Although the uptake of fibre in residential communities has rapidly progressed, it was found that there are still a few burning questions in the industry around aspects to the offerings and deployment. Estate Living sheds some light on the matter with Frans Verwoerd – GM FibreSuburbs Network
Q: What makes up a fibre network?
A: Fibre network is made up of several components but basically four categories:
The Access Network (or “Last Mile”) which is the fibre that gets laid in a suburb or gated community. On greenfield developments, it is ideal that this infrastructure be installed by the developer. In apartments, this can consist of cable trays or conduit
The Home Drop, which is the section of fibre which connects a living unit (House / Apartment / Townhouse) to the Access network
The Backhaul , which is the fibre , sometimes kilometres of it which connects the access network to peering datacentre where various ISP’s and other service providers connect to the network
Active electronic equipment (“Headend”) located at network room or central point of presence (pop) where the data signal is injected into the fibre, and an Fibre termination unit (ONT/ONU/Router) installed in the subscriber’s house
Q: The architecture of your fibre network is key, what are some of the key components that make up a ’successful network’?
A: As with any engineering project, two components must be considered to make up a “successful network”
Cost effectiveness: Building a fibre network is a large investment and as such short-term cost savings vs long term cost needs to be evaluated, an example is that it may be much cheaper to use old overhead streetlight poles to run fibre cable, but this method needs regular maintenance vs the more expensive and preferred method of trenching.
Maintainability and Reliability: Fibre equipment containing lasers are very sensitive to receiving a high-quality signal, and therefore requires fibre installations to be done by qualified technicians, needs to be properly tested to international standards and properly documented for future maintenance purposes
Q: Installing a new network at an estate under development and retro fitting an established estate, how do these processes differ?
A: As 60-70% of the cost of a fibre network is the cost of civils work ( trenching and reinstatement) it is always much cheaper to work in a new development .
Q: What services can run on a fibre network?
A: Fibre network must be open access , meaning that multiple service providers (not just internet service providers can provide services . for example a single house can get Internet from their favourite ISP , telephone services from a Telco , Video streaming via Video streaming service such as Google TV or Netflix and can have a security system which is monitored by an offsite service provider – thus 4 services on one fibre
Q: We are finding more and more that, once the homeowner is connected their wireless router does not support the speed of fibre or the range required to reach parts of the home?
A: Unlike 3G /LTE , Wi-Fi Coverage uses a frequency that does not penetrate Brick walls and concrete floors well. Various Wi-Fi repeaters and power line extenders are available but have limited success. New wireless mesh technology are becoming less expensive but for now the best is to use one or two of the router Lan ports and to hard cable into additional Wi-Fi Points installed in areas with poor coverage.
Q: What is the future of Fibre?
A: Large investments are being made in metro areas and suburbs with old copper infrastructure. In future developers will need to work with fibre companies to make sure they provide infrastructure in which companies can install fibre to make it cheaper to build and reduce overall capex , which again will reduce monthly availability cost . The next wave will be secondary cities and towns which have to date been widely overlooked.