Our telecommunication industry has witnessed various stages of transformation in India. It has experienced massive growth over the last few decades. A key factor in sustaining this growth in the telecommunication industry is the fiber rollout services that lay the groundwork for an efficient fiber infrastructure, deployment, and management.
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Today, fiber optics technology is a communication medium and the primary network infrastructure. With an increased demand for new technology, fiber optics promises a flexible, scalable, full-service network platform. Moreover, it is capable of providing much higher bandwidth capacity along with high speed for existing as well as future technologies.
Agility with a fiber broadband network
Several mobile network operators have invested strategically in fiber rollout services. Homes, offices, and organizations depend heavily on internet services for their daily operations. Their operations rely on the internet to help meet set targets within their organization and increase productivity.
MNOs or mobile network operators extend their abilities to deploy and manage the network infrastructure strategically. A fiber optics network provides an infrastructure for cable and wireless broadband services for higher bandwidth capacity. Industries and other businesses have taken advantage of this high-capacity fiber technology for transmitting voice, video, and data traffic.
What is the fiber deployment process?
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MNOs have adopted varied strategies for deploying fiber optics cables under the fiber rollout services. However, the best fiber deployment approach is the one that primarily helps achieve a competitive advantage in the emerging digital market with leading-edge services that have minimal interruption.
A fiber deployment process can be for an entirely new installation, an upgrade, a new deployment, or even an expansion of services. Whatever the case, there are three general phases of a fiber deployment process. They are:
- Planning and network design
- Network operations
Each fiber network provider has to face circumstances and situations that are distinctively unique to the community they serve. Therefore, they generally adopt the international standard of fiber optics cable transmission. Typically, single-mode fiber optics cables are used for long-distance communication. The selection of parameters for the fiber optic cable, such as cable wavelength, bending strength, connectors, and signal losses, depends on the discretion of the MNOs.
Let us discuss these 3 phases in detail now.
- Planning and network design
The first thing that optic fiber carriers have to work out is where to start on the road to better, faster broadband networks. Their focus has to be on utilizing their resources to create a sustainable business case for all fiber deployment. This fiber deployment stage deals with building a favorable financial model for deployment. It must be based on community assets, estimated demand and project capital, and operational costs.
Fiber providers would benefit if they used their assets to reduce costs and enhance potential revenues. Service providers can use the latest advancements in FTTH technology as an economical solution to expand fiber rollout services in their service area.
After selecting a network design, service providers need to find and implement the most efficient methods for connecting networks and subscribers, whether in a single-family or multi-tenant building.
Most of our population lives in buildings with multiple dwelling units (MDU) or multiple units. Fiber extension to these buildings has its own technical challenges. The fiber network construction team has to decide on the best network architecture, equipment designs, and business model. These factors impact construction costs, deployment speed, and flexibility for services in the future.
- Network operations
Once the network is deployed, network operators are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance. In addition, they have to extend fiber rollout services to meet the demands of new and existing customers and meet revenue expectations from the network as well.
The increase in data demand and the resulting IP explosion are responsible for changing the access network. The shift to IP traffic has driven changes to the Central Office or the CO. It has started operating like a data center and has caused a transformation of the equipment within the CO along with the cabling infrastructure associated with it.
Deployment strategies for fiber optics cable
Various methods of fiber deployment are popular. The type of installation in the fiber rollout services depends mainly on the development level of the area, the environment, business operations, and the population density. Primarily, there are three techniques for installing fiber optic cables:
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Aerial installation of fiber cables involves the installation of the cables on pylons or utility poles. Fiber cables used for aerial installation are prone to continual tension caused by wind, temperature changes, and the weight of ice in cold regions.
Most fiber optic cables are not strong enough for direct aerial installation. Hence, the installer teams need to use special installation techniques for such cables designed for aerial installation. One such way is to attach (lash) a regular fiber cable with a metallic stranded cable as a support to the cable.
There is a category of ADSS cables designed with a thicker jacket with adequate strength to withstand the pressures of aerial installation. Another type of aerial cable is the optical power ground wire (OPGW) used to provide communications as well as power. OPGW is a high-voltage conductor with an optical fiber cable in a hermetically sealed central tube.
- Underground installation
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Underground fiber optic cables are used for fiber cable installation beneath the earth’s surface at a specified depth. They are instrumental in urban areas for cross-country cabling. They are even helpful in areas where cables are subject to hostile weather conditions and must be protected. Underground cables can be installed by
- Burying them in the ground directly
- Placing the fiber cable in a duct buried underground
The direct-buried cables are robust, sturdy, and built to tolerate heat, conductivity, moisture, and soil acidity. Multiple layers of metallic-banded sheathing are present in direct bury cables.Heavy rubber covers, shock-absorbing gel cover these sheaths, and waterproof tape hardened by a heavy metal core.
Direct-buried cables are cheaper and easier to install than other cables and are extensively used for voice and data transmissions. However, these cables can be easily cut during digging, so most of them are used on the side roads.
Installation in duct
In highly urbanized areas, it becomes more challenging to dig the ground. So, duct installation is carried out where the fiber optic cables are placed in installed ducts. The cables are pulled in the conduit that is buried underground, usually 3 to 4 feet deep. They are then placed in a plastic pipe with a preinstalled inner duct. The duct protects the fiber optic cables and makes fiber cable expansion easier.
Submarine fiber deployment
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Submarine cables are used for fiber deployment undersea. They carry telecommunications signals along the seabed between stations on land near the sea. They are more reliable than satellites and have a greater capacity. In fact, approximately 95% of all international data between islands and continents is transmitted using these cables.
High-speed internet connectivity through optical networks is an essential, in fact, daily need for people. However, proficient service delivery relies on the existence of an efficient infrastructural deployment and management and extensive fiber rollout services.
Powerful economic support for expanding fiber deployment has brought together governments, fiber providers, businesses, and telecom organizations. With the fiber deployment process getting a speed up, fiber networks hope to provide years of reliable service at minimal costs. No wonder the new reality is going to be transformational.
Is distance a challenge in the fiber deployment process?
When laying down a fiber cable, it cannot simply be stretched. Every 40 to 60 miles, the connection needs an in-line amplification shelter to re-amplify the signals. These shelters have high build and maintenance costs.
How does RoW or Right of Way impact the deployment of fiber?
RoW continues to be the biggest impediment in India’s fiber rollout process of the OFC networks. RoW gives guidelines to Telcos to lay up their infrastructure elements, such as towers and optical fiber cables, on a designated route. Over the years, telecom companies have continued to work hard to expand their fiber footprint. It is due to variable, complicated, and costly RoW procedures across states.
What are two more roadblocks to the fiber deployment process?
Fiber deployment is expensive in towns and cities outside of major metropolitan areas. These regions have fewer people per capita. This makes the network providers skeptical about extending fiber over extra miles in such areas. Environmental obstacles are another reason for delays in most broadband deployments.
How do environmental challenges impact fiber deployment?
Rural areas tend to have more varied terrain and lesser developed infrastructure than developed urban areas. As a result, rocky soils, marshy or mountainous regions, and underground installations pose different challenges for the installers.
What is the primary cause of transmission failure in the case of fiber optic cables?
Fiber cable cuts are a significant cause of transmission failure that disrupts telecommunication services. The number of network outages has greatly increased due to cable cuts in fiber optics networks. It greatly impacts the subscriber’s experience.