Interestingly, this topic has many acronyms to define it: FTTH: fiber to the home - bringing fiber all the way to the home of the subscriber FTTP: fiber to the premises - samd thing, different term, also encompasses businesses FTTC: fiber to the curb (with wire into the home) FTTN: Fiber to the node (with wire into the home) FTTx: to refer to all types or for those who can’t decide what to call it! Fiber to the home or fiber to the premises are the same thing, although “premises” was probably chosen to indicate the user could be a business as well as a household. Anyway, the idea is to bring fiber to the end user and offer high bandwidth services not available otherwise. For the purposes of this presentation, we will use FTTH for FTTH or FTTP
FTTH is mostly a telco issue Telcos have many aging cable plants that cannot support DSL but it is too expensive to replace old copper with new copper just for POTS (plain old telephone service.) However, the aging copper is expensive to maintain. Some analysts also claim that FTTH maintenance costs are so much lower than keeping the current copper network going provides up to 2/3 of the financial benefits of FTTH - much greater than the revenue enhancements! CATV companies have HFC networks in place and have the ability to bring gigabit signals to the home, although some are looking at replacing the coax drop to the home with fiber. Competitive carriers now install their own fiber since FCC rules have changed and they cannot be assured of access to competitive carriers cable plants. Telcos are fighting for exclusive rights where others, such as municipalities or utilities are trying to install FTTH, even if the telcos are not immediately planning on running FTTH themselves.
Besides the telcos, several other groups are attempting to install FTTH. Municipalities: Some of the first FTTH systems were installed by cities - progressive ones like Palo Alto did it at the request of their high-tech citizens, some did it to entice businesses to move there, like Anaheim, some did it (or are trying to) because they were not pleased with the service of telcos or CATV companies. The latter often found the telcos or CATV companies to be formidable opponents who did not always play fair! Most municipal FTTx projects use rights of way available to the city through city-owned utilities. Utilities: Owning rights of way to the home convinced some utilities to try FTTH or FTTC. Ethernet over power lines is becoming a option for power companies who can use power lines for the final connection to the home. FTTx is even becoming real for rural customers through rural electrical cooperatives. CLECs (Competitive Local Exchange Carriers) install their own networks and can then sell connections to anyone they pass, but mostly focus on businesses which spend much more money on communications than households. Private companies: There are private companies that will build municipal FTTH networks under an agreement with the city, similar to CATV agreements. In addition, some contractors building large subdivisions or apartments are installing FTTH with the assumption that they can connect with telecommunications companies for services to resell. FTTH is a considered a battleground by telcos and CATV companies: Whenever a city or private company proposes to install FTTH, they can expect to have to deal with the legal, advertising and technical staff of the current telco or CATV company. Cities have found themselves in court or in battles where they are outspent by 100 to 1 in advertising in an attempt by the local telcos and CATV companies to defeat competitive systems. Photo: James Hettrick, Loma Linda, CA, which runs its own FTTH network.
Where is the bulk of telephone cabling? It may not be where you think! Only 10% is in long distance networks, which were the first links converted to fiber - years ago. Another 10% is local loop (metropolitan) connecting central offices and switches - now mostly converted to fiber too. Fully 80% of all telco cabling is subscriber loop - the “last mile” that connects the end user to the system. After 20 years of fiber optic installations, virtually all long distance and local loop connections are already fiber. Only the “last mile” is still copper, and much of it is very old and incapable of carrying modern high bandwidth digital signals. Is FTTH just completing the system to make it all fiber?
We recognize five changes in the current telco environment that are affecting attitudes toward FTTH: Telcos are losing broadband customers to CATV Telcos are losing landline customers to cell phones and VoIP New services are becoming available Fiber optic components are getting less expensive Regulations changed sharing issues New Technology makes FTTH cheaper - comparable in cost to copper solutions, lower in cost per bandwidth and with lower operating expenses. We’ll look at each of these in more detail. Read on…
Many telcos are realizing that the alternatives to FTTH are inadequate for future bandwidth needs: DSL won’t have the bandwidth over most installed copper Wireless won’t have the bandwidth, and the spectrum may not be affordable BPL (broadband over power lines) won’t have the bandwidth If the alternatives do not offer the bandwidth, they cannot be cost effective. Many are realizing that eventually they will have to go FTTH, so why put off the inevitable? In California, AAA advertises “Someday, you’ll break down and join AAA.” Maybe that should be adapted to be the motto of FTTH!
Who Wants FTTx? Homeowners: for high speed Internet access and video downloads Home Builders FTTx adds value to their homes FTTx provides a reason to provide structured cabling inside the home These two reasons can add $7,500 to $15,000 to the value of a home! Hardware Providers who want to sell equipment to build the networks and install in the homes as well as structured cabling companies who participate in a market that is about $2500 per home! Service Providers: IPTV, HDTV, video on demand, etc. Those who want to offer video services are most happy with FTTx as nothing provides the same bandwidth!
FTTH is gaining momentum RVA estimates that one million homes were connected with fiber, as of September, 2006 of 6 million homes passed, still a very small number compared to the 100 million or so subscriber lines. Verizon estimates 5,000,000 new FTTH connections for the year. It should be noted that the US is not a leader in FTTx deployments. Approximately 80% of all worldwide FTTx connections are in Japan as of mid-2006 and China and Korea are actively developing FTTx programs. Europe, where DSL works over most of their short urban lines, is not aggressively pursuing FTTx. However the pace is increasing, with operating companies hiring personnel for FTTx installations at a growing rate, indicating a strong commitment to FTTx.
What’s In It ForContractors? Contractors are doing FTTx installs for Verizon and others in many parts of the country. While few electrical contractors do residential electrical, homes with structured cabling offer double the work and potential profit! There is about $2500 in structured cabling in a new home in CA. Contractors can increase their revenue by doing hardware installs too. FTTx will affect the commercial fiber market - fiber is cheaper! Bosses being asked for budget for an upgrade to expensive new copper cabling will wonder why they are installing more copper when the phone companies are using fiber!
One estimate by Optical Solutions shows this breakdown on the cost of a FTTH network. Cost decisions are interactive. For example, one wonders if the splitters and WDMs are worth the savings in fiber, but adding more fiber would increase installation and thereby construction costs, so it is assumed that they do indeed save costs. Once cannot overemphasize the importance of labor costs - it is the dominant factor - and anything that reduces labor, like preterminated cabling, deserves consideration.
FTTH Architectures Home run - fiber from CO to every home, offers the most flexibility but at the highest cost as no electronics are shared. A good solution for small developments or rural connections. Active star - local switch then fiber to every home, highly flexible, but simply moves the electronics closer to the home, saving only a small amount in cabling costs. Think of it as fiber to the curb with the curb to home on fiber too. Passive optical network (PON) - use splitter near customer share fiber to CO. Not only does it share fiber, it shares electronics, using one transmitter at the CO for up to 32 homes, greatly reducing connection costs. Basic PON architectures are widely used because they are usually the least expensive way of implementing FTTH. WDM PON - PON but with each customer or location having a specified wavelength. Again highly flexible, but more expensive and harder to manage. All FTTH networks are based on standard SM fiber(ITU G.652), also called dispersion unshifted or non-dispersion shifted fiber. The only fiber option normally considered is to use low-water vapor fiber that removes the water peak at 1400 nm.
A home run architecture uses a direct fiber run from the CO to the customer. Each is a full duplex optical link, making this generally more expensive from the standpoint of fiber and electronics requirements. It is used in some small systems, like gated communities, sometimes with 2 fibers, one digital for Internet and VoIP, the other for analog CATV. Some people refer to this as a P2P or point-to-point network.
An active star network uses fiber from the central node (CO) to a local active node carrying multiplexed signals to be distributed to all the customers. At the active node, (electronic) switching occurs for each customer and connects to a dedicated optical link to the premises. This may be a more expensive network due to the electronics and powering required, as the node requires uninterruptible local power if support of services like 911 are required, or cheaper for small networks that do not need the size or capability of a PON network. Each system needs to be considered carefully in light of all options.
The passive optical network (PON) uses optical couplers, both wavelength division multiplexers and simpler splitter/combiners, to allow connection of many customers over only one fiber from the CO - like broadcasting TV or radio over air waves. Thus a few fibers can support many customers, typically up to 32 customers on one fiber from the CO to the local splitter. A PON using wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) can be used two ways: It can provide every customer with a dedicated wavelength, greatly expanding bandwidth to any one customer, but a a much greater cost. A more popular option is to use WDM to send multiple services, usually voice data and video, as well as upstream signals, over a single fiber, as shown in the slides following. Upstream data from multiple subscribers is time-division multiplexed so each subscriber has a time window to send data back to the system. Some people refer to this as a P2MP or point-to-multipoint network.
An alternative to FTTH/P is “fiber to the curb.” FTTC brings fiber to the neighborhood and installs a local switch usually in or near a current pedestal. The fiber replaces the copper from the pedestal to the CO, using only the short copper run from the pedestal to the customer premises to make the final connection. Using DSL over these short lengths of copper allows higher bandwidth than a direct CO connection, allowing more flexibility in services offered. A new Ethernet standard for Ethernet in the first mile (802.3ah) is possible for use here with higher capability than current DSL. In addition, if sufficient fibers are installed from the CO to the pedestal at the time of a FTTC upgrade, the system can be converted to a FTTH PON system at a later date by running drop cables to each customer. Equipment is available for this system that places a local switch near a previous pedestal that is only a copper connection point. A new fiber is brought to the pedestal and the CO to pedestal connection is moved to fiber. The subscriber is then connected to the new fiber switch. In some systems, the power for the fiber switch is sent from the CO over the old copper phone cable.
Here is the architecture being used by Verizon for triple play services. First the acronyms: EDFA = erbium doped fiber amplifier WDM = wavelength division multiplexing FDF = fiber distribution frame FDH = fiber distribution hub ONT = optical network terminal OLT = optical line terminal The concept is to use WDM ( wavelength division multiplexing) to send bi-directional signals at different wavelengths on only one fiber. Current systems use: 1490 nm for TDM (time division multiplexed) digital voice and data from the CO to the home 1310 nm for TDM (time division multiplexed) digital voice and data from the home to the CO 1550 nm for analog video to the home Downstream, each home has a digital address and only receives information specifically addressed to it. Upstream, it has a TDM time slot for sending data back to the system. This ensures each home receives only the data specific for its usage. Signals are distributed to a neighborhood on one fiber, then split with a passive coupler in the FDH to individual fibers going to each house. If sufficient fibers are already in place, the video can be sent on a separate fiber, so each home is connected with two fibers. While this means WDM is not needed, a second set of splitters is needed in addition to the additional fibers. Supposedly Verizon, AT&T (SBC and Bellsouth) have agreed to make this single fiber version a standard architecture.
FDH - fiber distribution hub in a pedestal PON networks have some unique needs for components, like this FDH - fiber distribution hub. Here a pedestal has inputs and outputs for feeder and distribution cables, shelves for splitters and a patch panel to allow flexibility in terminations. In ways, it is like a passive copper pedestal, as PONs do not require power in the pedestal.
Splice Closures FTTx applications often need special splice closures, for example to allow a distribution cable to split out fibers for individual homes and continue to another drop point. In this splice closure end-cap, each port can accommodate a feeder cable in and out, plus three ports for numerous drop cables. Also each port can be accessed without disturbing previously installed cables. The closure on the right allows for four weatherproof connections to preterminated drop cables using weatherized fiber optic connectors. Some FTTH installations are using preterminated cable assemblies with closures such as this instead of field termination or splicing, with claims that it saves time and may be more cost effective. As we said earlier, each network needs an individual analysis to determine the most cost-effective solution.
ONT - Optical Network Terminal Optical network terminals generally mount on the outside of the customer premises and provide voice, data and video feed to the home. Larger units are used for businesses and apartments. Sometimes, ONTs are installed indoors and some look similar to a cable modem or router. ONTs can be connected to the network by splicing or connectors, but connectors are generally favored for their simplification of testing and troubleshooting. Connectors may be spliced on drop cables or prepolished/splice connectors can be used on the cables. Many vendors are developing preterminated cable assemblies with weatherproof connectors as the simplified installation can save costs over field termination. ONTs contain transmitters and receivers for the optical fiber connections and electronics to drive phone, Internet and TV connections in the home. Thus each ONT needs powering at the home. Powering ONTs is an issue, since customers expect phone service to not be interrupted by power outages, a consequence of over a century of phones being powered from the central office. Now most ONTs are powered from the customer’s AC power and include an uninterruptible power supply to maintain service during power outages.
Current Status of Fiber To The User
Created By Jim Hayes, VDV Academy
For The Fiber Optic Association
Presented at The NECA Show, Boston, 2006
What is FTTx?
• FTTH: fiber to the home
• FTTP: fiber to the
• FTTC: fiber to the curb
• FTTN: Fiber to the node
• FTTx: for those who can’t
decide what to call it or
are referring to all
What is FTTx?
• Mostly a telco issue
– Telcos have many aging
– CATV companies have
HFC networks in place
– Competitive carriers now
install own fiber
– Telcos fighting for
Who Competes With Telcos
In Implementing FTTx?
Battleground for telcos
and CATV companies
Where is the fiber?
• Where is the bulk of telephone cabling?
– 10% is long distance
– 10% is local loop (metropolitan)
– 80% is subscriber loop
• Long distance and local loop are
virtually all fiber
• Is FTTx just completing the system?
Why FTTx? Why Now?
• Telcos are suffering with aging copper
• Telcos are losing broadband customers to
CATV and landline customers to cell
phones and VoIP
• New services are becoming available to
enhance revenue - and customers
• Regulations changed sharing issues
• New technology (PON) and cheaper
components makes FTTx cheaper
Why FTTx? Why Now?
• Many telcos are realizing that
the alternatives to FTTx are
inadequate for future bandwidth
– DSL won’t have the bandwidth
– Wireless won’t have the bandwidth
– BPL won’t have the bandwidth
• Eventually they will have to go
FTTx, so why put off the
Who Wants FTTx?
• Homeowners: for high speed Internet
access and video downloads
• Home Builders: FTTx adds value (and
profit) to their homes
• Hardware Providers
• Service Providers: IPTV, HDTV, video
FTTx is gaining momentum
• US: 6 million
• Still a drop in the
• Data from Render,
What’s In It For Contractors?
• Contractors are doing FTTx installs for
Verizon and others
• While few electrical contractors do
residential electrical, homes with
structured cabling offer double the work
and potential profit!
• FTTx will affect the commercial fiber
market - fiber is cheaper!
• Home run - fiber from CO to every
• Active star - local switch then fiber to
• Passive optical network (PON) - use
splitter near customer share fiber to CO
• WDM PON - PON but with each
customer having a specified wavelength
• All based on standard SM fiber
FTTx Is Driving
• Driven by FTTH, building
codes, customer demand
and builder profits
• More diverse than
• TIA 570A+
The FOA Supports FTTx
• New certification for
• Training program
materials for FOAapproved schools
• Helping recruit FTTx
For more information, contact:
The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.
1119 S Mission Road #355, Fallbrook, CA 92028
Tel: 1-760-451-3655 Fax: 1-781-207-2421