With the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) state allocations announced on June 26, states are now proactively creating plans to build high speed broadband networks to the unserved and underserved – all the way down to the last home or business on the farthest dirt road of every community.
In this On Topic, you’ll get a deep look at the critical impact fiber is making in rural communities. You’ll see how providers are able to make such a profound difference in these economies, as well as the technical “how-to” that makes these accomplishments possible.
Hi, I’m Mark Boxer, Technical Manager with OFS, and here’s what’s new in my world.
The first waves of fiber deployments were focused on single family homes and for good reason. There wasn’t as much demand for bandwidth and MDU or multi dwelling units and 15 to 20 years ago we just really didn’t have the same products that are now routinely used in MDUs. You know MDUs 15-20 years ago were some expensive science projects. So much has changed and it really can now make sense to do MDUs first.
So, first, broadband demand rises in single family homes and MDUs, and the commercial and regulatory environments are also changing. And very importantly the industry has responded with new products and installation methods that dramatically simplify the installation process and then to use. So as an industry we’ve learned that fiber installations and MDUs need to be fast, easy, and not visible – to preserve the building decor. The fiber also needs to be able to withstand the many bends of an apartment. InvisiLight Solutions enable these types of installations.
We’ve also discovered that with these tools, fiber installations for MDUs really have now flipped the script so these solutions are fast. They’re easy and inexpensive to install, meaning these installations can also be very profitable for network operators to deploy.
At a time when outside plant cable lead times may be long, indoor fiber products may have shorter lead times, which means that service could be turned up more quickly. We’ve also discovered that with these tools, the products can be installed with the minimal amount of training. A crew can be up and running within minutes to hours. Or, as we’ve heard people say before, on Thursday he’s a taxi driver, on Friday he’s an InvisiLight installer.
It can make sense for a service provider to consider MDUs first. So, let’s take a closer look. The Ultra bend insensitive fiber standard that’s used in these builds is G.657B3 and the OFS brand name for this fiber type is EZ-Bend fiber. You can bunch it up and tie it into knots. You can run into very tight angles and staple it with little added loss.
Many MDUs have lots of bends, and if you use a typical outside plant cable to do what I just did with the knot, then that would turn out the lights. However, we routinely deploy EZ-Bend and InvisiLight in environments with dozens of 90-degree angles, with no issues.
So, I was on a MDU build a couple of weeks ago where we went through forty-five 90-degree angles, two splices, and two connectors. The result was a loss of less than half a DB from the splitter to the ONT, and frankly that’s impressive.
The term InvisiLight is a nod to the light that goes into the fiber and the fact that it’s also almost invisible to the resident. Out of sight, out of mind. These products are deployed in minutes.
Deploying to MDUs can be fast and inexpensive to deploy, inconspicuous with low optical loss, and reasonably available supply chain. When you add these benefits together, it’s worth considering MDUs first. That’s what’s new in my world.
Visit our step-by-step Invisilight MDU/ILU product configurator for starting a Bill of Materials for your building.
This configurator is designed for buildings with riser spaces and indoor hallways. Additional options are available.
Hi, I’m John George, Senior Director of Solutions Engineering and Fusion Splicers at OFS. What’s new in my world is our new MDU!Click® Solution for fiber deployment in buildings.
With the MDU!Click Solution we can defer the cost of a splitter module until we have a higher take rate on each floor. This is for a pay-as-you-grow kind of deployment. It’s used for a second, or third entrant into the building, fiber to the business deployments, or maybe high take rates aren’t expected initially and there’s a desire to defer the cost of the build as much as possible with subscriber growth.
The way the system works is we have a MDU!Click SlimBox® Flex Indoor Module in the MDF the entry point of the building with a one by four or one by eight splitter feeding through the EZ-Bend® 12 or 24 fiber riser cable. You can see this is a very compact cable that can fit in limited spaces. We’re breaking out a single fiber so we can support one subscriber per floor in the initial deployment. Then, we can connect that first subscriber by plugging in one of our EZ-Bend Jumpers – a drop cable assembly that can go many hundreds of feet if needed.
The EZ Bend cable has a 2.5 millimeter bend radius to handle the cornering in the buildings that’s often required. Then, to add more than one subscriber on each floor, we simply put in place our MDU!Click SlimBox Flex Indoor Splitter Module and expand from one to eight ports. We can reconnect our initial subscriber and connect seven more subscribers on that floor, in order to get a higher take rate as we get new subscribers in the building.
Sandy Oregon located about 30 miles from downtown Portland is blessed with beautiful mountain scenery but unfortunately its great location also leads to challenges when it comes to being connected to the outside world. In 2002 city officials had the vision to start their own internet service provider and offer affordable internet service to its residents. The result was SandyNet. From the beginning it was a huge success. People wanted it. They were hungry for it.
We had been in municipal ISP for quite some time starting off with DSL and wireless and outgrown that technology and so really the only next step for technology was to go to fiber. So, in 2014 SandyNet partnered with OFS to bring high-speed fiber to Sandy’s businesses and residents. They set some specific goals at the time that included deploying a future-proof fiber optic network. Providing all neighborhoods with the same service enabling residents the ability to access videos, e-learning, gaming, and government services, increasing Sandy’s competitiveness to attract new business and offering the city-owned network as a utility. In the years since upgrading to a fiber optic network, how has Sandy done with meeting their goals?
Sandy’s seeing some unprecedented growth right now both on the residential side and a lot of commercial opportunities. Going forward, SandyNet will continue to help lure people here and increase our tax base, increase our residence and increase the virtual learning environment that a lot of our students are partaking in. Right now, over the course of the last six seven years, during that time period I’ve talked to a number of people in Sandy who have moved here to the community and while it wasn’t the sole decision that they made the fact that gigabit fiber was available at their residence in a wired solution was the deciding factor for several people to buy a house in this community.
Our community has just thrived with having that big fat fiber pipe. That’s one of the things for us where we were always struggling with the amount of capacity that our previous internet service providers were giving to us. Now we don’t have that problem anymore. We have over capacity in a sense. We have enough to where people can stream and listen to music while they’re working and we can still get all our work done. We can download the data that we need to get it done in minutes, seconds. Instead of an hour or two, we can upload stuff into our servers, into our clients servers, quickly just all of that greatness that comes with having a really fast internet connection.
It’s a great asset to have our SandyNet charges on the same utility bill that our water and sewer charges are on. It’s an easy one payment a month to have this service that you know is much more affordable than a lot of the other providers that are out both in our area and nationally.
But back in 2014 when SandyNet was deploying fiber to try and make its network future proof no one could have foreseen what fiber would mean to not just the town but the entire world in 2020. There was virtually no one whose life was not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Having a high speed fiber optic network became the difference between those who were able to keep pace with the world and those who were left wanting something better. It was amazing that we got our fiber put in place when we did. It was built out to so many homes and had gone in front of hundreds of the homes in Sandy. Those that didn’t initially take it, could get it during that time. There was no rationing. We were in school one day and then everyone was at home the next day. Not just students, but also people working from home.
When you have a strand of fiber going to your house providing gigabit capacity it makes working from home very easy and I think a lot of people have been very happy with the service that they’ve gotten here in Sandy. From council meetings being held virtually, to team meetings, and other department meetings at the administrative level, we were able to continue our operations seamlessly with the help of SandyNet During the pandemic we did see an increase in speed upwards of 25 across our overall traffic patterns. Mostly traffic did increase during the workday. Our network is designed to be able to carry that load.
Once the city of Sandy decided to go all in with fiber who better to turn to than OFS. The industry leading experts at OFS were able to design, engineer, and deploy a network that was easily able to meet all of Sandy’s goals for a robust future-proof network.
OFS is able to combine several products that are designed to work with the gigabit, and 10 gigabit, 25 gigabit fiber. OFS can integrate solutions together to provide a complete turnkey solution for fiber to the home to our customers. We have to thank OFS a lot for SandyNet. We can’t go out and buy a book on how to set up fiber to the home network. Working with people that have been in the industry for 30 some years and having a great team that has worked on fiber the home projects in the past has been great. OFS has done all the heavy lifting. They’ve figured out all the optical budget information and then just provided this seamless solution and high-quality product.
Sandy’s been a fantastic success. We really appreciate all the opportunities from the city of Sandy for OFS. A complete OFS product solution along with the design the engineering, the build has provided the city of Sandy residents with great economic enhancement and quality of life improvement for decades to come. It would be a lot harder to differentiate Sandy from any other city of 12,000 people in Oregon. We still have many things that make us unique, but SandyNet really is the biggest one and I think it will have the most impact on our community over time.
Researchers at Australia’s RMIT University recently discovered a new fiber optic breakthrough that could lead to 100 times faster internet speeds. This new development detects light that has been twisted into a spiral.
According to research in Nature Communications, developers could upgrade existing fiber optic networks and boost efficiency using this discovery.
HOW IT WORKS
Fiber optic cables use pulses of light to transmit information. However, users can only store that data based on the color of the light and whether the light wave is horizontal or vertical.
The RMIT researchers twisted light into a spiral and created a third dimension for light to carry information – the level of orbital angular momentum, or spin. Dr. Min Gu of RMIT compared it to the double helix spiral of DNA. According to Dr. Gu, a greater amount of angular momentum allows an optical fiber to carry a larger amount of information.
Researchers have used “twisted light” approaches and orbital angular momentum before. They encoded a greater amount of data in various degrees of twist using these “twisted” methods. In fact, researchers at Boston University and the University of Southern California developed an optic fiber that could twist light. However, the teams used detectors as large as “the size of a dining table.” The RMIT researchers created a reasonably-sized detector that reads the information it holds. The new detector is the width of a human hair.
WHAT IT CAN DO
Providers could upgrade long haul networks around the globe with this new fiber optic technology. These companies include the NBN Co. NBN is deploying Australia’s national broadband network. The company expects to complete this network by 2020.
NBN is “prepared for future demand.” However, they have also stated that fiber optic advances such as this one by RMIT need further testing and acceptance before being deployed. A spokesperson commented, “Laboratories continually test new communications technologies for many years before they are commercialized. Equipment manufacturers and network operators must accept these new methods on a widespread scale before they are ready to be deployed in the field.”
Have you ever wondered how an e-mail reaches your inbox from a co-worker in Europe? Or how a Facebook message gets to you from a cousin in Africa?
The answer lies beneath the ocean. More than 745,000 miles of submarine cables featuring optical fiber make up most of the actual physical internet. These cables wind between and around continents, carrying almost all of our global internet communication.
Recently, the huge amount of data sent between connected smart devices has begun clogging this network of submarine cables, just as interstate highways become jammed with traffic. One way to deal with this massive data growth is to increase the bandwidth capacity of the physical internet. Another way is to create more direct transmission paths between continents.
Taking It Direct
A new project in Finland hopes to use this second method. The plan is to install a new fiber optic cable route across the Arctic Ocean – the only large water body that is really untouched by submarine cables. While melting sea ice raises tremendous concerns for the health of our planet, it presents an entirely new opportunity to install digital links on a straight course between continents.
For data from Asia to reach Europe, it must travel over thousands of cable miles around Asia, up through the Suez Canal and across the Mediterranean Sea into continental Europe. And while this occurs faster than the blink of an eye (about 253 milliseconds), researchers say that data and communication could travel 30 percent faster over a shorter, more direct cable route through the Arctic.
Faster Connections Are Key
Banks and financial trading groups eagerly await faster connections. Traders depend on powerful, low latency networks to buy and sell securities where milliseconds can affect profit and loss. However, big data would also benefit. Today, internet-connected devices outnumber people on the Earth by an almost 3 to 1 margin. And experts predict that internet traffic between Europe and Asia will triple in the next five years.
The deployment of this new cable would actually extend an existing cable route through Finland into Germany. And while a feasibility study by the Government of Finland calls the project a “win-win-win” for Europe, Russia and Asia, there are key areas of concern.
First, constructing this new cable route would cost nearly a billion Euros. Secondly, the icy Arctic terrain and harsh weather conditions would certainly present logistical challenges. And there are always issues involving security. However, a separate cable installation linking Tokyo and London by way of Alaska and Canada is already underway.
Our planet needs more almost supersonic connections. We can expect to see more efforts around the globe to reduce data “pile-ups” and speed the delivery of data and communication.
High density cable means more fiber density in less space. From 5G to data centers to FTTx, the picture is clear. Everyone uses more bandwidth than ever before. And while bandwidth demand may seem endless, the space to install fiber optic cable isn’t. That’s why being able to install more optical fiber in the same or less space can be a game changer for today’s network operators. And it’s why “High Density” is also a critical word for many service providers today.
With microcables and rollable ribbon cables that increase fiber density while saving on space, OFS is your high-density fiber optic cable solutions provider.
Rolling In the Optical Fiber
Rollable Ribbon fiber optic cables are one of the most exciting outside plant (OSP) cabling technologies today. These cables feature rollable ribbons, the newest fiber ribbon design from OFS. This ribbon can be “rolled” (compacted) and routed like individual fibers, allowing the use of smaller closures and splice trays.
With up to 3,456 fibers, OFS AccuTube®+ Rollable Ribbon (RR) Cables help network operators double their fiber density in the same size duct or space. They also enable very efficient, cost-effective mass fusion splicing and easy individual fiber breakout. This ability helps simplify installation and save on labor costs. And by maximizing duct use, high-density AccuTube+ RR Cables are an excellent choice for connecting very large fiber distribution hubs. They are also very suitable for data centers, FTTx and access networks.
Taking Things Indoors……
With the award-winning AccuRiser™ RR and AccuFlex® RR Cables, network operators can bring the benefits of rollable ribbon cables indoors. The innovative indoor/outdoor AccuRiser RR Cable helps ease cable installation over ladder racking and through tight bends during routing. This high-density cable is excellent for use in data centers or central offices. It’s also a great choice for building-to-building cable connections along with routing for terminations and frames, and preconnectorized applications.
The strong yet flexible, plenum-rated AccuFlex RR Cable helps prevent installation problems such as packing density, routing and deployment speed. This cable’s flame rating meets NFPA 262, allowing the cable to be installed into air-handling spaces. The AccuFlex RR Cable is an outstanding solution for data centers, central offices and head ends.
And for network operators who prefer ribbon cables and the benefits of mass fusion splicing, OFS offers the AccuRibbon® DuctSaver® FX Cable. This cable makes optimal use of valuable duct space. It also maximizes the key advantages of air-blown microduct installation: rapid deployment and service turn-up.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest $95 million to improve or expand access to broadband internet in the rural U.S. The 12 projects involved will include converting exchanges from copper to optical fiber and also building a fiber-to-the-home network to meet future demand.
These projects will expand access to educational, social and business opportunities for rural subscribers in 11 states by connecting businesses to customers, farmers to markets and students to a world of knowledge.
Location Should Not Determine Access
According to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, “A person’s location should not determine whether he or she has access to modern communications infrastructure. That is why the USDA is partnering with businesses and communities by investing in state-of-the-art broadband e-connectivity to remote and rural areas.”
The USDA is making the investments through the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and the Community Connect Grant Program.
Examples of the Investments
Chibardun Telephone Cooperative, Inc. in Cameron, Wisconsin, will receive a $21.4 million loan to improve outside plant facilities in four of its six exchanges. It will construct 675 miles of fiber-to-the-premises and install associated electronics. It plans to build a fiber-to-the-home network capable of sustaining customer demands in broadband connectivity for the foreseeable future.
Osage Innovative Solutions, LLC in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will receive a $2.7 million grant to construct a hybrid fiber-to-the-premises and fixed wireless system in an unserved and economically depressed portion of the Osage Nation in Osage County. The company will offer speeds up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 10 Mbps upload. This project will give customers access to high-quality telecommunications to improve economic, education and health care opportunities. Osage will provide a community center where residents can access the internet free of charge.
The Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Company, in Green City, Missouri, is receiving a $13.7 million loan to convert six exchanges from copper plant to optical fiber to the premises. It will construct nearly 500 route miles of optical fiber.
These investments will help to improve the quality of life in rural Arizona, Iowa, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.