The emergence of high-bandwidth services such as 4K/8K video, livestreaming, telecommuting, and online education in recent years is changing people's way of life and stimulating the growth of bandwidth demand. Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) has become the most mainstream broadband access technology, with huge amounts of fiber deployed worldwide every year. Compared with copper networks, fiber networks feature higher bandwidth, more stable transmission, and lower operation and maintenance (O&M) costs. When building new access networks, fiber is the first choice. For copper networks already deployed, operators have to find a way to carry out fiber transformation efficiently and cost-effectively.
Fiber Slicing Poses Challenges to FTTH Deployment
A common problem faced by operators in an FTTH deployment is that the optical distribution network (ODN) has a long construction period, causes great engineering difficulties, and incurs a high cost. Specifically, ODN accounts for at least 70% of FTTH construction costs and more than 90% of its deployment time. In terms of both efficiency and cost, ODN is the key to FTTH deployment.
ODN construction involves a lot of fiber splicing, which requires trained technicians, specialized equipment, and a stable operating environment. The efficiency and quality of fiber splicing is closely related to the skills of the technicians. In regions with high labor costs and for operators lacking trained technicians, fiber splicing presents big challenges to FTTH deployment and therefore hinders operators' efforts in fiber transformation.
Pre-connectorization Solves the Problem of Fiber Splicing
ZTE has launched its pre-connectorized ODN solution to enable efficient and low-cost construction of fiber networks. As part of ZTE's Light ODN solution, the pre-connectorized CDN solution is centered on replacing the traditional complicated fiber splicing operations with pre-connectorized adapters and connectors to make construction more efficient and cost-effective. The pre-connectorized CDN solution includes a series of indoor and outdoor pre-connectorized optical fiber distribution boxes (ODBs) as well as prefabricated optical cables. Based on the traditional ODB, the pre-connectorized ODB adds pre-connectorized adapters on its outside. The prefabricated optical cable is made by adding pre-connectorized connectors to a traditional optical cable. With the pre-connectorized ODB and prefabricated optical cable, technicians do not have to perform splicing operations when connecting fibers. They only need to insert a connector of the cable into an adapter of the ODB.
Pre-connectorization Helps Operators Build Networks Efficiently
ZTE's pre-connectorized ODN solution (Fig. 1) features plug and play, simplified construction, flexible deployment, and easy O&M to assist operators in building FTTH networks efficiently.
—Simplified engineering to save construction time:
The pre-connectorized ODN solution does not require trained splicing technicians or specialized splicing equipment. Fiber connection is simple plug-and-play and does not involve any splicing throughout the process, thereby cutting construction time by at least 50% and boosting overall deployment efficiency by 30% at a minimum.
—"All-weather" products to achieve flexible deployment:
Drawing on its years of experience in fiber network construction, ZTE has developed a full range of indoor and outdoor pre-connectorized products that cover different scenarios of fiber networks. The products can be flexibly selected to implement optimum coverage in different scenarios. In outdoor settings, one pre-connectorized product supports multiple installation modes including overhead, pole-mounted, wall-mounted, and buried deployment. The pre-connectorized connectors have the IP68-rated water and dust resistance to ensure the reliability of fiber connections in severe weather conditions.
—Modular design to facilitate O&M:
Every ODB is designed as an integrated whole with splitters pre-installed inside. The ODB can be deployed, operated and maintained without being opened on-site, thus improving its reliability and reducing O&M difficulty.
—Industry's first connector that supports blind mating and self-locking:
ZTE's pre-connectorized connector and adapter use a unique mechanical design to enable blind mating. Technicians do not have to visually observe and match adapters and connectors. The connector is automatically guided to and aligned with the adapter to complete the mating operation. This mechanism decreases operating difficulty, increases insertion efficiency by 80%, and prevents the connector from being damaged by misaligned insertion. After the connector is inserted, the lock on the connector automatically rotates to fasten the connector to the adapter. This simplifies the operating procedure and avoids the connector falling off during construction.
ZTE's pre-connectorized ODN solution, which won a Lightwave Innovation Award in March 2021, has gained close attention and widespread recognition from the industry. The solution has been deployed on a large scale in many countries and regions, including in Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia. It has helped operators build networks in an efficient, low-cost manner and has greatly accelerated their fiber transformation.