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Why FTTH is good for multi dwelling units

Posted: 08 Dec 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Multi Dwelling Units  MDU  P2MP  P2P  FTTH 

The popularity of services that require high quality such as IPTV, HDTV, video-on-demand, video telephony and video conferencing is ever increasing. These services require ever higher bandwidths and faster download and upload speeds.

Indeed, old technologies are reaching the limits of their performance, so new solutions are needed and network infrastructures must adapt to meet these growing demands. In the outside plant network, this means that fibre optic cables are gradually replacing copper cabling deeper in the access network.

Multi Dwelling Units (MDUs) play a central role in these developments. The high density of end users in these buildings makes them potentially profitable; however strategies to connect an MDU to the network depend on many things. For example, tapping the MDU market requires detailed knowledge of local conditions, including regulatory issues. Diverse communication structures have developed over time in each EU country, and there are numerous regulations and prerequisites that must be observed.

Deploying in a particular neighbourhood or connecting to any particular building depends, too, also depends on whether an existing infrastructure is to be updated, or whether the building and its neighbourhood are newly built. To anticipate and respond to the multitude of connection scenarios, flexible and adaptable solutions are essential – solutions that can be easily adjusted to the requirements of a specific environment.

In Europe, major service providers most commonly deploy Point-to-Multi-Point (P2MP) fibre optic networks. When take rates increase, splitters are often added to connect customers, and so-called "plug-and-play" solutions based on fibre optic connectors are used to provision services.

Municipalities and smaller city carriers tend to favour Point-to-Point (P2P) networks, often with permanent splice structures. Due to the diverse requirements of different connection scenarios, there is no best option; rather, both technologies, splicing and connectorisation, must complement each other in a flexible, complete solution that fits the project in question.

MDUs are of vital interest for FTTH carriers
According to reports, more people live in MDUs than in any other type of home, with more than 35 per cent worldwide being flat homes. In Europe, this number is even higher (about 50 per cent) and in larger European cities more than 70 per cent of the people live in MDUs.

In dense residential areas, MDUs with three to eight stories constitute the majority of the buildings and there are often 24 living units per block, on average. Furthermore, commercial areas are often situated alongside or among blocks of flats, while detached and semi-detached houses are sometimes neighboured with small/mid-sized companies.

Broadband service providers can supply a large number of end customers within a small area. As the living density is high in MDU environments, the relative cost to deploy FTTH in MDUs is lower compared to individual residences, although the cost is strongly dependent on the building circumstances.

A density increase from 4000 people/kmý to 8000 people/kmý reduces the cost of civil engineering and cable installation cost by 30 per cent (iDATE). However, to implement a fibre optic solution, a coherent and complete concept which can be adapted to various connection scenarios is required.

The access area
MDUs are linked from the exchange either directly using a dedicated fibre for each customer or using splitters in enclosures in the field or building. The structure of the fibre optic network generally follows that of the existing copper infrastructure. In the route to the MDU, the gas and water supply channels running beneath the road are often nearing full capacity.

Feeding in additional cables for the FTTH infrastructure may be difficult and often requires costly excavation work. If empty conduits or ducts are available, fibre optic cables can be blown into them over several hundred metres (using blown-fibre injection technique). Open-air cabling to the building is not usually considered, although this is commonplace in many countries.

Distributor design
The way in which the fibre optic cables are laid, terminated and stored has a direct influence on the performance, lifespan and economic efficiency of a network. Cable management is subsequently of great importance and determines the network's flexibility to adapt to future requirements.

Depending on priorities, a network operator can decide to use a connectorised/factory pre-terminated approach, splicing or a combination of both. Connectors and optical splitter solutions guarantee faster provisioning and network upgrades (e.g. splitter PON to WDM PON). Splicing is used for example if a connection is difficult to reach or if a lack of space prevents the use of a cabinet with a cross-connect function.

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