PPC blog

OLM technology vs manual fiber monitoring: what's the difference?

Posted by John Homsey

Network reliability is essential - especially for business customers and high-usage residential subscribers.

Faults, loose connections or deterioration are sometimes unavoidable. But when they do occur, it's the speed with which your technicians are able to respond that can make all the difference.

But what if it was possible to identify the failure, and rectify it, before the first trouble call even arrived?

Many existing fiber monitoring systems rely on a completely manual procedure in which groups of technicians scan and calculate exact fault locations. Others use a combination of manual intervention and optical time domain reflectometry technology (OTDR). The problem with these approaches is they can be inefficient, unpredictable and costly.

A key issue with an OTDR monitoring system, for example, is it can only ever examine one fiber at a time. With each fiber taking up to a minute per scan, it can make for an extremely time-consuming process. A cable fault will only be detected once it has reached its 'turn' in the cycle test.

It can take hours from when an alarm or trouble call is first received, for maintenance to be informed, a technician to arrive on site and the exact location of the fault to be identified.

So what's the alternative?

Continuous, real-time monitoring

Optical Line Management (OLM) is a new technology that continuously monitors assigned fibers in real time by incorporating testing, analysis, alarms, GIS (Geographical Information System) fault location, information management and monitoring reports into a single, centralized and automated system that's on the job 24/7.

The OLM platform enables the exact location of the fault to be relayed to the technician within a couple of minutes - vastly optimizing field resources and making for a quicker repair.

When communication quality is poor, or equipment breaks down, Optical Line Protection (OLP), offers an additional level or protection, using advanced, dynamic synchronous optical switching technology to resume normal operation within milliseconds.

Why opt for an OLM platform?

There are many reasons why an operator might choose an OLM platform over their existing manual or OTDR monitoring system:

  • Scalability - the OLM platform can be scaled to monitor up to 10,000 fibers simultaneously
  • Accuracy - the use of GIS fault location means the positional accuracy is within 5 meters
  • Integration - the system combines multiple functions including an Optical Switch Module (OSW), Optical Source Card (OS), inspection terminal and mobile app
  • Versatility - the OLM provides a wide variety of solutions for different scenarios
  • Compatibility - the OLM, Optical Line Protection (OLP), resource management system, and inspection system all operate seamlessly within the same platform
  • Intelligent system analysis - the rich network management system (NMS) functionality provides detailed maintenance reports which enable reliable scientific decisions
  • Fiber resource management - the platform provides the means to continuously monitor and safeguard the fiber links of valuable business customers and high-bandwidth residential subscribers
  • ROI - the OLM can 'pay for itself' by providing quicker outage resolutions to minimize downtime and make best use of maintenance resources
  • Differentiation - operators can offer active monitoring as a tiered service level 

As bandwidth increases - and as optical networks are increasingly being called upon to transport critical customer applications - the need for automated, real-time monitoring and reporting of fiber links has never been more crucial.

Optical cables and connections can deteriorate over time and faults  can occur - risking service disruption, unplanned downtime and onerous maintenance costs.

With the OLM platform acting as a 24/7 virtual assistant, operators can provide an added level of protection when it's needed most - and ensure that faults are instantly identified and quickly resolved.


Topics: Fiber innovations, OLM

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