Every fiber deployment is unique, especially when you’re delivering fiber to a multi-dwelling or multi-tenant unit (MDU or MTU). As you’re working with suppliers to purchase products for your MDU or MTU fiber installation, it’s important to consider solutions that can be customized based on your needs.
In our latest blog, we gave you an eight-step guide with essential questions to ask yourself before finalizing a bill of materials for bringing fiber from the outdoor hub to each floor of a building. And in this Part Two blog, we’re discussing the best solutions for delivering fiber horizontally from an enclosure in a utility closet to each individual subscriber unit.
If you missed Part One of this series, you can check it out here:
What Type of Construction Are You Working With?
The method of delivering fiber horizontally throughout an MDU or MTU will depend on the type of construction you’re working with. Are you dealing with pre-existing buildings (brownfield) or new construction (greenfield)?
If the answer is new construction, your fiber installation got a whole lot easier. In a greenfield building, you should have open access to the walls to run any size microduct you need without obstructions to consider. The solutions for your fiber deployment are much less limiting than in a brownfield building.
If you’re dealing with a pre-existing building, you may come across hurdles such as limited space in the walls or ceilings for running microduct, obstructions while routing microduct, or inability to gain access to wall and ceiling space. You may be asking yourself, then how am I supposed to route the fiber horizontally?
To make your choice easier, we’re sharing three solutions for fiber delivery and weighing the pros and cons for each in greenfield and brownfield construction types.
PPC QuikPass™ for Quickest Installs
The PPC QuikPass™ solution is a great option for delivering fiber to each building unit when you can’t gain access to wall or ceiling space for routing fiber. The QuikPass solution utilizes a range of fiber distribution cables and cable assemblies that you route along the outside of the wall in a hallway. The fiber is then transferred to the individual customer drop at a fiber entry box outside each unit’s door. This solution can either use pre-terminated cable assemblies or can be spliced at each unit.
The QuikPass products are designed to be an aesthetically pleasing and are a simple solution for when the fiber must be routed in the hallway of an MDU. Utilizing QuikPass for a hallway installation creates an opportunity for delivering fiber to each unit without having to disrupt the existing construction of an MDU. And since all the components of this solution are easily accessible to installers, there will be limited disruption to tenants during the initial install or during later maintenance.
Pre-Terminated Cable Assemblies for Flexible Installs
No matter the type of construction, a pre-terminated fiber cabling solution is another recommended option for fiber delivery in an MDU. QuikPush® cable assemblies offer flexibility and easy installation thanks to the cable’s grooving technology and factory-connectorized ends.
Cable assemblies can be installed in both pre-existing and new construction, but the method for the installation will differ depending on your access to in-wall pathways. If you are deploying fiber in a new construction, our main recommendation is installing QuikPush cable assemblies with indoor microduct into the open wall space. In this case, you will have the ability to run as many assemblies as you need from the utility closet to the individual units without obstructions. It’s simple and straightforward, and the easiest method of all.
With older construction, however, you will likely run into complications with in-wall deployment, so pathways should be prepped and cleared before you’re able to route a pre-terminated solution. First, start by selecting a microduct product, and ensure it’s rigid, yet flexible enough to route corners without kinking.
Next, decide how long your fiber run will be. Pre-terminated cable can only be purchased in certain lengths, so you’ll need to know the lengths of your cable assemblies, keeping in mind that you may need multiple lengths depending how far they’re going on each floor. Since the length of the cable assembly will likely exceed the needed fiber run, you will also need to account for slack storage at either the utility closet or at the end point. Keep reading for wall plate solutions with slack storage later in this blog.
If in-wall delivery isn’t an option, you can route pre-terminated cable in hallways and deliver to the individual units. See the above section about PPC QuikPass™ that does exactly this.
Bulk Fiber and Splicing for Cleanest Installs
There are positives and negatives when it comes to deploying bulk fiber throughout a building.
On one hand, if you’re limited in wall space, you only need to deploy one fiber from the utility closet, and splice and split it when you get to each unit. This means you can select the smallest diameter microduct that allows for just one fiber cable, which will be easier to route in a pre-existing building. You also don’t need to account for slack storage since the cable will be spliced the exact length you need. This makes for the cleanest fiber install.
Purchasing a reel of bulk Miniflex® fiber cable is cheaper at the forefront compared to pre-terminated solutions, however the costliest aspect is the installation. The downfall to using bulk fiber is the need for splicing the cable on-site in multiple locations. While it seems to be the most versatile solution, hiring a fiber splicing expert is expensive and time-consuming.
Slack Storage and Adapter Positions at the Wall Plate
Once the fiber is delivered to the individual room, the last piece of the install is the wall plate. This is the fiber connection point inside each unit that bridges the fiber run to the customer premises equipment. When you’re choosing a wall plate type, consider whether you need slack storage – and how much slack storage – as well as accessibility to the connections – internal or external access.
If you are splicing fiber, you’ll need a wall plate with a splice base and no slack storage. If you’re using pre-terminated cable, ensure you order wall plates with the correct adapters (SC vs LC and UPC vs APC) installed, and up to 5 feet of slack storage.
You’ll also have the option of adapter position in the wall plate. You can choose to have internal connections, which are more protected, or external connections, which are easier to access. While external connections are easier to access by installers, they’re also open for tenants and guests to access as well. In most cases, an internal adapter position is recommended.
Deploying a fiber network can be quick and easy if the architecture is fully planned and the proper products are ordered. If you’re the planner or purchaser, it’s important to understand the type of building you’re working with and the resources available at the time of installation prior to placing the order. And once you answer those essential questions, look for a fiber manufacturer that can provide you with the entire solution to ensure your FTTx network runs efficiently and smoothly.