Ting says existing city networks accelerate FTTH builds

two utility workers setting up a fiber cabinet on a sidewalk
New methods and existing backbone networks allow Ting to quickly scale network deployments.

Ting has set an aggressive timeline to expand its FTTH footprint across multiple markets, but the service provider is finding new methods and existing backbone networks allow it to quickly scale network deployments. 

In markets like Holly Springs, North Carolina, where it just began to connect neighborhood residents with its 1 Gbps FTTH service, the city’s existing fiber backbone was a clear plus.

“The town of Holly Springs built its own fiber backbone, so we’re leasing some of the backbone and building off of it,” said Adam Eisner, VP of networks for Ting Internet, in an interview with FierceTelecom. “That means we did not have to go in and build a backbone through the middle of town.”

Eisner added that Ting still has to build fiber into each neighborhood and then install a fiber drop and the optical network terminal (ONT) at the customer’s home.

RELATED: Ting to connect Holly Springs, N.C. homes with FTTH by end of 2016

“To get into every neighborhood, we still had to go and construct that ourselves,” Eisner said.

The service provider initially revealed its plans to bring its FTTH services to Holly Springs in October 2015. Taking a page from Google Fiber’s Fiberhood playbook, Ting assessed and mapped by way of $9 customer preorders.

In June 2016, Ting announced that construction was about to begin in Phase 1, encompassing the neighborhoods of Holly Glen, Braxton Village and Holly Pointe.

Now that the first phase of construction is complete, Ting has begun the second phase, which will focus on Oak Hall, Windcrest, Morgan Park and Windward Pointe. 

Besides North Carolina, the service provider plans to offer service in the Sandpoint, Idaho, area as well as to residents in the communities of Sandpoint, Dover, Ponderay and Kootenai. Ting has already launched FTTH service in Charlottesville, Virginia, followed by Westminster, Maryland. 

Fiber blowing eases installation

Having access to an existing backbone fiber network in Holly Springs was just one element the service provider had at its disposal to ease fiber network installations.

The service provider is also using blown fiber, a process that uses air to push the microfiber through a duct.  

“We blew a lot of the fiber,” Eisner said. “Fiber blowing as a deployment technique is still kind of new in North America.”

Eisner added that “after watching service providers in Europe use fiber blowing, we gave it a shot and it’s worked very well.”

Ting has varied deployment approaches, including a mix of underground and aerial poles across the initial markets where it offers service.

“In Holly Springs it’s entirely underground which was new to us as an organization; it worked out very well,” Eisner said.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, the network is all on aerial utility poles, while in Westminster, Maryland, Ting is just operating the network the city already built.

Flexible home configurations

When it connects each home to the network, Ting has looked at installing the ONT either outside or inside the home.

In the neighborhoods it has targeted for buildouts, Ting will pass every home with fiber and only connect a home when they order service.

“We have deployed enough capacity to hook up anybody in a neighborhood, but we don’t build a drop to your house until you sign up for service,” Eisner said. “We build an underground drop to the side of your home and put the ONT inside.”

Eisner said that while there are various camps on whether to install an ONT inside or outside of a home, Ting found it has various options at its disposal.

“There are some real philosophies on whether you should use an indoor or outdoor ONT,” Eisner said. “When we bought Blue Ridge Networks in Virginia, they tried it both ways and settled on bringing it indoors.”

After initially using a converged ONT and residential gateway (RG), Ting found that customers wanted separate units.

This allows customers to have more flexibility in how they deploy a Wi-Fi network and other devices in their homes to connect to the internet and stream video content.

“We found that people seemed happier if we separate it out,” Eisner said. “We put the ONT on the inside and giving people the option of using an RG we provide or allowing the consumer to bring their own.”