Jamie McGee, Product Specialist, Emtelle, questions why premises around the world are still underserved by a fibre connection. He talks about the importance of delivering high-speed, reliable, future-proof connectivity which will enable truly connected homes for customers.
As emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and Virtual and Augmented Reality increase at an exponential rate, delivering Fibre-to-the-x networks (FTTx) is at the top of every governments’, operators’, industry bodies’ and equipment vendors’ agenda.
Moreover, as these applications become increasingly present in the home and end-users’ viewing habits sway from traditional TV services to online viewing platforms such as Netflix and Amazon TV, the need to lay fibre to the doors of residential premises and businesses at the same speed has never been greater.
For Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) to become a reality, quality networks to the home are critical. That is why installation teams have spent decades building the best quality fibre networks around the globe; connecting country to country, city to city and town to town. These networks have been heavily invested in to last the test of time and widen the ability for huge amounts of data to pass through the continents where we live. This, in turn, is allowing end-users to share knowledge across all corners of the world, making it appear to be a smaller, more unified place.
So, when you look at the numbers of premises around the world that are still underserved by a fibre connection, it’s hard to wonder why? And most importantly, how this can be done?
Keeping up with demands
For much of the world, access to fibre has become the norm. However, this is not the case for all countries, with 187 million homes still to be passed for Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) by 2025 in Europe alone and a further 649 million FTTH subscribers expected to be connected by 2023 in the APAC region. To ensure fibre is present in all corners of the globe, governments are introducing broadband plans to ensure superfast broadband can be delivered straight to end-users’ homes and offices.
However, if these fibre connections are to be future-proof and be able to accommodate large increases in bandwidth, they need to be easy-to-install and provide consistent reliability as soon as the drop cables are taken out of their packaging.
Overcoming skill shortages
In a world where all these fibre connections are to be made, it’s inevitable that this demand is outweighing the number of trained and skilled fibre engineers who are trained and skilled enough to do the job. In all corners of the world, the industry is seeing one of the most significant skills gaps when it comes to fibre, which is further hindering governments’ plans to make FTTx a reality.
This is particularly the case when it comes to enabling FTTH, as the number of people involved in making the drops to the homes inevitably means that there will be shortages in trained personnel and skill sets. This is particularly a challenge when it comes to fibre splicing, as the lack of specialised fibre splicing technicians can result in further costs for operators. Coupled with this is the hefty price of fibre splicing technology, which presents further hurdles for operators as they compete with old and emerging competitors in the market to offer more services at a lower price to their customers.
This presents grave problems as the drop to the home demands high-quality and can often mean the difference between end-users receiving the ultrafast, reliable broadband speeds that they have become accustomed to. What’s more, end-users don’t want to be hassled with operators returning to their home to fix a faulty connection – what they want is for their devices to work seamlessly and be supported by fast, reliable connectivity.
One of the most reliable ways to overcome this and to achieve a good fibre connection is to have the drop fibre connected at both ends. However, a small fibre cable connector at the home end is also required so that the fibre connector can be installed through potentially congested ducts and through the home wall. In order to do this in minimal time, with minimal disruption and manpower, it’s essential that the connector on the customer end can be easily and quickly installed.
To address this need three leading companies in their field sat down together to discuss a concept, a solution which could enable and accelerate the future of FTTH. This has led to them working together to bring a new solution to market that will bring significant benefits to FTTH deployments in Europe and beyond.
Three companies, one solution
Consisting of cleverly designed closures, a ruggedised fibre connector and series of fibre cables – one of which is ‘hollow’ to allow for a specialised miniature fibre connector to be installed which is nearly half the size of the diameter of the cable – FibreTap combines the abilities of Emtelle, HellermanTyton and SENKO. Bringing together the designers, installers and fibre trainers from three different sectors in the FTTx industry, the solution has been created to answer operators’ needs worldwide and has been tested to withstand extreme conditions.
Addressing operators’ main FTTP pain points, the plug and play solution has been designed for overhead and underground use, providing maximum benefits for FTTP drop connections. As a non-splice solution, installations at homes can be carried out with greater ease and speed as it saves time at the customer drop through its plug and play connection method. A design such as this is also beneficial as the solution can be installed with minimum training, providing a solution to the fibre skills gap, while maximising the opportunity for high-quality fibre connections.
Maintaining a ruggedised design from the cable to the connector and beyond to the closure is also essential and ensures optimum protection of the cable and connection. This, in turn, will ensure that the solution remains consistent in maintaining high-quality, fast and future-proof connections, even as online bandwidth demands increase.
With an increase in demand for fibre worldwide and to cope with the ever-increasing need for broadband speeds as the online world grows, operators are in need of solutions which are easy to install, reliable and future-proof.
For operators, a solution such as this can open new doors – providing them with the means to break down the barriers which are hindering their FTTx and FTTP deployments, such as lack of trained engineers, costly rollouts and extensive installation times. What’s more, this will ultimately result in lower cost-per-home connectivity and in some cases, will aid a more feasible deployment area that would have otherwise been deemed uncommercially viable.
This will not only propel operators to satisfy the demands of governments’ prosperous FTTx plans, but deliver the high-speed, reliable, future-proof connectivity which will enable truly connected homes for their customers.