Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 2015

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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MARCH/APRIL 2015 | www.broadbandcommunities.com | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | 83 where everything down to the color of paint can be predetermined. FIBER IN THE LAST MILE In its simplest terms, the objective of the last mile is to get a fber from an access point to a customer in the most efcient and cost-efective way. Te simplest method (I hope nobody does this) is to lay a bare fber on top of the ground. Tough it is quick and uses the least material, and though the fber can be replaced quickly and inexpensively, such a method would soon result in a damaged, cut or destroyed fber and an unhappy customer – and, eventually, no customer. Back to the drawing board. Te fber needs to be a little tougher so it can hold up to harsh environments and placement considerations. Te traditional method, and the method most commonly used today, is to bury a fat drop cable of a very rugged construction. Tat meets the goal! Or does it? Stif drop cables are never made to exact length. A technician or a planning engineer needs to be short on the length only once to realize how much time and money the shortfall cost the company – not to mention that the customer is not getting his football channels the day he thought he would. So what happens? Te engineer orders a longer length of cable, "to be safe," and a new problem arises: where to put the slack? Te coil size of such a stif cable, because of its construction, prevents it from being stored in the fber management device at its end. Now an additional slack storage box is required, or the extra coil length must be hung somewhere on the dwelling – neither of which is aesthetically pleasing. If the fber is damaged or cut, the only restoration process is to dig up the customer's yard and retrench another drop cable. If the fat drop is buried within duct, there is a pathway for restoration with minimal disruption to the environment, but because of the diameter of the fat drop cable and size of the corresponding connector, the duct is large and disruptive to bury. And we come full circle – the cable is meant to be direct buried. Burying duct adds materials costs to use a product in a way it was not designed for! A BETTER WAY When my product development team and I sit down to design a fber management product to meet a particular need, we give major consideration to slack storage. We often must allocate 20 percent or more of the footprint just for storing slack if we are going to design the product correctly considering current deployment methods and fber management basics. Tis is true for products that range from high-density panels in the central ofce to cabinets in the feld. Fiber management does three things: It consolidates, distributes and protects fber. Drop cable in FTTx environments performs these same jobs for a single fber. Most drop cables today are constructed with a tremendous amount of protection around the single fber. Fiberglass strength members, central tubes, and heavy and rugged polymers add to the dimensions of the cable, resulting in a product that must either be made to exact length or allow for slack. Slack storage boxes specifcally for cable, larger designs or blunt-end splicing of connectors drive up the materials and labor costs of installations. Why not take advantage of one of fber's inherent advantages – its small diameter? Why not take advantage of one? Fiber must be protected in a fber management device and then must be protected through the route path to the next fber management device. Separating the two cases – that is, protecting a small fber through every route path and fber management device in separate and diferent ways – takes advantage of a fber's small footprint, reduces the space requirement for storing slack and still fully protects the investment. First, consider the access point – the fnal fber consolidation point in the network before the fnal drop to the customer premises. At an access point, as at a fber panel or frame, a metal or plastic fber management device that consolidates and distributes the fber provides physical fber protection. Why store a cable meant for direct burial in this device? It only increases the size of the footprint and costs. When the fber leaves the fber management device, a pathway can protect it. Advances in connector size and hardened connector deployment allow microduct of 10 millimeters or smaller to be used rather than large Thin drop fber requires little room to store. By protecting fber diferently in fber management devices and in route paths, network designers can take advantage of fber's small diameter.

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