Fiber Optics

THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE CABLE

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FE Administrator

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May 6, 2016

Transitioning from DSL and Copper to Fiber Optic

The age of the internet is exciting. Information is accessible with just a few taps and clicks. The way the world operates and communicates in the 21st century provides anyone with a laptop and an internet connection unparalleled access to information. To support the surge in smart devices and streaming, upgrades to copper lines and a transition to fiber optic cable is heating up the skilled labor market. Scalable data networks demand a scalable workforce that can provide an optimized experience to every end-user.

Optimizing Existing DSL / Copper Lines

While fiber optic lines might be sexy, short-term upgrades to existing telecom infrastructure may be more cost-effective in limited use-cases. The more modern G.fast DSL standard, conceived in 2010 and presented to the market in 2014[1], is designed to enhance existing copper infrastructure. On distances less than 500 meters (1/3 of a mile), G.fast technology allows for end-users to experience gigabit speeds over a traditional copper line. This is a perfect solution for companies that are rolling out fiber optic lines between drops, but need a cost-effective solution to reduce the bottlenecking on “last mile” lines.

The majority of MSO’s in the United States have installed fiber optic lines within their data infrastructure, relying on coaxial cable or copper lines for the last mile, or connectivity within neighborhoods. It makes sense. Fiber optic lines represent a significant investment If there’s a way to extend the serviceable life of current installations, the savings for a large operator would be in the millions of dollars. In developing markets, it makes sense to leverage lower-cost networks to reach more people.

However, even with technology that enhances DSL infrastructure (vDSL, G.fast, ADSL, ADSL2, etc.), the fragile nature of these enhanced copper lines negate many of the benefits. As data providers utilize higher frequency ranges on existing lines, there is an increased risk that a minor kink or electromagnetic interference will negatively impact real-world performance.

Fiber optic lines are resistant to kinks and are not impacted by electromagnetic interference because the data is transmitted via light instead of current[2]. In addition, fiber optic lines can provide high-bandwidth data transmission across exponentially longer distances without requiring expensive hardware to amplify and filter the signal at regular intervals. To maintain high-bandwidth transmission of data over a significant distance (more than a quarter of a mile), copper / DSL / coaxial infrastructure requires repeaters, amplifier and switches at regular intervals. This hardware needs to be updated with each new iteration of DSL technology, necessitating expensive hardware solutions and increased installation costs.

Google Fiber

While global networks in developing regions will likely rely on DSL technology for the foreseeable future, fiber optic is the undisputed leader in providing gigabit internet connections to homes and offices in economically viable markets. Alphabet, operator of the world’s most popular search engine (Google) has launched a new enterprise called “Google Fiber”. Designed to provide gigabit connections to homes and offices in major metropolitan markets of the United States, the network has placed the conversation surrounding fiber optic technology at the forefront of the consumer space; having successfully launched in five major US markets:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Kansas City, KS
  • Nashville, TN
  • Provo, UT

Google Fiber’s expansion plans include confirmed future expansion to:

  • Charlotte, NC
  • Huntsville, AL
  • Raleigh-Durham, NC
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • San Antonio, TX
  • San Francisco, CA

Google Fiber customers receive a 1 gigabit connection utilizing a direct fiber optic connection for approximately $70 per month. There is also an option to bundle TV and home phone service, making Google a major player in the telecom industry with the potential to disrupt major markets throughout the United States.

Fiber Optic Installation Represents a Challenge for Established Telecoms

The total number of end-to-end fiber optic connections in the United States has increased by more than 10% year-over-year[3]. While this is a strong trend in the right direction, the rate of growth actually lags behind Mexico, Europe and Chile. There are a variety of factors impacting the rate of fiber optic expansion in the United States:

  • Rural markets represent a lower return on investment for ISP’s as there are fewer potential customers per square mile when compared with densely populated urban markets.
  • Large telecoms have internal bureaucracies that slow down the process of rolling out network upgrades that meet individual customer needs.
  • Field Engineers working within telecom teams are centrally located and cannot be easily transitioned from market to market to roll out non-sequential network upgrades.
  • Local, state and federal permitting processes to require cutting through significant red tape in order to implement network changes and upgrades.
  • Short-term upgrades to existing DSL and copper infrastructure may be more cost-effective.

The Benefits of Fiber Optic Installation

While there are certainly challenges, the majority of ISP’s already implementing fiber optic technology in varying degrees. The challenge, as outlined in a previous article, is the market perception that end-to-end fiber optic connections are superior and necessary for an optimal end-user experience. While there is no doubting that fiber optic connections offer dramatically improved bandwidth, will the average consumer see a benefit? This is something where individual consumers need to consider their own habits.

By 2017, according to Business Insider, the average individual with an internet connection will own 5 devices that connect to the internet. If you look around your office, you’ll see the usual suspects: desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets. As you enter the connected home, other devices begin to pop-up. Smart TV’s, video streaming hardware (Apple TV, Amazon Echo, Roku, etc.), and the smart tech that is ushering in the Internet of Things (IoT) all represent an exponential increase in the number of devices we use in our daily lives that rely on internet connections.

According to VentureBeat, “Streaming services now account for over 70% of peak traffic in North America, Netflix dominates with 37%”. As consumers begin to purchase more and more internet-connected devices, the battle for bandwidth will continue to heat up. For consumers and businesses, the upgrade to fiber optic technology isn’t a necessity for individual connections, but it’s critical to supporting multiple internet-connected devices through a single connection. Consumers will absolutely see a benefit from end-to-end fiber optic technology in terms of connection quality and speed if they have multiple devices in use throughout the home or office environment.

Fiber Optic Cable Installation in an Office Environment

For businesses, fiber optic technology has become a major player in providing stable connections throughout the office. Traditional Ethernet lines are great for short distances, but in office environments where the workspace can span multiple stories and thousands of square feet, providing a strong, cost-effective data infrastructure can necessitate fiber-optic speed and reliability. Fiber optic cable installation is more important and the optic cable is significantly more durable and can handle the rigors of installation in an office. Cables that run through drywall and ceiling tiles can bend and kink. When placed next to power lines, or other sources of electromagnetic interference, traditional Ethernet lines can take dramatic performance hits[4].

If you’re considering a major installation or upgrade of your office’s data infrastructure, take a few moments to consider your cable management. I know, it’s tempting to dive in and connect every device to that amazing fiber optic line running into your building, but cables can quickly turn into a tangled mess if improperly planned. If you’re building out an office space, consider the pathways you’ll want your data lines to travel. Once you put pen to paper, you’ll likely discover redundancies where you can reduce the amount of cable required and decrease the overall cost of supplies.

The best solution for fiber optic cable installation in your office is to work with an experienced fiber optic technician in your area. Field Engineer’s hiring platform makes it easy to submit a work order and have installation completed on your schedule. The trained fiber optic technician from FieldEngineer (FE) will take the time to survey your site and provide a recommendation on the layout of your data infrastructure. Working with a professional reduces the likelihood of data bottlenecks and maximizes the return on your investment in a strong, reliable fiber optic office network.

Fiber Optic Installation in Your Home

Your ISP will send a technician out to install your fiber optic service, but their expertise only extends to the line coming into your home, and the setup of a simple home WiFi installation. If you’re comfortable with visible wires running throughout your property, along with potential WiFi dead zones within the home, then taking advantage of the ISP’s technical expertise may be a cost-effective solution.

However, if you want to ensure maximum connectivity throughout your home, without the eye-sore of cables running along the dust boards and ceilings of your home, – you need an experienced fiber optic technician at peak data performance. Fiber optic lines are incredibly powerful, but improper installation can mean unnecessary bottlenecks that rob you of the speed you’re paying for each month.

Telecom Fiber Optic Installation

Companies around the world turn to Field Engineer’s hiring platform to find contractors with the local knowledge and availability to complete infrastructure maintenance and upgrades. Don’t waste time deploying fixed-base team members around the world. Get immediate, on-demand access to local professionals that have a proven track record of completing work on-time and on-budget. With Field Engineer, your company only pays for the expertise that’s needed to complete the job. Avoid travel expenses and expensive downtime by hiring a reliable fiber optic technician that shows up to work when and where you need fiber optic work completed.

Customized, End-To-End Fiber Optic Solutions that Win Customer Loyalty

Your customers face a daily barrage of advertisements from competitors that promise to provide an improved internet and entertainment experience. As reported by CBS News, “Walker-Smith says we’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970’s to as many as 5,000 a day today.” You can bet your bottom dollar that many of these advertisements are centered around how individuals and businesses communicate and access their favorite entertainment.

To keep customers happy, they need a fluid and unencumbered data experience. If their Netflix streaming takes a little bit longer to load, or the video quality isn’t full HD, then they’ll start considering alternative services that promise a better data experience. This is doubly true for enterprise customers, as reliable communication and access to information are the lifeblood of their business.

Your company needs to be proactive and resolve issues in network connectivity before they impact customers. The intense price wars between MSO’s have created an environment where it’s all too easy for customers to simply switch providers. In local markets, there is an increasing amount of ISP competition.

Fiber optic technology needs to be at the forefront of your network upgrade efforts. Positioning your company to promise a customer that their connection is true end-to-end fiber is a powerful marketing opportunity. It negates the incentive for a customer to switch based on technology. As long as a fiber optic system is properly maintained and implemented, the motivation for a customer to cancel their service will be limited to price and customer service.

Don’t let a maxed out team of in-house technicians limit your company’s ability to cater to customers in every market. Utilize Field Engineer’s platform in every market you serve to cost-effectively provide timely upgrades that keep your network ahead of the competition.

The Light at the End of the Cable

In this article we’ve discussed the benefits of transitioning from DSL and cable to fiber optic technology; even with the advances in G.fast DSL and other variations on cable infrastructure. In North America, fiber optic is the new standard that internet customers (both corporate and residential) demand for superior communication and access to entertainment. Fiber optic technology is more powerful, more reliable, and more cost-effective when compared with “enhancing” existing DSL technology on a large scale.

To quickly complete fiber optic upgrades in your market, you can rely on the experts available through Field Engineer’s hiring platform to complete your work quickly and efficiently. Don’t let the competition steal away the customers that you’ve worked so hard to acquire. Give your customer a light at the end of their cable.

[1] http://www.huawei.com/ilink/en/solutions/broader-smarter/morematerial-b/HW_278065

[2] http://www.doc.ic.ac.uk/~nd/surprise_97/journal/vol4/sm27/adv.html

[3] http://www.cnet.com/news/fast-fiber-optic-broadband-spreads-across-developed-world/

[4] http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-things-you-shouldnt-do-when-running-network-cable/

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