As part of the increment in communications technology, the demands and requirements in the fiber optic market have also grown, always on the look for operative and application improvements for fiber optic networks. In recent years, there has been an increase in FTTH (Fiber to the Home) installations; this type of technology is based upon the use of fiber optic cables to provide Internet, IP Telephone, and Television (IPTV) services to homes, businesses, and enterprises.
One of the competitive advantages that makes FTTH installations a compelling option is the speed of data transmission, and with the increased quality of both sound and video in consumer content, such as streaming TV and movies, a complete technology such as this, is needed.
The different environments in which FTTX solutions are deployed, have widened the range of possibilities to lay their fiber optic units at different final installation points, for example, 5G connections will need more small base stations/distributed antenna systems (DAS), which is why the derived FTTA (Fiber To The Antenna) installation will be of great importance in the network architecture of this type of connections, representing a huge leap in the telecommunications ground.
Some of the most used FTTX installations today are:
- FTTN: Fiber to the Node – Fiber ends after the backbone network, commonly at the vicinity or node where it is required.
- FTTB: Fiber to the Building – Fiber ends before, at the middle of a distribution point, inside of the building where the backbone network is found.
- FTTC: Fiber to the Cabinet – A model where the fiber optic network reaches a stand (or cabinet) located near the houses or offices in which is deployed.
- FTTD: Fiber to the Desk – Here, the fiber optic unit reaches the desk directly, creating a more stable and fast connection to perform daily office tasks.
Indoor and Indoor/Outdoor Plant Solutions
Indoor and indoor/outdoor fiber optic cables commonly try to take the most advantage out of the room available in their corresponding installations. Due to the increased fiber optic demand that requires a growing density of fiber, cable developers in the telecommunications market have chosen to manufacture cables with the smallest diameter they can get without leaving aside their operative fulfillment.
Cables exposed to external environmental conditions (such as UV light, sudden temperature changes, etc.) must contemplate a sheath that can withstand these factors. Being commonly colored black, a scheme that keeps being used in cables deployed indoors, one of the directions the market has been taking nowadays is using cables that have no visual impact inside a building: a lot of companies have chosen to manufacture fully transparent or white cables, with the purpose of being unseen, reducing visual contamination triggered by fiber optic installations.
Alongside transparent and white cables, there’s also an added approach to simplify installation by easily strip and access fibers; to do this, manufacturers choose low-density sheaths to reduce the number of tools required to a minimum, to the point of looking for alternatives that can achieve cable stripping using only the installer’s hands.
Getting a raw material provider to manufacture sheathing is not a difficult task, but it does turn into a complicated matter when contemplating the idea of cables that are capable of self extinguish themselves in case of fire.
Some inside plant cable norms also need that alongside this requirement, cables cannot be able to produce halogen gases when in contact with flames, and because of this, LSZH has become a very popular material to use when talking about fiber optic cable production for indoor applications.
Outdoor Plant Solutions
The demand for cable structures in outside applications will depend directly on the zone and installation type, this means that in zones with cable-biting animal problems, there is a higher tendency to use cables with rodent protection or repellence, with alternative materials like nylon sheathing or metallic armor that are very hard to gnaw through. Even though there are infinite alternatives that exist in the market to tackle this issue, it is hard to guarantee one that offers 100% protection effectiveness.
When we shift the trend to duct installations, where there is already a layer of semi-protection, it’s not required to offer a cable that incorporates an extra rodent shielding, that’s why the most recommended option would be a dielectric one, although, in some cases, there is also recommended to use cables with armored structures that can withstand compression.
For aerial solutions, ADSS cables have gained a superior position among installers, because of the conveniences they provide: a totally dielectric design that does not require grounding, and therefore, does not represent electrical shock hazards.
As you can see, the demands for specific fiber optic cables in the current market state depend on the final use for the product, that’s why companies have opted for putting together technical teams that specialize in special cable designs depending on the type of installation, this, while also being able to understand the client’s specifications to offer a solution that can satisfy their different needs.
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- Keiser, G. (2006). FTTX concepts and applications (Vol. 91, p. 196).
- Lutkevich, Ben (2020). Fiber to the Home (ftth).
- Mitchell, Bradley (2021). What Is Fiber Optic Cable?
- Network X Security (N.D.). Fiber to the X.
- PC Magazine (N.D.). Definition of FTTN.