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PPC blog

The importance of testing in fiber network deployments

Posted by Rich Contreras


Connecting a building to a fiber or coax network can be extremely complex. When planning the deployment, you need to take into account the environmental and topographical conditions, select the best installation methodology, and choose the right equipment for the job.

Then you have to implement the plan, essentially carrying out a civil engineering project to ensure the cable successfully reaches its destination. This can involve re-using existing ducts or creating completely new paths into, and then around, buildings.

However, this is not the end of the job, and perhaps the most vital part is yet to come – testing. This not only enables you to check that the connection works correctly, but, most importantly, that it is reliable, meets relevant industry standards, and is acceptable to the network owner. This should be required on all installs, even if the network owner hasn’t mandated it.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home

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VECTOR – the end to field-fit connector issues?

Posted by Shaun Trezise


Fitting connectors to fiber optic cables in the field is a complex and highly specialized task. It is easy for dust and dirt to contaminate connectors, blocking the optical signal and leading to light loss, reducing power and efficiency. It is also a delicate process requiring dexterity and high attention to detail. In some instances, the cable has to be scrapped, and the process started again if the fiber performance is not satisfactory.

Consequently, field splicing connectors has become a highly specialized art, requiring highly skilled staff armed with expensive fiber splicing equipment. As fiber network rollouts accelerate, this approach is simply no longer adequate to meet operator needs for speed, efficiency, and cost-effective deployments.

Finding skilled staff can be expensive, particularly in developing countries or for new market entrants - yet there is a need to minimize installation time and operating expenses around deployments.

Topics: Design and Install, Fiber to the home, Fiber innovations

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Combining cable in duct and aerial for fiber deployments

Posted by Simon Roberts

Operators normally aim to standardize on a single fiber deployment methodology to simplify installations and reduce time to market. However, sometimes it isn’t possible to take this approach as terrain and other factors are too varied for a one-size-fits-all solution.

When extending its Pan-African fiber network to Rwanda, this is exactly the issue that Liquid Telecom faced. Liquid is building Africa’s largest single fiber network, currently stretching over 18,000km across Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho and into South Africa. Customers benefit from fiber to the home (FTTH) speeds in excess of 100Mbps.

Diverse natural surroundings mean that the challenges of installing FTTH in the suburbs of capital Kigali and the surrounding countryside require very different solutions. To meet these needs, Liquid Telecom has pioneered a toolbox approach to deployment, combining cable in duct FTTH with a tree and branch aerial solution. This provides the ability to select the best network design on a case-by-case basis, while ensuring the integration of these designs into the overall network.

Spurring from its Pan-African backbone, Liquid aimed to deliver up to 100Mbps connection speeds to its Rwandan customers. As with any FTTH network, the key to success is being first to market, meaning that speed was of the essence, without any sacrifice on quality and performance. Furthermore, Liquid Telecom had to implement its fiber network via installers that were used to handling copper.

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

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Fiber to the home and increased customer satisfaction

Posted by Maxine Frith

Let’s face it - the telecoms industry doesn’t have the best of reputations when it comes to customer satisfaction.

But something seems to be changing. Two years ago my husband and I came back to our home in Cambridge from two weeks in France to find our (and our neighbors') internet connection had been severed. However, what would normally be classed as a disaster has actually been a blessing in disguise, as our old lines were replaced by fiber to the home (FTTH) connections. Personally, as a freelance journalist I rely heavily on the internet, as does my husband and neighbors – not to mention the meltdowns that happen amongst our teenage children if they can’t get online.

But in the last 12 months, there have been no fevered meetings outside our front doors, no anguished dash to a cafe with laptop underarm. As a lay consumer, things have only improved. And surveys across Europe are showing this is not an isolated experience.

Recent research shows that FTTH customers are more than twice as happy with their service as DSL consumers. Not only that – FTTH subscribers are more likely to be thinking of upgrading in the next 12 months and to consider that their connectivity will increase the value of their home.

So FTTH customers like – even love - what they have – and are prepared to pay more for it. The Holy Grail of telecoms satisfaction may have been discovered.

Topics: Fiber to the home, Data/Statistics, Market trends

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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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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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