3M's Fibrlok NID accelerates single-family FTTH installations

3M has introduced a new network interface device (NID) that will enable installers to accelerate single-family home FTTH installations.

The company said that the Fibrlok Integrated NID, which is equipped with a 3M Fibrlok II Splice 2529 and one attached SC/APC pigtail, can connect a home to a FTTH network in about 8 minutes.

A key element of the product is that it is designed to speed up network installation to residential homes without the need for additional training and new cools.

The Fibrlok splice and pigtail are housed in a protective tray with an integrated splice activation lever, already pre-mounted.  When performing a new FTTH installation, an installer just has to prep the drop cable fiber, insert it into the Fibrlok splice and press the lever.

In order to enable easy access during the installation process, a lid retention mechanism holds the 3M Fibrlok Integrated NID in the open position. It has multiple entry points and stores up to 35 feet of 4.8 mm diameter slack cable. An optional second adapter, splice and pigtail is available for duplex home applications.

Designed to mount unobtrusively on the side of a single family home, the 3M Fibrlok Integrated NID's thermoplastic material is weather resistant with IP43 and IK06 ratings. The device has a place for a tamper-evident security tag to protect the connection after installation.

Dave Cook, marketing development manager for 3M's communications market division, said in developing this product customers were asking for better methods to accelerate the FTTH installation process.

"Shortening installation times was exactly the tact we took when we were developing this NID because we were getting feedback from our customers that they really needed to shorten that time," Cook said in an interview with FierceInstaller. "There are a number of steps in connecting a home and one of those is the installation of the NID. And by integrating products together into a pre-assembled box, we shortened the time it takes for connecting any one single family house."

One of the NID's features is the Fibrlok splice, a mechanical splice that 3M has offered to service providers since the mid-1990s. To date, it has used that technology to install over 10 million splices worldwide.

"We have used that splice to position a pigtail that's pre-assembled into a tray, and the tray not only holds the splice and pigtail in place, but also the lever tool required to make the splice," Cook said. "What that allows the installer to do once they position the NID on the side of the home when they have a fiber drop cable, whether it is underground drop or an aerial drop, they can bring that into the NID, strip off the outer jacket, cleave the fiber and insert it into the Fibrlok."

Because the pigtail that's already inside the NID is already cleaved and in place inside the splice, all an installer has to do is prepare one fiber end.

Cook said that "once they insert it into the splice and see it's contacting the other fiber in the splice they press the lever and they're connected. So it greatly shortens the necessity of shortening the pigtail."

Having more effective ways to wire up FTTH means that large service providers like AT&T (NYSE: T), CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) and even insurgent players like Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) will able to potentially address more locations with their service and scale in more markets.

While this product would be a good fit for large providers, which are making large FTTH installations, 3M is seeing demand within a number of customer segments.

"Our demand is in several customers and it's across the board in that there are large customers deploying this and smaller, regional independents as well. So everybody benefits from this," Cook said. "Certainly the big push is in the big telcos with all of the advertisements on TV from AT&T, Google Fiber and Verizon, because the faster they can deploy the fiber deployment, the sooner they can provide service to the end user and the sooner they start generating they start generating revenues from people buying their services."

For more:
- see the release

Editor's Corner: AT&T, CenturyLink, and Google Fiber gain new edge in FTTH construction processes

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AT&T: Building owners' recognition of fiber services bodes well for installers, service providers

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