Fiber Connectivity for Multi-Dwelling Units

Mike Grice – Deputy General Manager, Amphenol Broadband Solutions.(www.go-asb.com)

Service providers are wise to focus their attention on the high concentration of potential subscribers available in Multi-Dwelling Units (MDU) as the source of new revenues. Given the demand for continuously increasing bandwidth, fiber is the logical choice to extend to each living unit (FTTU).  This article touches on some of the most common challenges in creating MDU fiber architectures. 

Telco Closet Space - It is estimated that there is anywhere from 400,000 to over 1 million structures that house multi-dwelling units in the country.   It is a pretty safe bet that most of them do not include telco closets designed for the proper routing and handling of fiber.  Therefore, fiber splice housings and fiber routing apparatus should make maximum use of available wall space.

Fiber Routing and Management – Every multiple tenant building in the country is unique from all the others.  Those built within the last few years may have anticipated running fiber optics throughout the building, and therefore built adequate conduit space to facilitate the build out.  Older buildings likely will not have a ready solution for getting fiber to all of the living units.  Luckily, there are vendors that are developing unobtrusive solutions to the problem of routing fibers throughout an MDU.  

Many service providers are choosing to run fiber cables throughout a building in what are being called “microducts.”  As the name implies, these miniature conduits protect fibers from damage throughout the fiber run.  One problem noted with this solution is that the transition from microduct to splice enclosure is not easily managed given the variation in microduct tube sizes and the location(s) of entrance ports on the enclosures.  Recently, our company introduced a new product that effectively manages and secures these tubes, while providing a flexible transition point from microduct to wall-mount enclosure. 

Safety First – In all cases, the first consideration when looking to build a fiber network throughout a building must be safety.  Local building and safety codes will dictate how a service provider is going to set up their networks inside of buildings.

 A trend noted recently is the use of closures designed for the outside plant environment actually being used within the confines of a telco closet. Given the ready availability of OSP closures in many service providers’ inventories, it is presumed that this approach is to minimize investment.  While such an approach gets the job done in terms of splice protection and management, it may introduce issues with regards to safety, appearance, and fiber management.  Closures designed for the outside plant typically do not carry the same requirements for fire resistance and other such considerations.  While some are built with flame retardant plastics, these tend to be expensive.  In terms of fiber management, entering an OSP closure typically requires a great deal of effort when compared with a wall-mount indoor enclosure.  Finally, in a crowded telco closet, “neatness counts” to allow for fiber re-arrangements and the addition of new equipment as may be needed.

MDUs represent a real revenue opportunity for network service providers.  
By partnering with a vendor that focuses on the unique needs of this environment, the network operator can assure themselves of a quality deployment that will maximize available space, fit in with the architecture of the MDU, and will be safe for the residents of the building.

This article was created in collaboration with the sponsoring company and our sales and marketing team. The editorial team does not contribute.