Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

We’re in a once-in-a-lifetime volume of activity around bridging the digital divide. Figure 1 shows the tens of billions of dollars available from many of the major broadband funding programs. What isn’t shown are the many billions the private equity market is pouring into building out broadband, for example the $1.4 billion WaveDivision Capital paid Frontier to create Ziply Fiber. The Fiber Broadband Association states there are more than 30 different funds that already have investments in the fiber sector. Those dollars are being spent today. It’s a race to see who can get fiber to the customer first.

Figure 1 Estimated Broadband Infrastructure Subsidies
Figure 1 Estimated Broadband Infrastructure Subsidies

We’ve talked about how much it will cost and especially about the time required to get all this done. Adding to the challenge: the materials to build this network are harder to come by, and the skilled labor pool is shrinking every day.

Clearfield's FastPass methodology turns traditional deployment methods on it's head through products designed to challenge the status quo and deliver fiber deployments faster than ever before. The FastPass method is easier to install, use less-skilled labor, and – more important – take less time. We applied this in the outside plant at the fiber distribution hub (FDH) and demonstrated in a customer-commissioned study how the operator can place twice the number of FDH cabinets in the same amount of time using the FastPass method that utilizes in-cassette splicing. (See “Doubling Your Rate of Fiber Homes Passed is a Matter of TIME”)

But What About Speeding the CONNECTIONS to Those Homes?

Today we want to outline other use cases in which service providers used the FastPass approach to – you guessed it – turn up broadband customers twice as fast by speeding the final connection at the home. How can we save you time when connecting new customers? At Clearfield, we always strive to make the deployment easier to install in less time and with less-skilled labor. We applied these concepts at the home by pre-terminating the cable components at the factory to get better performance and eliminate connector installation in the field. Using the FastPass connect method, both the drop cable and the house entry cable are delivered with factory-installed, factory-tested pushable connectors. Plus, we add a snap-in reel to the TAP box, allowing you to pull the exact amount of premises cable directly to the access point. So, how is that different from the traditional method?

The Old Way

Figure 2 Traditional method at the demarcation point

Each broadband provider designs the network somewhat uniquely, but typically a drop cable is deployed either aerially or underground from an upstream terminal to a test and access point (TAP or NID or demarcation point) on the side of the home pictured in Figure 2. Then – in an all-fiber solution – a fiber is run from that TAP box/demarcation point into the home to connect the ONT inside. The black cable is the drop to the house from the terminal and the white cable is the premises cable.

That drop cable is either spliced directly to the fiber that enters the home or joined with mating connectors. But splicing takes time – specifically the prep and set-up take time. More important, it requires skilled labor, which is in short supply.

If connectors are used, three are required. One for the drop cable and one for each end of the fiber running into the home. And while field-installed fiber connectors have become much easier to use, there is still some art to it – again requiring a more skilled technician. One large provider admitted it often takes 3 attempts at splicing a connector on one end just to get an acceptable installation with acceptable loss.  The result is wasted time, skilled labor and materials – all of which are in short supply.

Connecting More Homes with FastPass Connect

With FastPass, in addition to pre-connectorized cables, Clearfield provides an ultra-compact test access point (TAP) box for the side of the house and equips it with a FLEXdrop® Deploy Reel – shown in Figure 3.  The Deploy Reel contains up to 100-feet of pre-connectorized FLEXdrop cable on a 4-1/2-inch reel that snaps easily into the TAP box. The incoming drop cable plugs into the pre-terminated connector on one end of the reel and on the other end the pre-terminated pushable connector is deployed into the premises and connects to the optical network terminal (ONT) inside the house. This cable spooling technology makes it easy for the technician to pull off the exact amount of premises cable required for the connection and neatly store any excess in the TAP box.

Figure 3 FastPass Connect with FLEXdrop Deploy Reel spooling technology

A customer-commissioned time study proved this FastPass Connect method saved 30-minutes for every home connected. Equally important, that service provider was able to cut repeat resolutions – truck rolls to fix what wasn’t done right the first time – by 43%. Most of time those repeat visits revealed a problem with the field-installed connectors. While truck rolls can easily cost $200 to $250, the real penalty is that the truck should be turning up a new customer, not fixing a first install done a few days before. Result? Wasted time, skilled labor, materials.

And the time savings are multiplied when moving from a single-family unit to a multiple dwelling unit (MDU). Using the traditional method, another operator moved from a 1-hour baseline to connect a SINGLE customer to successfully turning up 48 CUSTOMERS in 4 hours. Exponential time savings = more customers connected!

Zac Cronauer at Blue Ridge Communications said it this way: “Everything is pre-connectorized and ready to connect once installed in the field without the extensive splicing you’d need otherwise,” Cronauer added. “This is the path forward for increasing the speed of installation at customer sites, something that is craft-friendly, easy to handle, easy to use and reliable.”

One important measure of success is the number of homes passed, but you don’t get to revenue until that home is connected and your service is turned up. Taking advantage of Clearfield’s FastPass method can cut your FDH install time in half and help you double the number of homes passed in a day. Using Clearfield’s FastPass Connect approach enables you to build on that time savings at the customer premises and get to revenue up to twice as fast.

Michael Wood is the Market Manager for Clearfield, advancing Clearfield initiatives via programs related to federal broadband funding, Clearfield’s industry certification program, industry events and customer network deployment stories. Prior to joining Clearfield, Michael held various Engineering, Marketing and Product Management positions in the information and communications technology sector.

Michael holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Notre Dame and is a Certified Fiber Optic Technician (CFOT).