Clearfield is bringing its fiber expertise to the 5G world. The company, which competes with CommScope and Corning, is probably best-known for its fiber-optic cabinets and connectors that it sells to both incumbent and competitive local exchange carriers for their fiber-to-the-home deployments.
Clearfield is introducing a portfolio of fiber management products called StreetSmart that are designed to be used in 5G deployments. Called StreetSmart Fiber Hand-Off Box, the company’s first product in the portfolio can be used for backhaul, which carries wireless traffic from the cell site to the switch, or fronthaul, which carries traffic from the baseband unit to the remote radio head. It can also be used for mid-haul, which carries traffic between the distributed unit and the centralized unit.
Clearfield Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Morgan said the company is expanding into the 5G market but using the same strategy that it developed with its fiber-to-the-home deployments. That means it is focused solely on fiber management and connections.
Morgan said that the Hand-Off Box makes it easy for installers to access fibers and connectors. This is important, he added, because in many 5G small cell deployments operators are using technicians that are trained in RF or copper coax but aren’t as well-versed in fiber. “The advances in fiber have come a long way,” Morgan said, adding that installers no longer have to splice fiber at every point in the network but can instead use a connector that can be deployed in the field.
“We think that what has been overlooked with fiber is the need for a repeatable process for clear fiber that is something anyone can work with,” Morgan said. “If every connection had to be fiber spliced you would need a field technician with splicing training and thousands of dollars of equipment.”
The Hand-Off Box is only 13x8x3 inches and can be deployed in a lot of different scenarios from being mounted on a monopole to being deployed on a pedestal. The box also allows fiber providers to scale up to 48 fibers of LC/UPC connectivity.