan (NBP) to intervene in the provision of broadband services covering 700,000 homes and businesses in rural areas. At best, the locations identified by the Government today have only very basic, if any, broadband services and commercial networks have no plans to provide them with high speed broadband.

Whilst the scheme is not specifically targeting fiber broadband, by implication most observers believe that the tender requirements dictate a fiber solution. The NBP aims to definitively address Ireland’s connectivity challenge by removing existing cost barriers, preventing commercial operators from providing high speed services to end users across the entire country.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Regulatory/Policy

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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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Choosing the right fiber cable to meet the National Electrical Code

Posted by Dave Stockton

In a previous blog, I looked at Standards Organizations, what they do and how they relate to each other. As a follow up this post looks at how installers can meet the specific US National Electrical Code (NEC) regulations by choosing the right fiber cable, and which standards to follow for individual deployments.

The US NEC covers building wiring requirements and is revised and reissued every 3 years, with NEC 2014 the current edition. It lists cables by their application, in line with the relevant ANSI, UL or CSA tests.

Article 770 and UL 1651 testing

For the fiber industry the key part of the NEC is article 770, which covers the installation of optical fiber cables and raceways in public and private buildings. There are exclusions for certain parts of specific industries such as mining, railways and electrical generation where the code doesn’t apply.

In UL 1651 the code identifies the following types of in-building optical fiber cables:

Topics: Design and Install, Regulatory/Policy

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Who sets the standards for fiber cable?

Posted by Dave Stockton

In the high-tech telecoms world, the credit for new advances often goes to smart scientists and busy entrepreneurs. However, there is a group of people without whom the whole interconnected machine would fall apart. These are the men and women that generate the standards – the norms – to which a particular item performs and perhaps, even more importantly, defines its interface with other parts of the system.

Most people in the industry have heard about the different standards bodies, but exactly who are these people, what do their organizations do and how do they operate? This blog post aims to shed light on the whole area of standards for fiber cable and provide an introduction to the benefits they provide.

Topics: Regulatory/Policy, Fiber innovations

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Choosing fiber cable protection to meet fire regulations

Posted by Shaun Trezise

Fire regulations for fiber cable protection vary across the world, meaning that a cable suitable for use indoors in one country may very well not be allowed in the same building structure elsewhere in the world. With these differences it’s not surprising if there’s confusion out in the field.

Here’s a brief guide to navigating around the potential minefield of meeting fire regulations in the United States and Europe, particularly in two areas - transitioning fiber from outdoor to in-building and halogen content of cables.

Topics: Design and Install, Regulatory/Policy

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