Note: As part of its 40th anniversary observance, the CommScope team set out to identify the top 40 innovations that have come from CommScope (or one of its acquired companies) over the past 40 years. We are unveiling the innovations chosen for the Top 40 on CommScope Blogs through early January. Read more about the overall program and selection process in this November 4 post.
We continue today with our unveiling of innovations—in alphabetical order—that are ranked 11-20. You can see a list of the Top 40 innovations already revealed on our 40th anniversary page. As our 40th anniversary year draws to a close, we hope you enjoy looking back at what we think are our top innovations—ones that have helped build the world’s infrastructure of today and tomorrow.
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Top 40 Innovations—Grouping 11-20
FDH and Splitters
Definition: An FDH is a fiber distribution hub -- a
neighborhood-based, centralized component where the optical signal from the
Central Office is split onto individual fibers to serve specific properties in
Year of Innovation: 2003
What is the
innovation that CommScope or one of its acquired companies was first in
CommScope introduced its fiber distribution hub (FDH) in
2003 as fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments were taking off among broadband
providers. The development of the FDH was a key enabler for the growth of FTTH
networks. The FDH is a neighborhood-based, centralized cabinet where the
optical signal from the Central Office is split onto individual fibers to serve
specific properties in the area. CommScope also offers splitters in various
split ratios (1:8, 1:16, 1:32, for example), enabling provider technicians to choose
the split ratio that matched their current subscribers’ needs. As FTTH take
rates grew, technicians could add splitters or change split ratios to meet the
increased demand. Over time, CommScope rolled out pole-mounted, ground-mounted,
and underground FDH products to address varying customer needs.
What was happening in
the market that this innovation was needed?
The outside plant cross-connect cabinets that were used
prior to the emergence of the FDH did not lend themselves to be properly
configured for FTTH. These older cross-connect cabinets weren’t placed as
deeply in the network, and they used 1:1 connection ratios between fibers in
the field and fibers in the Central Office. As a result, using cross-connects
required providers to pre-deploy fiber and turn those fibers up with central
office equipment before they had subscribers. This method filled the space in
expensive optical line terminals (OLTs) and cards in the Central Office.
Before the FDH splitters appeared, splitters were spliced
into the network haphazardly – there was no systematic way to deploy them, and
providers needed to use splicing technicians with specialized expertise. This
kind of splicing was time-consuming, labor-intensive and costly. The FDH was
designed to be FTTH specific, providing a secure outside plant interface for
fiber splitters and distribution. The FDH packages splitters in a form where
they could be added inside the FDH at any time. Technicians could quickly swap
out splitters inside the FDH as higher split ratios were needed.
How did this
innovation benefit customers and the industry?
The FDH enabled customers to build out FTTH networks quicker
and at lower cost because it uses a modular architecture and saves a lot of up-front
capital expense. With the FDH, providers don’t have to pre-assign dozens of
fibers to a specific location because they can use splitters in the field to
plug in the fibers they needed as subscribers signed up, rather than having dozens
of dedicated fiber circuits serving each location in advance of subscriber
Did this innovation
act as the springboard for other innovations, and if so, how do they all tie
The FDH has evolved over time. ADC, FONS and TE Connectivity
had competing products, and CommScope acquired all of these product lines over
time, incorporating innovations such as plug-and-play splitters, swing frames
and underground FDH systems.
What is the
significance of the innovation for CommScope?
CommScope, through its acquired companies, has been a long-term
market leader in the FDH business. Being a key supplier to the major network
providers during the explosive FTTH rollout provided a major source of revenue
for CommScope’s companies. Today, CommScope owns more than 25 patents on FDH