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David Stockton

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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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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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Twisting the light away

Posted by David Stockton

It is sometimes difficult to comprehend the explosive growth in data transmission rates over the last thirty years. We’ve moved from 56k dial up modems in the 1990s to a US government target to deliver speeds of 1 Gb/s to every home in the near future. This increase in capacity is necessary due to the explosion in the range and size of content being delivered across broadband networks – from video on demand and IPTV to real time collaboration and education tools. And of course millions of cute kitten videos.

Optical fibre is the only known transmission mechanism able to provide the capacity needed. However as demands increase the amount of traffic the backbone network will have to handle will consequently rise dramatically, onto a petabit and exabit scale. If all 20 million homes in the UK had a 1 Gb/s Fibre to the home (FTTH) connection you will require a core backbone network that has petabit level capacity. US and pan-European networks will need to work at exabit speeds one day.

Topics: Fiber innovations

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