As we see the need for a dramatic increase in the amount of bandwidth that is delivered to customers, due to 4K high definition TV, services such as YouTube and other video sharing services, and peer to peer sharing services, we are seeing a rise in FTTx installations or more Fiber To The "x". We all like lightning fast internet and crystal clear pictures on our 70 inch TV's and Fiber To The Home - FTTH is responsible for these little luxuries.
So what is "x"? "x" can stand for the multiple locations that cable TV or broadband services are delivered to such as a Home, Multi Tenant Dwelling, or Office. These types of deployments deliver service directly to the customer premises and this allows for much faster connection speeds and more reliability for the consumers. Depending on the location of your deployment this can change a variety of factors that will ultimately affect the items that you need for your project. Factors that can affect a Fiber To The "x" deployment can be environmental, weather related, or already existing infrastructure that needs to be taken into account when designing the network. In the following sections below, we will go over some of the most common equipment that is utilized within a Fiber To The "x" deployment. There will be variations, different styles, and different manufacturers, but for the most part, all the equipment is pretty standard in a deployment.
Remote Central Office
A pole or pad mounted central office or network interconnection enclosure serves as a remote second location for the service providers that are located on a pole or on the ground. This enclosure is the device that connects the service provider to all the other components in an FTTx deployment; they contain the Optical Line Terminal, which is the endpoint for the service provider and where the conversion from electrical signals to fiber optic signals happens. They are fully equipped with air conditioning, heating units, and a power supply so that they can be protected from the elements. This central office feeds the hub enclosures via outside plant fiber optic cable, either aerial or underground burial cables depending on the location of the central office. This is one of the most critical pieces in an FTTx installment, as this is where it all begins.
Fiber Distribution Hub
This enclosure is designed to be the interconnect or meeting place for fiber optic cables. Cables enter the enclosure from the OLT - Optical Line Terminal and then this signal is split using optical fiber splitters or splitter modules and then sent back through to drop cables that are then sent out to the homes or multi tenant buildings. This unit allows for fast access to the cables so that they can be serviced or repaired if needed. You can also test within this unit to ensure that all the connections are in working order. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes depending on the installation that you are doing and the number of customers that you are planning on serving from a single unit.
Outdoor splice enclosures are placed after the fiber distribution hub. These outdoor splice enclosures allow for the unused outdoor cable to have a passive place that these fibers can be accessed via midspan and then joined to the drop cable.
Splitters are one of the most important players in any FTTx project. They are used to split the incoming signal so that more customers can be serviced with a single fiber. They can be placed within the fiber distribution hubs, or in the outdoor splice enclosures. Splitters are usually connectorized with SC/APC connectors for optimal performance. The splitters can have splits such as 1x4, 1x8, 1x16, 1x32, and 1x64, as FTTx deployments are becoming more common and more telecom companies are adopting the technology. The larger splits are becoming more common to see such as 1x32 or 1x64. These splits really symbolize the number of homes that can be reached by this single fiber that is running to the optical splitter.
Network Interface Devices (NIDs)
Network Interface Devices or NID boxes are usually located on the outside of a single home; they are not usually used in MDU deployments. NID's are environmentally sealed boxes that are placed on the side of a home to allow the optical cable to enter. This cable is usually an outdoor-rated drop cable terminated with an SC/APC connector. NID's normally come with outlet grommets that allow for the usage of multiple cable sizes. There is space within the box for adapter panels and splice sleeves. NID's are fairly inexpensive, and usually smaller in size when compared to an MDU box.
A multi tenant distribution box or MDU box is a wall mountable enclosure that is designed to withstand harsh conditions and allows for multiple incoming fibers, usually in the form of an indoor/outdoor distribution cable, they can also house optical splitters that are terminated with SC/APC connectors and splice sleeves. These boxes are located on every floor of the building and they are split off into single fibers or drop cables that run to each unit on that floor.
A demarcation box usually has two fiber ports that allow for cable. They have built-in splice sleeve holders. These boxes will be utilized within a multi tenant distribution unit, each unit or office space that a building has will have a demarcation box that is connected by a cable to an MDU Box located on the floor of that unit. These are usually fairly inexpensive and small form factor so that they can be easily placed within a unit.
At the end of the day, FTTx deployments are not going anywhere, and these are just some of the items that we could see in a typical FTTx deployment. There are many options out there that can be of use. In the near future, we will only see more and more of these deployments as we see further increases in demand for bandwidth as technology advances. Hopefully, an FTTx deployment will be coming to your area so that you too can enjoy the benefits of having increased network speeds and a higher degree of reliability for your services.