Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

So how long have active (or powered) cabinets for telecom services been around?  Well, since there have been telecom services.  And I don’t mean smoke signals, drums and pigeons, for which there is an argument, or lighted beacons on a seashore or hill.  But I digress.

Let’s zoom forward and past early telephony systems and right up to when Al Gore was inventing the internet.  The need for consolidation and distribution of multiple circuits, along with re-generation of the power source to drive content (voice, data and video), required that this network element be placed closer to the customers that it served.  Brick and mortar central offices, where all this traffic was previously managed, was further segregated and distributed deeper in the network.  The distance limitations of copper required active regeneration of signal and this is where it could be done – the active cabinet.   Over the years the cabinet configuration and what it could provide came and went in various forms, supplied by multiple vendors in the industry.  Early internet content was delivered across the traditional telephony network with DSL.  Various iterations of DSL continued to maximize what it could out of the dominant media of the time – copper.    As the need for bi-directional traffic grew, the requirement for faster backhaul services to facilitate this grew and was the perfect fit for fiber - due to the amount of bandwidth it could carry.  Copper last mile services and infrastructure grew while fiber interconnected these networks back and forth from the content origination point – the central office.  

Along the way somebody finally asked the question, “If fiber has all this bandwidth for back haul/uplink services, greatly reduces operational costs through less actives and distance, and is less expensive than copper, then why wouldn’t we build it all the way to the home?”  Great question.  And so it was.  This drove the need for a whole new line of passive, non-powered cabinets; fiber-rich cabinets that served up to 1,152 homes from a single network point through centralized split or point-to-point architectures.  The distance and reach fiber provided eliminated many of the actives between content origination and the final destination, as well as limitless bandwidth constrained only by the technology currently being deployed.  A passive cabinet requires strict adherence to the basic rules of fiber management along with a termination process that satisfies the standards.   Access, bend radius protection, physical fiber protection and route diversity MUST be present, along with a high quality termination certified to the Telcordia standards, for passive network elements in a FTTH network to ensure the reliability and performance of the network. 

Enter Clearfield

A leading provider of passive connectivity and fiber management since 2008, Clearfield has deployed tens of thousands of passive cabinets to over 650 customers across the United States.  Sound familiar? Using a design methodology anchored by the Clearview Cassette, Clearfield fiber management solutions provide flexible and highly configurable options that scale, not only within passive cabinets offered by Clearfield, but across the network – Central Office to the final single fiber delivery point.

Calix became a leader in this market with their game-changing software, deploying broadband services, often through active cabinets, in the tier 1, 2 & 3 markets.  Their cabinet was and is one of the premier cabinets in the market for functionality, quality and flexibility.  With over 10,000 cabinets deployed in the field today across hundreds of customers, the ODC active cabinet has been proven to protect the Calix equipment investment and withstand the harshest environments.  Engineered cabinet options provide the customer the ability to place a variety of equipment solutions for virtually any deployment model.  A variety of thermal options allow the customer flexibility in their deployment to grow location services modularly over an extended period of time.  Options for power enhancements and battery backup provide cost effective solutions in a short period of time.  This flexibility coupled with 3rd party-tested and compliant to Telcordia GR-487 provides a quality and value-drive solution that customers can depend on.  Additionally, Clearfield fiber management solutions were deployed into Calix active cabinets when fiber services were being deployed. 

A perfect marriage

Early broadband services deployed over copper pushed the need for active cabinets deployed deeper in the network.  Continuous bandwidth demands drove fiber from addressing uplink/backhaul services to being deployed all the way to the customer and significantly reducing the actives in the field.  Fiber services out of an active cabinet were the “edge computing” devices that we hear so much about today.  We’ve been doing it for a while!

Current and future broadband technologies require the actives be placed deeper in the network.  These same technologies require that fiber be placed right there alongside them to quickly transport and backhaul content with the lowest latency possible.  The insatiable demand for bandwidth requires these two network elements (active/passive) come together. Besides the cord-cutting technologies of video, music services and the internet, the “Internet of Things” (IoT) will have 26.66 billion devices connected to it by the end of this year.  In 2025, it is estimated to be 75.44 billion!  Fiber must be placed as close to the actives as possible to quickly facilitate all this traffic.  We do not want a self-driving car to have any latency otherwise, the next left it makes might be right into your living room. 

In March of 2018, Clearfield acquired the active ODC cabinet line from Calix.  We continue to build and integrate equipment for Calix, but now Clearfield has taken one of the highest quality cabinets in the industry and have re-positioned it for any active integration using the fiber management expertise of Clearfield to fiber-optimize the newly-named FieldSmart Fiber Active Cabinet (FAC).  True to the Clearfield approach, the voice of customer will shape the fiber solutions offered, starting with building blocks that are inherent in every Clearfield design.  The marriage also positions Clearfield to address emerging technologies with an expertise both in active enclosures and passive connectivity.  In the coming months/years, Clearfield will bring forth a variety of active, fiber-rich enclosures that address all technologies and the innovative fiber solutions they will require. 

From smoke signals across a canyon to light propagation down a waveguide…..

Johnny Hill

Johnny Hill is the Chief Operating Officer of Clearfield, Inc. Formerly the Vice President of Engineering and Product Management, Hill is considered a longstanding leader and a founding member of the company.