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PPC blog

The use of shared infrastructure to deploy fiber networks

Posted by Dave Stockton


Telecoms planners and installers know that new fiber network build costs are dominated by civils works (the installation of basic infrastructure into or above the ground).

The proportion of the build cost varies enormously, depending on circumstances such as the population density, projected uptake, urban or rural environment, and other local factors. Additionally, new in-ground techniques (slot cutting, directional drilling, and mole ploughing) can dramatically cut these costs.

However, where possible, planners aiming to reduce costs will try and remove the need for new civils builds altogether. One way to achieve this is to move into the world of shared infrastructure, sometimes known as "parasitic" technology.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Industrial premises

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The Fiber Awakens: comparing Star Wars and fiber communications

Posted by Dan Jenkins


A long time ago, in a network far, far away an epic battle took place between a powerful Empire and a band of freedom-loving rebels... 

This week’s launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, got me thinking about the similarities between George Lucas’ films and the world of high-speed fiber communications.

Here are six areas that sprang to mind:

1. The changing fortunes of war/implementations

After early success destroying the Death Star, the rebels are pushed back, with their base on Hoth destroyed and their forces scattered across the universe. Yet, they regroup and take on the new Death Star, ultimately defeating the Emperor and Darth Vader.

These changing fortunes are pretty similar to Fiber to the Home (FTTH) networking. It started with lots of promise and high-profile deployments. But at the beginning of the new Millennium progress slowed, as the copper Empire struck back, only to accelerate again over the last couple of years as the technology went mainstream. Could the defeat of the Empire be in sight?

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Market trends

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Spain smashes UK in fiber rollouts

Posted by Maxine Frith

Spanish eyes are currently smiling on record growth in the fiber to the home (FTTH) market, as operators compete to roll out super-fast broadband across a country that has previously been slow to embrace new technology.

A report last week by Spain’s markets and competition watchdog, the CNMC, found that the number of FTTH lines has increased by more than 160 per cent in the last year, with no signs of any slowdown in the race to speed up internet access.

The CNMC figures revealed that in September there were 2.6 million Spanish FTTH connections, compared with 740,000 in 2014 and just 288,000 two years ago. Operators are adding 5,000 new lines a day, which totals 154,000 new connections a month. This means there are now 5.58 FTTH lines for every 100 inhabitants in the country, offering speeds that range from 30 to 300 Mbps.

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Fiber to the home, Market trends

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The benefits of plug and play for last drop fiber deployments

Posted by Joe Byrne


Fiber to the home (FTTH) deployments
are set to ramp up significantly over the next two years. Especially in the US, we are now moving from the early adoption phase into the early majority phase of this market.

This means operators face two competing pressures. They need to connect up new subscribers cost-effectively but also need to move fast if they are to grow their business by being the first to offer FTTH in a neighborhood. First-mover advantage is the best way to stop your competitors from muscling in on your market penetration.

This puts the spotlight on the last drop connection - often the most complex and time-consuming part of the network rollout and, consequently, the most expensive on a per-foot basis. What makes it expensive? The vast majority (up to 70 per cent) of the cost of these connections is labor. Therefore, anything that reduces labor time and expense will help meet the cost and speed pressures described above.

However, how can operators reduce these labor costs and increase deployment speeds, without impacting quality or customer service?

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Costs/ROI

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Demystifying singlemode fiber types

Posted by Shaun Trezise


To the layperson, all fiber cables can seem the same, with the only potential difference being in their dimensions. But look closer and there is a myriad of variations between them - and choosing the right one for your project can be vital in terms of performance, cost, reliability and safety.

Previously, we’ve discussed the bodies that set standards for fiber types and how you can ensure you pick the right cable to meet safety requirements, outlined by the National Electrical Code, and fire regulations

In this post, I’d like to explain a bit more about the differences between the specifications of the G.65x series of singlemode optical fiber families. These are set by the ITU-T and have equivalent specifications, created by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Rather than refer to both ITU-T and IEC terminology, I’ll stick to the simpler ITU-T G.65x naming convention - you can see how the specifications match up in the table at the end of this handy guide from the FIA.

There are 19 singlemode variants in the G.65x series, but I’ll group them together where possible. I won’t cover the G.651 multimode fiber standards to avoid any confusion.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Data/Statistics, Regulatory/Policy

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How fiber and wireless networks are converging

Posted by Dave Stockton


At first sight, a mobile network and a modern, optical fiber-rich, fixed line network have little in common. They might be seen as competitors. After all, we hear regular stories of consumers "cutting the cord" and meeting all their voice and basic data needs with their smartphones.

In fact, the opposite is true - the growth in data volumes that need to be transmitted quickly around the "mobile" core network cannot generally be met through mobile technologies.

Essentially, this means that the core of a mobile network is made up of fixed line, usually fiber, connections.

The anatomy of a wireless network

Before we look at how fiber and wireless networks complement each other, it is worth taking a step back to look at wireless technology overall. Mobile phones transmit and receive signals in the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, specifically in the region 872 to 960, 1710 to 1875 and 1920 to 2170 MHz in the UK. Just below that frequency range TV broadcasts are carried and at higher microwave frequencies radar, satellite communication, and specialized applications operate.

This means there is limited capacity for onwards transmission of mobile telephony or data over the electromagnetic spectrum, even if it were to be a technically efficient medium.

Topics: Fiber to the premises, Design and Install, Market trends, Industrial premises

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8 decisions operators need to make for FTTH deployment success

Posted by Simon Roberts


When rolling out a new fiber to the home (FTTH) network operators have to take into account multiple factors, including potential demand, deployment difficulty and cost.

However, when they have reached the point of greenlighting the project and begin to plan their FTTH network, there are further decisions to make. These choices can be the difference between a successful or failed project.

Based on my experience working with operators across the world, but particularly in Africa, I'd highlight eight decisions that you should pay particular attention to.

1. Deployment model

Do you take the route of outsourcing FTTH deployment to a third party or do you manage the project yourself? Ultimately, this comes down to two factors - do you have the right combination of skills in-house and how much control do you want over the process?

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Costs/ROI

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The changing needs of FTTH deployment

Posted by Tom Carpenter

PPC has been producing and selling Miniflex cable and pre-terminated QuikPush fiber to the home (FTTH) drop cable for the last 10 years.

Our vision has always been to remove the inefficiencies of blowing and splicing, to speed up the last drop in FTTH deployments that are carried out by non-fiber specialist installers.

Historically, our focus was on providing our customers with overall cost savings by reducing installation labor time.

However, over the last 36 months we have seen a major change in focus throughout the FTTH global market. We are finding that, while labor time is still important, there is a greater market drive towards enabling non-fiber skilled labor to install the last FTTH drop.  

This trend isn’t just happening in emerging markets where labor is relatively cheap, but not necessarily "fiber skilled", but also across the United States and within Europe.

I thought it would be worthwhile to share my thoughts on why I think we have seen this change in market behavior, and how it marks a major step forward in the importance of FTTH as a technology.

Topics: Fiber to the home

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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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The importance of cleanliness to successful fiber installations

Posted by Shaun Trezise


Deploying fiber in the field is often a dirty job. Installing in new buildings means working on a construction site, with all the mud, dust, and rainwater that this entails. Digging trenches for fiber ducts adds to the mess, and a sudden storm can turn the whole site into a quagmire

It isn’t necessarily much cleaner indoors, with deployments in existing buildings subject to dust and debris from the installation methods needed to create space for fiber, such as drilling into ceilings and walls.

There are three key reasons that all this dirt and contamination is an issue during fiber installations:

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Costs/ROI, Industrial premises

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