Finding the ideal fiber installation solution for Multi-dwelling Units (MDU), normally apartment blocks or hotels, is a major obstacle that carriers face as the pace of Fiber to the Home (FTTH) deployments increases to meet the ever increasing consumer demand for bandwidth.
Carriers have to be able to offer the same capacity and high speeds to consumers living in MDUs as they provide to those within Single-dwelling Units (SDU). However the longer deployment time and higher cost of implementing fiber to the MDU are putting a brake on the growth for in-building connections.
Methods of Installing Fiber in MDUs
Traditional solutions call for riser-rated fiber optic cable to be blown from the basement to each floor, where a splice is made via the termination box, before a separate fiber optic cable is run via new or existing microduct to the individual apartment. With often more than 10 apartments per floor, this adds to installation time and complexity.
Not only does the carrier have to invest in expensive and time-consuming installation equipment, which they have to retrain their engineers to use or increase the installation budget by bringing in third party contractors, they also have to overhaul or install new ducts and fiber termination equipment. All of this adds up to considerable costs that make it uneconomic to fiber up an MDU in many cases.
Alternatively, many carriers are now adopting a different methodology, running the cable in a point-to-point scenario directly from the basement to the apartment. This removes the need to splice at each floor, which overcomes resource and skill levels, but introduces further complexity with riser rated cable going directly into the consumer’s apartment.
This increases the intricacy of cable management, although it does eliminate a single point of failure, with each apartment receiving its own direct fiber connection.
The Regulatory Landscape
As part of national efforts to ensure widespread adoption of superfast fiber broadband, many countries are making it mandatory to install fiber within new or existing MDUs. In Qatar for example, the incumbent provider Qatar National Broadband Network has a requirement to install four fibers to each residence in MDUs with more than 100 apartments over the next two years. According to industry estimates, this could potentially prove a challenge solely using traditional blown fiber solutions.
As the migration from cable to fiber continues, this dilemma will only grow and potentially further governmental legalization will mandate that carriers have to manage this transformation in the same manner as SDU connectivity.
The result? With traditional implementation methods the cost per installation breaks the business case for FTTH to the MDU, meaning that consumers are starved of the data they are willing to pay more for. This removes potentially lucrative longer term sources of revenue for carriers as they simply can’t install cheaply enough.
The Pushable Fiber Solution for MDUs
To meet this growing global need, carriers are turning to cable companies that can deliver ‘pushable’ fiber. This removes the need for expensive, time consuming and highly skilled blowing equipment as fiber can simply be pushed or pulled to its destination by hand. This vastly lowers installation time while reducing the cost, and without impacting protection.
To further reduce the need for highly skilled staff and lower time consuming installation requirements, fiber vendors are investing in pre-terminated solutions to deliver 1 to 4 fiber, LC or SC cable assemblies, on reel lengths up to 150m. This removes the need for splicing within the apartment and vastly decreases the installation time.
Reduced Cost, Faster MDU FTTH Installations
By using pushable fiber and removing the need for splicing, the FTTH installation cost can be reduced by up to 75%, yet carriers can expect to see at least a 50% decrease in installation time, making the FTTH business case viable for MDU scenarios.
With demand for bandwidth-hungry services increasing rapidly, carriers need to be able to deploy FTTH to large complexes. However the high cost of existing implementation methods is holding back installations.
Carriers therefore need to look at how they can reduce deployment time and cost if they are to drive revenues and expand their customer base. Pushable fiber and a tool-box based approach offers a proven method of bringing down expenditure and speeding up return on investment when it comes to MDU deployments.