Fiber to the Home (FTTH) is becoming increasingly more common as bandwidth usage is exploding. This tremendous growth is driven in part by the rapid increase in Internet-connected devices and the use of data-heavy applications such as video on demand. Service providers are working to meet this need for greater bandwidth by expanding the deployment of fiber optic cables to the premises and then into the home.
Service providers building these networks all face a common challenge: the expense of the last mile in the optical network. It is critical for service providers, utilities and municipalities to have an optimized set of deployment options that help to reduce both capital and operational expenses.
The solutions presented in this article meet these challenges with several fiber deployment options from the drop point to and into the home.
OFS FTTx Solutions for the Home can help residents take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is beginning to redefine how we work and live. These solutions focus on simplicity, cost-effectiveness and speed of installation, along with the pre- and post-installation customer experience, time to revenue generation and reliable subscriber connections that help to improve profitability for the service provider.
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PRE-TERMINATED vs. FIELD-TERMINATED DROPS
Pre-terminated drop solutions are increasingly used to install fiber to homes to save time and money in higher labor cost regions. Pre-terminated drop solutions consist of drop cables that are terminated and tested in the factory, and easily plugged into the drop terminal and home terminal in the field. Pre-terminated solutions offer lower costs and faster deployment and require less installation skill.
For low labor cost markets, field terminated solutions may be preferred. Field terminated solutions use drop cables which are terminated using fusion splicing or mechanical connectors in the field during installation. They offer easier inventory management, lower material costs and easier slack management, but take longer to install and require more highly skilled labor, along with expensive field termination tools and splicing machines, when compared to pre-terminated solutions.
A third approach, with one end of the drop cable pre-terminated, and the other end field terminated, can solve the slack issue and allow an easy plug-in to the drop terminal and field termination at the home.
OFS offers all three of these drop solution options to fit the unique needs of each service provider. OFS pre-terminated solutions are available with EZ- Bend® cables that can solve the slack management challenge. EZ-Bend fiber optic cables enable the slack to be tied into a very compact bundle.
Providers typically use a combination of aerial and underground solutions to connect the last mile in a network to individual homes. A variety of factors including climate and existing infrastructure can influence solution selection.
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CONNECTING OPTICAL FIBER TO THE HOME
OFS offers a complete portfolio of aerial and underground solutions including terminals, integrated splitters and drop cables to connect to the demarcation point of individual homes. From that location, a number of solutions can be leveraged to take optical fiber into the home.
Aerial deployment is typically lower in cost and preferred where poles are in place near homes. In this scenario, a SlimBox® Drop Terminal is installed on a pole, with or without splitters, and then connected by a drop cable to as many as 16 homes. Below grade drop deployment is preferred if there is an existing duct placed from the terminal location to the home, or if below grade cabling is required by local regulations.
First, an installer inserts a feeder or distribution cable into the terminal. The installer then extracts the number of fibers required and fusion splices them to a pre-terminated splitter or drop fiber. Aerial or underground drop cables are then deployed from the terminal to individual residences.
In the case of aerial cables, a drop cable is placed between the pole and a point near a home’s roof. The cable can be connected to a demarcation box and installed into the home through the attic or onto the side of the house at a demarcation box near the ground. To help avoid unsightly aerial cables, an aerial terminal can be connected to an underground drop cable. For aerial deployments, OFS offers the one to 24-fiber Mini LT Flat Drop Cable and the single-fiber Mini TB Flat Drop cable which contains 3 mm cordage that can be routed directly to an Optical Network Terminal (ONT).
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Underground drop cable options include the single-fiber EZ-Bend® 3.0 mm and 4.8 mm Ruggedized Cables and EZ-Bend Toneable Cables. The toneable cables enable easy above ground locating of buried cables to help avoid cable cuts when other underground systems are installed. These drop cables are installed from the aerial terminal down the pole to the ground, and are then buried to minimize disruption to landscaping, or pulled into existing duct. The cable is then connected into a demarcation box installed at the side of the house, ideally in a location close to the ONT on the inside.
EZ-Bend cables are preferred since their 2.5 mm bend radius allows the cables to be coiled, bent and tied without creating signal degradation. These cables can also be buried or stapled/clipped and bent around the outer perimeter walls of a home to reach an entry point closer to the preferred ONT location.
New home construction offers a win-win situation for construction companies and service providers. With the ability to “build in” optical fiber connectivity, new homes are futureproofed from the beginning, real estate values increase, and new home owners can become immediate subscribers without the expense of additional installation time. .
Subscribers can be connected faster using preterminated cables installed to and into homes during construction. OFS offers EZ-Bend 3.0 mm and 4.8 mm cables that can be installed independently or in ducts using typical home wiring techniques, such as stapling or zip-tying of the cables, to a location or media panel where the ONT would be later placed. The home owner can later perform a “self install” by receiving an ONT from the service provider, and simply plugging in an EZ-Bend cable assembly and a power adapter to the ONT. OFS also provides a SlimBox Wall Plate that discretely blends into a home’s décor and facilitates ONT connections in the same way as a power outlet.
Existing Homes can pose a challenge to network installers, given the wide variety of possible building architectures. In addition, home designs and construction materials can vary greatly from country to country and even within countries. OFS solutions are purposefully designed and optimized to suit a variety of homes globally and offer maximum flexibility to on-site installers.
Depending on the target market, a provider can choose the terminals and drop cables for an aerial, underground or hybrid solution. The solutions described are the most popular options and feature a variety of products as building block components. This modular product design approach allows service providers to also create custom solutions to meet the specific needs of their target markets.
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Seismologists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) are using fiber optic network cable to monitor and record aftershocks from the July 4 and 5 Ridgecrest, CA, earthquakes. By using optical fiber, the scientists can gather, track, and analyze data in much greater depth from the thousands of daily aftershocks.
To do this, the scientists send a beam of light down optical fiber in an unused or “dark” fiber optic cable. When the light reaches tiny blemishes in the optical fiber, a small portion of the light is reflected back and recorded. In this way, each fiber imperfection acts as a trackable location along the buried fiber optic cable. When seismic waves move through the ground, the cable expands and contracts slightly. This change affects the travel time of light to and from the locations. By monitoring these changes, seismologists can monitor the motion of seismic waves.
According to Caltech, the miniscule fiber imperfections occur often enough so that every few meters of optical fiber act as an individual seismometer. In fact, monitoring 50 kilometers of fiber optic cable in three different locations is roughly equal to deploying more than 6,000 seismometers in the area.
Caltech launched the project within days of the two large earthquakes and began contacting groups in a search for unused fiber optic cable that would be close enough and long enough to be useful. The scientists finally contacted the California Broadband Cooperative’s Digital 395 project. The goal of the Digital 395 project is to build a new 583-mile fiber optic network that will run north to south, along the eastern Sierra Nevada, passing near Ridgecrest. Digital 395 offered three segments of its fiber cable to which Caltech connected sensing instruments.
Information gathered from the Ridgecrest fiber network will help seismologists learn more about the way that earthquakes move through the earth, and specifically how seismic waves move through the area around Ridgecrest.
Single Mode vs Multimode Fibers
Learn the differences and when to use single mode or multimode fibers.
Cloud computing and web services continue to drive increased bandwidth demand, pushing data communications rates from 1 and 10G to 40 and 100G and beyond in enterprise and data center networks.
These higher speeds might lead system designers to believe that single-mode optical fiber enjoys an increasing advantage over multimode optical fiber in premises applications. However, higher Ethernet speeds do not automatically mean that single-mode optical fiber is the right choice.
Although single-mode optical fiber holds advantages in terms of bandwidth and reach for longer distances, multimode optical fiber easily supports most distances required for enterprise and data center networks, at a cost significantly less than single-mode.
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Total Cost Comparison of Single Mode vs Multimode Fibers
Multimode optical fiber continues to be the more cost-effective choice over single-mode optical fiber for shorter-reach applications. While the actual cost of multimode cable is greater than that of single-mode fiber optic cable, it is the optics that dominate the total cost of a network system, dwarfing variation in cable costs.
On average, single-mode transceivers continue to cost from 1.5 to 4 – 5 times more than multimode transceivers, depending on the data rate. As faster optoelectronic technology matures and volumes increase, prices come down for both, and the cost gap between multimode and single-mode decreases. However, single-mode optics have always been more expensive than their equivalent multimode counterparts. This fact is supported by the difference in multimode vs. single-mode 10G optics, a common Ethernet speed used today.
Multimode transceivers also consume less power than single-mode transceivers, an important consideration especially when assessing the cost of powering and cooling a data center. In a large data center with thousands of links, a multimode solution can provide substantial cost savings, from both a transceiver and power/cooling perspective.
Finally, the fact that multimode optical fiber is easier to install and terminate in the field is an important consideration for enterprise environments, with their frequent moves, adds and changes.
The Difference Between Multimode and Single-Mode Fibers
The way in which these two fiber types transmit light eventually led to their separate names. Generally designed for systems of moderate to long distance (e.g., metro, access and long-haul networks), single-mode optical fibers have a small core size (< 10 µm) that permits only one mode or ray of light to be transmitted. This tiny core requires precision alignment to inject light from the transceiver into the core, significantly driving up transceiver costs.
In comparison, multimode optical ﬁbers have larger cores that guide many modes simultaneously. The larger core makes it much easier to capture light from a transceiver, allowing source costs to be controlled. Similarly, multimode connectors cost less than single-mode connectors as a result of the more stringent alignment requirements of single-mode optical fiber. Single-mode connections require greater care and skill to terminate, which is why components are often pre-terminated at the factory. On the other hand, multimode connections can be easily performed in the field, offering installation flexibility, cost savings and peace of mind.
For these reasons, multimode optical fiber systems continue to be the most cost-effective fiber choice for enterprise and data center applications up to the 500 – 600 meter range.
Beyond the reach of multimode optical fibers, it becomes necessary to use single-mode optical fiber. However, when assessing single-mode optical fibers, be sure to consider newer options. A bend-insensitive, full-spectrum single-mode optical fiber provides more transceiver options, greater bandwidth and is less sensitive to handling of the cables and patch cords than is conventional single-mode optical fiber.
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Which Multimode Fiber Type and Why?
At one time, the network designer or end user who specified multimode optical ﬁber for short reach systems had to choose from two fiber types defined by their core size, namely, 50 micron (µm) or 62.5 µm. Now, that choice is slightly different: choose from OM3, OM4, or the new OM5 grade of 50 µm multimode optical fibers. Today, 62.5 µm OM1 multimode optical fiber is virtually obsolete and is relegated for use with extensions or repairs of legacy, low bandwidth systems. In fact, 62.5 µm OM1 fiber supports only 33 meters at 10G and is not even recognized as an option for faster speeds.
50 µm multimode optical ﬁbers were ﬁrst deployed in the 1970s for both short and long reach applications. But as data rates increased, 50 µm fiber’s reach became limited with the LED light sources used at the time. To resolve this, 62.5 µm multimode optical fiber was developed and introduced in the 1980s. With its larger core, 62.5 µm optical fiber coupled more signal power than 50 µm optical fiber, allowing for longer reach (2 kms) at 10 Mb/s to support campus applications. That was the only time when 62.5 µm fiber offered an advantage over 50 µm optical fiber.
With the advent of gigabit (1 Gb/s) speeds and the introduction of the 850 nm VCSEL laser light source in the mid-1990s, we saw a shift back to 50 µm optical fiber, with its inherently higher bandwidth. Today, 50 µm laser-optimized multimode (OM3, OM4, and OM5) optical fibers offer significant bandwidth and reach advantages for short reach applications, while preserving the low system cost advantages of multimode optical fiber.
Planning for the Future
Industry standards groups including IEEE (Ethernet), INCITS (Fibre Channel), TIA, ISO/IEC and others continue to include multimode optical fiber as the short reach solution for next generation speeds. This designation reinforces multimode optical fiber’s continued economic advantage for these applications.
IEEE includes multimode optical fiber in its 40G and 100G Ethernet standards as well as its pending 50G, 200G, and 400G standards. In addition, TIA issued a new standard for the next generation of multimode optical fiber called wide band (OM5) multimode optical fiber. This new version of 50 µm optical fiber can transmit multiple wavelengths using Short Wavelength Division Multiplexing (SWDM) technology, while maintaining OM4 backward compatibility. In this way, end users can obtain greater bandwidth and higher speeds from a single fiber by simply adding wavelengths. The OFS version of this fiber is called LaserWave® WideBand Optical Fiber. This new fiber allows for continued economic benefit in deploying short reach optics using multimode optical fiber – as opposed to more expensive single-mode optics.
In general, multimode optical fiber continues to be the most cost-effective choice for enterprise and data center applications up to the 500 – 600 meter range. Beyond that, single-mode optical fiber is necessary.
>> Download the Full Article to Learn More about the Difference between Multimode or Single-Mode Optical Fibers
Already known as the state’s first gigabit city, Wilson, North Carolina, is now also that state’s first city to offer a “Fiber Optics Basics” training course at its local community college. Last month, Wilson Greenlight, the city’s community-owned, fiber-to-the-home provider, partnered with Wilson Community College to launch the pilot 10-week program.
A Long-Held Dream
The fiber optic training course is the answer to a long-held dream for Gene Scott, Wilson Greenlight’s director of outside plant. Frustrated by having highly-skilled jobs to offer that he could not fill, Scott found that standard fiber training courses cost thousands of dollars that few young people could afford.
Experts Share Knowledge/Expertise
Visiting experts from around North Carolina and the U.S. are volunteering to teach their specialty. For example, OFS expert Mark Boxer is teaching three classes covering topics ranging from the history of light wave transmission to the design of various fiber optic networks.
In one of these classes, Boxer featured a very special guest, Dr. Peter Charles Schultz. Dr. Schultz is a co-inventor of fiber optics and the recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation presented by President Bill Clinton (the highest technology award of the U.S. Government). Dr. Schultz also serves as a senior advisor to and board member of OFS. During the class, Dr. Schultz described his experiences in developing fiber optics, something that few people at the time understood or valued. When asked his advice to others who might seek to blaze a new trail in the digital frontier, Schultz answered, “Be brave!”
Training for Today and Tomorrow
Other courses in the program range from how to prepare, splice and connect fiber optic cables to fiber optic safety. Instructors will expose students to various types of fiber networks, the basics on how to design a fiber-to-the-home network, how to maintain outside plant infrastructure and even how to budget and read engineering design prints.
The long-range plan is to offer a two-year partnership between a local high school and the community college. Students would leave high school with a two-year certificate in an advanced degree and qualify for higher-paying jobs after graduation. One added advantage would be to pique students’ interest in tackling a four-year college degree in new fields like fiber network management
Today the United Nations, its partners and women and girls around the world are marking the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Recent studies suggest that 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will have jobs that do not yet exist. While more girls are attending school than ever before, girls are significantly underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects in many settings. They also appear to lose interest in STEM subjects as they reach adolescence. In addition, less than 30 percent of researchers worldwide are women.
As a step forward in reversing these trends, the April 2018 National Math and Science Initiative’s “Yes, She Did” campaign honored female STEM inventors. During the campaign, teachers, students, grandmothers and education enthusiasts voted fiber optic cable as the most impactful woman-influenced innovation.
One of the women highlighted in the campaign is Shirley Jackson, the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the first African-American woman to be awarded the National Medal of Science. She is credited with scientific research that enabled the invention of such things as the portable fax, touch-tone telephone, solar cells and fiber optic cable.
“It’s madness that women aren’t always recognized for their STEM contributions,” the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) wrote in introducing its social media audiences to the women behind eight highly impactful innovations. In addition to fiber optic cable, NMSI highlighted the women behind the circular saw, Laserphaco probe, dishwasher, Kevlar® Fiber, modern home security system, computer programming and NASA’s space bumper.
“Fiber optic cable shrunk the global marketplace and now everything’s connected real-time to be faster, better, stronger,” said NMSI Chief Information Officer Rick Doucette.
On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s change the trends on women in science and technology. Join us in celebrating women and girls who are leading innovation and call for actions to remove all barriers that hold them back.
The growth in Fiber to the Home (FTTH) just keeps exploding. In fact, for the first time ever, optical fiber passed DSL in home usage during 2018. Fiber is now the second most-frequent connection for North American home Internet.
And FTTH is also the second most-often-used, fixed broadband connection medium in North America. A newly-issued report from the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) and RVA, LLC featured these statistics.
Fiber Passes xDSL
As of September 2018, the report found that all-fiber access networks surpassed xDSL connections. Almost 60 million homes were FTTH service capable and 23.8 million homes were already connected. These totals represent an increase of 22% from 2017 in terms of “homes marketed.” According to RVA, “homes marketed” depicts market potential more meaningfully than “homes passed” by fiber.
Unsurprisingly, 40.8 million of these homes are in the United States. Another 5.6 million homes are in Canada, 13.1 million in Mexico and 350,000 in the Caribbean.
In terms of the United States, new homes marketed hit a record high of 5.9 million in 2018. Of the 40.8 million homes marketed, the report calls 39.2 million “unique.” This term refers to homes that do not have more than one all-fiber operator seeking their business. Overall. FTTH connects 18.4 million homes in the U.S. Tier 1 telco operators account for 72.6% of these connections. Tier 2 and 3 operators handle 10.3%, and cable operators account for 5.5% of U.S. FTTH connections.
Canada Picks up the Pace
Canadian operators may be rolling out optical fiber faster than U.S. companies, at least in terms of homes marketed compared to total homes. However, FTTH still has a way to go to threaten hybrid fiber/coax (HFC). HFC still delivers slightly more than 50% of broadband connections in North America and FTTH provides not quite 25%.
Fiber is on Fire
According to Lisa R. Youngers, president and CEO of FBA, “The fiber industry is on fire. Fiber holds the key for next-generation connectivity, from 5G to smart cities to the Internet of Things (IOT). This research and analysis helps keep the industry, consumers and policymakers informed about FBA’s progress toward a better-connected future.”
Today, coherent transport technology enables speeds of 40 and 100 Gb/s over legacy fiber networks. However, emerging fundamental limitations in spectral efficiency and un-regenerated reach will soon begin to strain the economics of the internet. Backbone traffic is currently growing at a 30-50 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), but consumers are reluctant to pay higher fees. This situation means that both cloud providers and traditional network operators must carry significantly greater traffic to maintain the same revenue. This requirement, in turn, means that technology must achieve the increasingly difficult task of driving the marginal cost-per-bit of long haul transport still lower.
Given these growth projections and a slowdown in achievable spectral efficiency, providers have a choice to either install fiber pairs more often or use denser modulation formats. In fact, both will likely be used and current models show that higher optical-to-signal-noise (OSNR) can reduce the cost per bit by avoiding expensive regeneration.
A recent white paper by Robert Lingle, Alan McCurdy and Kasyapa Balemarthy of OFS explores how a new generation of low-loss, large-area fibers can help network operators to better manage these emerging limitations while also enabling even higher data rates up to 400 Gb/s and beyond.
To access this white paper, please go here.
Over the past 30 years, optical fiber and fiber optic cable have become increasingly durable and user friendly. At the same time, the use of fiber optics has exploded with many more workers now handling both fiber and cable.
However, while these individuals may understand the How-Tos of optical fiber, they may lack knowledge of the essential fiber optic Whys. To learn these critical rules, you must become a full-fledged “Fiber Geek.” And, because technology and applications are rapidly evolving, achieving true “fiber geekdom” is an ongoing process.
This first in a series of articles will help readers understand some secondary fiber specifications to begin climbing the “Fiber Geek” ladder. In this article, we focus on the continuing demand for bandwidth and how the need for even greater bandwidth is on the horizon. In addition, we also examine ways that this need can be satisfied. Finally, we consider the importance of industry standards in setting network performance levels..
To access this article and begin the journey toward becoming a “Fiber Geek,” please go here.
Data centers and enterprise networks continue to require ever-increasing speeds. Yesterday’s 10 Gbps networks are rapidly being replaced by 40 and 100 Gbps speeds, and 400 Gbps networks are on the horizon. How can today’s network designers best support this increasing demand for bandwidth?
TIA has standardized a new multimode fiber to support short wavelength division multiplexing (SWDM). Referred to in the industry as “wideband” multimode optical fiber, this new fiber type extends the ability of conventional OM4 fiber to support multiple wavelengths. Wideband optical fiber will maintain the cost advantages of multimode fiber for short-distance applications by supporting duplex fiber links at speeds up to 100 Gbps and 400 Gbps eight-fiber links.
OFS’ LaserWave® FLEX WideBand Multimode Optical Fiber is designed to support today’s high speed 850 nm-based systems and tomorrow’s multi-wavelength systems. Optimized for SWDM, OFS WideBand Optical Fiber is the best choice for short-reach enterprise and data center applications.
For the latest WHITE PAPER on LaserWave FLEX WideBand Optical Fiber, please go here.