CommScope: Installers need to be flexible in wiring MDUs with FTTH services

CommScope said that as service providers look to increase fiber penetration into multi-dwelling units (MDUs), service providers and installers will need to be more flexible.

This means that in wiring up any MDU, particularly older buildings, there are challenges that will need to be addressed like dealing with older risers and finding common space to locate equipment and run wires to each office or living space.

"At that last step before the home or inside the MDU, there's more need for different technology options for how to wire up the MDU," said Erik Gronvall, senior manager for PM Fiber Innovation for CommScope, in an interview with FierceInstaller. "No two MDUs are the same and you need to have that tool chest of ideas to bring to bear on that space."

A big piece of CommScope's focus on the MDU space has been bolstered by its acquisition of TE Connectivity's telecom and data equipment business, including its Broadband Network Services assets. A particular strength that this unit brought to CommScope is it enabled them it to expand into adjacent wireline telecom networks and FTTH.

CommScope will also be able to leverage the unit's experience it gained in Europe and Asia where there's a greater concentration of MDUs.

"We always had our Rapid portfolio, which has always done very well for us, taking costs out of deploying in an MDU and increasing the speed of that and adding a few more pieces to that portfolio," Gronvall said. "We're also leveraging our experience over in other markets like, especially in Europe and Asia, where MDUs are more prevalent."

To simplify installation and reduce the cost of taking fiber deeper into both multi-dwelling unit (MDU) and single-family dwelling unit (SFU) environments, CommScope recently introduced three new products: the mini Rapid Fiber distribution terminal (RDT), the mini RDT - indoor model, and the optical wall box (OWB-S).

By leveraging its RapidReel cable spool, the mini RDT can deploy several hundred feet of 3.6 mm indoor/outdoor cable. A key element of the product is RapidReel cable spool, a multi-fiber cable and connector technology that helps installers reduce site survey inspections, streamline cable inventory requirements and speed overall MDU installations.

With the mini RDT - indoor model, an installer can use a single optical fiber cable to feeds the mini RDT, which splits the signal for up to eight available SC plug-and-play adapter ports. When an installer is ready to turn up service, they can use pre-connectorized drops to feed up to eight living units per floor.

Finally, the OWB-S is an outdoor fiber termination solution for connecting FTTH devices, but it can also be used in other outdoor above-ground applications. Designed to handle multiple cable access points for indoor/outdoor applications, the OWB-S offers options for fiber storage, splicing, patching and passive component integration.

Each of these products leverage TE Connectivity's fiber indexing architecture. Unlike traditional FTTH deployments that require labor-intensive engineering and measurement with custom-length fiber cables, CommScope's fiber indexing architecture leverages standardized building blocks -- connectorized and indexed service terminals with hardened multi-fiber optical connectors -- to create a plug-and-play network that is faster and easier to deploy.

The company claims that indexing can reduce the amount of cable required by up to 70 percent. 

Ric Johnsen, senior VP of broadband business unit for CommScope, said that the concern it is trying to address is making FTTH installation simpler.

"The methods and practices of how to run fiber indoors and advance the connectivity in a simple plug and play fashion mean they can't get bogged down in complexity of worrying about fiber splicing and field connectorization," Johnsen said. "That's where the BNS product line has brought a whole new light to their ability to connect faster because it's already pre-terminated we eliminated the craft sensitivity so they can expand."

By making the FTTH build out process simpler via indexing technology, Johnsen said a service provider could connect homes with fewer amount of installers.

"One of the biggest shortages right now is the labor contractors, so the more you can take away that labor as a bottleneck, the better off you are. And that's what this whole solution is about," Johnsen said.

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