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PPC blog

Pioneering the 4th Utility – Fiber to the Home

Posted by Dave Daly

In this post, we explore how you can future proof and differentiate a property through delivering a fiber solution, while also increasing customer satisfaction.

The Challenge of Delivering Fiber to Multiple Dwelling Units

Over half of the world's population lives in units of 100+. In cities this figure can be even higher. This concentration and variety creates a challenge for operators looking to install fiber to the home (FTTH) connections. Essentially, multiple dwelling units (MDUs) are like snowflakes - no two are the same, meaning that each one has to be handled as a separate, complex civil engineering project.

Adding to this complexity, the vast majority of these buildings were constructed before fiber networks were even thought of, meaning they aren't designed to accommodate standard fiber connections. 83% of US MDUs were built before 2000, and over half (52%) before 1980. So there is often no obvious way to route fiber to individual apartments.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Pushable Fiber, MDU

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Lean Enterprise: Are You LEANing the Right Way?

Posted by Dave Daly

We've written a lot lately about connectors, fibers, installations, and technical problems in the field. We think we know what we're talking about there – especially when we talk about creating value for you and for your customers. What we haven't talked so much about is how WE create value when making PPC products. Our practices and our thinking are always aligned around one thing - continuously seeking to maximize value for our customers.

To tell you a little about how we go about it, we're going to switch gears here and talk about Lean Enterprise. Many of you are familiar with the concept, but we want to share with you what it means for us and why it makes us competitive.

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Simplicity of Installation is the Key to Product Selection for FTTH

Posted by Dave Daly

If you are trying to decide on a product to include in your network design or installation and you have a choice between several products that meet your technical specifications  is price the only factor that will help you to make your decision?

While it can be tempting to prioritize price, it's also important to think ahead and look to your business' future. Therefore, an important factor to consider during your product selection for FTTH is the simplicity of your installation.

Simplicity

When it comes to fiber installation, it is commonly understood that you need specialized expertise (installing, splicing), and specialized equipment (splicers, blowers, trenching, etc.). The cost of these things is well known and considered to be part of doing business, and is often the decisive factor in how or if an FTTH installation goes forward.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Pushable Fiber

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Bonding and Grounding for CATV – What's the Difference?

Posted by Dave Daly

Bonding is the electro-mechanical joining of two or more conductors, to form a conductive path that ensures electrical continuity. Grounding is connecting a circuit to the earth or to another conductor that is itself connected to earth. 

Broadband cable systems are usually connected to ground to limit the voltage potential between the cable sheath in the house and the other grounded items in the house, including water pipes, appliances and anything else connected to the utility.

A cable not properly grounded can have a high electric potential when compared to the utility ground in a house. Grounding the cable system to the same ground used by the utility minimizes voltage that could exist between them. 

Topics: Design and Install, Broadband

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Installing In-Building Fiber Broadband: First Stage and Connectors

Posted by Dave Daly

These days, operators are faced with an increasing requirement to deploy in-building fiber broadband networks. The rising demand from consumers for superfast broadband services, coupled with the growing urbanization of the marketplace, means that many operators need to focus on installation efficiencies and effectiveness.

Bringing fiber into the building

The first installation step is to get fiber cable into a multi-dwelling premise. It has to be routed from the point of presence (the outside distribution box in the example diagram below) into the building through the wall and plugged into a further distribution box or distribution frame in the basement or a comms room.

Topics: Design and Install, MDU, Broadband

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Overcoming Hidden Costs in the Broadband Network's Last 200 Feet

Posted by Rick Haube

Many people involved in broadband network deployments appreciate that there could be "hidden" costs down the line because less expensive products have been chosen upfront, for use in the critical transmission path close to the subscribers. The real issue is how to balance slightly higher capital costs for quality components and training, against true savings in operational costs. 

Substandard components are apt to need replacement sooner than those of higher quality - not to mention the costs resulting from the poorer performance profiles of low-quality products.

But what of the hidden costs associated with a poorly or improperly trained workforce? These costs appear in the form of more service calls and repeat service calls.

Topics: Design and Install, Costs/ROI, Broadband

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Tools To Get the Best Broadband Network Service Levels in the Home

Posted by Dave Daly

With increased bandwidth beyond 1 GHz, maintaining the correct carrier levels at a subscriber location is becoming more difficult. The challenge is not always widespread and may be limited to certain areas within the physical network, where limits to the system design have been reached. The addition of DOCSIS 3.1 and MoCA technologies has raised the threshold required for in-home equipment performance and also, therefore, for broadband and CATV signal quality.

All-digital broadband networks are also driving the need for correct signal levels; the tolerance for noise and distortion in these networks is much tighter. Older analog systems had a wider margin of error. Adding to this problem is the increased number of TVs and other devices used. Finally, most techs now have to ensure that each customer's home meets a certain level of performance and must pass a strict performance check before they can leave.

To measure up to these higher expectations, you will want these simple products for making delicate and critical adjustments to signals at the home: attenuators, cable simulators, equalizers, and high pass filters, to name a few.

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How to understand price and value in broadband networks

Posted by Rick Haube

In managing the infrastructure of broadband networks, an often underacknowledged element is the coaxial cabling and connectors required to deliver the very services your customers pay for.

Research shows that possibly the most significant issue for service providers is service calls in "the last mile" (or "the last drop") - the connection from the end of the distribution network up to and including the customer premise equipment.

The research indicates that the leading cause of service calls, as much as 40 percent, is due not only to improper installation of coaxial cable and connectors, or simply loose connectors, but also that the connectors being employed are of sub-standard quality within the environment, affecting electrical and mechanical performance. This has historically been such a chronic issue that some operators have come to accept it as a cost of doing business.

Topics: Costs/ROI, Broadband

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How to Prepare the Drop for DOCSIS 3.1

Posted by Dave Daly

Delivering DOCSIS services, whether it is 64 QAM upstream (3.0) or orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) 1024 (3.1), is often possible with minimal investment and network changes. However, to maximize delivery quality with the highest data speeds requires an in-home network resilient against interference and noise contributors. Where is your performance for the next generation of services? 

There are several obstacles to delivering DOCSIS technologies, including the common effects of loose connectors, signal level discrepancies and ingress/ egress. In addition, the peripheral wireless technology, long term evolution (LTE), is present in homes within the same spectrum (regionally specific) as broadband cable systems.

The question that cannot be avoided today is: "How do we consistently reach the DOCSIS 3.1 performance required while meeting the growing capacity demands?"

Topics: Design and Install

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Broadband Subscribers' Self-Installations: Getting it Right First Time

Posted by Dave Daly

A growing number of broadband subscribers are being given the option of installing or reinstalling customer-premises equipment (CPEs) themselves, with the help of self-install kits (SIKs). For the subscriber, this can lead to flexibility, autonomy, and independence when setting up their information and entertainment environments. Sometimes, however, it can lead to problems - and expensive service calls. 

Compared to the first generation of SIKs some twenty years ago, today's options are much improved and standardized. The original SIKs often contained a bewildering array of cables, connectors, and passives, including composite video cables, component video cables, HDMI cable, coax cable, audio, category cable, RF splitters and others. 

The matrix of possibilities was endless and confusing but with the standardization of connection devices for CPEs, the list is now more specific and sophisticated, including usually only coax cable, HDMI and category cable, depending on the services purchased. 

So, how do you make sure self-installations are done properly?

Topics: Design and Install, Broadband

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