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Fast Light can accelerate optical network repair

By Max Burkhalter
October 9, 2012
If you take a casual glance at the results of fiber-to-the-premises infrastructure installation in communities, you will see a lot of discussion about network performance benefits. But you will also stumble upon plenty of stories detailing extended outages created by accidental line breaks. In some cases, a truck will drive through a street and clip the optical cable along the way, cutting the wire and disrupting services. In other instances, a person working in a backyard garden may dig too deep and sever a line with a shovel.

These types of outages are problematic because of costs and service disruption. But they are also troublesome because they are not always easy to identify. In some cases, the broken cable is clearly visible. In others, it is only partially severed - enough to lead to service disruption, but not to leave cables damaged in a way observable without close inspection.

Using advanced technology to identify broken cabling
A new solution is emerging to help network service providers overcome the cabling maintenance and repair problems inherent in FTTx infrastructure. Fast Light, which was developed by UTEL, enables telecoms to automate many of the elements of the repair process, allowing operators to more cost-effectively make repairs.

According to a recent UTEL release detailing the benefits of Fast Light, telecoms typically resolve outages by having technicians drive around a service area looking for damaged lines. After an exhaustive search, the cause of the outage is usually identified and the repair is made. Frank Kaufhold, managing director of UTEL, explained that Fast Light can automate many of the system analysis processes and accelerate the identification of the damaged cabling line.

"Currently, skilled technicians drive around the country with hand held OTDRs trying to locate fibre breaks. This is expensive and ineffective. If this process could be centralized to a contact center, fewer operatives would do the same job much quicker. The business impact of this is quite mind-boggling," said Kaufhold.

Implications for FTTH
As maintenance and repairs become easier and more cost effective, FTTx infrastructure investments could rise. As providers implement more FTTx systems, the need for fiber to Ethernet media converters increases substantially. Media conversion applies interoperability to the optical network, allowing it to interact seamlessly with the copper-based Ethernet systems in most homes and businesses.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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