Plastic optical fiber finds niche as inexpensive in-home networking solution

The rise of the connected home and the demand for over-the-top video are driving the need for better in-home cabling solutions, including plastic optical fiber (POF).

Jim Hayes, president of the Fiber Optic Association, said that POF is a solid choice for short-distance networking. However, he added that POF is a niche solution because he is unaware of any particular growth in POF as a home-networking solution.

Hayes added that POF is often used for home decoration, such as Christmas lighting, and pointed to other uses of POF, like in cars and robotics. However, he cautioned that POF has high signal loss compared to conventional optical fiber and said that POF should only be used for short distances.

The HomeGrid Forum believes that a variety of cabling solutions can help facilitate IP services, including plastic optical fiber, phoneline, coaxial and powerline wiring. "More and more people are choosing to opt out of traditional broadcast TV in favor of all-IP services," said Donna Yasay, president of the HomeGrid Forum. "And they generally no longer have just one entertainment point or Internet outlet in the home--it's more likely to be one in every room."

Alex Phillips, a board member of the Wireless Internet Service Provider Association (WISPA), noted that POF is a low-cost option within the home, as this kind of cable can be purchased at stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot. 

Indeed, a glance at specialty website Fiber Optics For Sale indicates the retailer has POF available for $1.50 per meter.

For more:
- see this release from the HomeGrid Forum

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Home networks are mixed bag for telcos

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