Top Promising Innovations–Powered Fiber Cable System
year, we unveiled our top
40 innovations made by CommScope or one of
its acquired companies. This recognition was part of our 40th
anniversary celebration. We are proud of all our innovations—past and
present. Now, we look to new innovations that we hope will become the essential
building blocks for the networks of the future. In a series of blogs, we will
introduce you to our Top Promising
Innovations in the world of wireless and fiber optics. We believe these innovations have the potential to have significant impact
on the industry, much like some of the others from our past.
Powered Fiber Cable System
Powered Fiber Cable System incorporates DC power and fiber-based Ethernet
connectivity in one cable – it’s everything a customer needs to be able to
install Power over Ethernet (PoE) equipment at distances much longer than the
PoE standard allows, without having to do any calculations or design work. The
Powered Fiber Cable System extends power to a device (Wi-Fi access point, IP
camera, or small cell, for example) at a distance of up to two miles.
Year of Innovation: 2015
What is the
innovation that CommScope was first in creating?
The Powered Fiber Cable System incorporates two innovations:
one is a new hybrid cable that combines power (copper) and data connectivity
(fiber) in one cable housing, and the other is the use of a small device used
with that cable, called the PoE Extender.
Hybrid power/fiber cables have been on the market for a few
years, but they are bulky, expensive to terminate, and they require experts to
deploy. CommScope’s Powered Fiber Cable System uses cable that is like an FTTH
drop cable, and can be accessed in 30 seconds by standard networking technicians
without special tools.
The PoE Extender tackles other deployment issues. CommScope
engineers incorporated something new in the circuit world – cheap and highly
efficient DC-to-DC electrical conversion to automatically eliminate the voltage
drop in the system. The Powered Fiber Cable System automatically manages the
electrical voltage drop, eliminating the need for electrical calculations. This
system innovation makes the cable less expensive and faster to deploy, and
the electronic component innovation eliminates design headaches for the
What was happening in
the market that this innovation was needed?
There is a massive shift toIP technology in the market. For
example, surveillance cameras are moving away from CCTV and toward IP, and
there are an increasing number of Ethernet-connected devices such as Wi-Fi
access points being deployed both indoors and out. Hybrid power/fiber cable
solutions existed in the market, but they required extensive engineering to
implement and they required electricians to terminate power at the cable end.
Customers such as airports, universities, enterprises, and military bases were
looking for an easier and more cost-effective way to deploy remote PoE devices
such as IP cameras, Wi-Fi access points, and telco small cells.
With the broad introduction of telco small cells delayed by the
limited frequency-handling capabilities of these devices, the enterprise/university/airport
markets were the earliest buyers of the Powered Fiber Cable System. These organizations
needed to deploy thousands of IP cameras and Wi-Fi access points in remote
locations, but didn’t want to have to engineer each connection, and in any
event these custom-engineered solutions posed reliability problems.
How does this
innovation benefit customers and the industry?
CommScope’s Powered Fiber Cable System eliminates the need
for complex custom engineering for each connected device, as well as the need
for expensive electricians to terminate cables at devices. It operates within SELV
and NEC Class 2 limits, eliminating the need for electricians and dramatically reducing
the cost of deploying remote cameras, access points, small cells and other
devices. It can be very costly to hire electricians to install AC outlets and
AC/DC converters in hundreds of awkward locations where remote devices are
required, whereas the Powered Fiber Cable System automatically provides the DC
power needed, so it doesn’t require converter devices. The Powered Fiber Cable
System also incorporates fiber-to-copper media conversion, so it speeds up the
design work and makes the overall solution more reliable.
What makes this a
promising innovation for future networks and customer applications?
At CommScope, we see an increasing number of devices on the
market – IP cameras, Wi-Fi access points, small cells, and others. As we see
these new devices come onto the market, we’re working on new versions of the Powered
Fiber Cable System that deliver more power and/or faster connectivity over
longer distances to address future applications. The hybrid cable delivers
backhaul and power to all of these remote devices and the backup power can be
centrally located. It opens up the doors for enterprises to install all of
these devices in cases where it would have been impossible or prohibitively
expensive to do it before.
What are some of the
early marketplace successes for this innovation?
The University of Tennessee has security cameras and Wi-Fi
access points, and they are using the Powered Fiber Cable System to connect these
remote devices on their campus. Other universities are also deploying the
system, and large enterprises are looking at it for campus deployments. There
are also military base deployments where rapid deployment is important, and
customers are also using the system for parking decks and to connect cameras and
entry gates in prisons.
What is the
significance of the innovation for CommScope?
The Powered Fiber Cable System is a great showcase for CommScope’s
extensive capabilities in fiber cabling, cable, and power and media conversion
systems. We see a greater overall trend toward an ever increasing amount of
devices requiring both power and communication, ever deeper into the networks,
both in enterprises and among service providers. The Powered Fiber Cable System
makes CommScope a leader in connecting those systems with a combined system
that delivers power and connectivity. The ability to distribute DC power around
buildings will be increasingly important in the enterprise, and CommScope
becomes a leader with this innovation.
Does the innovation
follow any established industry standards or do you believe it might set a
precedent for its own?
One of the big differentiators in this solution is that it
supports all existing industry standards for power and connectivity. Other
solutions on the market are proprietary and require extensive engineering to be
made to work with standard PoE devices. The Powered Fiber Cable System stays
within the limits of all domestic and international standards for equipment power
levels that that don’t require an electrician. With this product, CommScope
also adhered to all IEEE communications standards for PoE and optical fiber
How do you see this
We see this innovation evolving over time to support longer
distances, higher bandwidth, and higher power levels. CommScope will
continually evolve this solution portfolio to support new devices and
also expect that there will be multi-port versions of the Power Fiber Cable
System, which currently supports only one connection per cable. We will also support the new
802.11ac Wave 2 access points that need up to 6.9 Gbps connectivity as well as
60-watt devices like remote pan-tilt cameras with built-in heaters.
About the Author
Rudy Musschebroeck is Global Solutions Lead for Central Office, Headend and Core Networks for CommScope Connectivity Solutions. Previously he was Business Development Manager for Automated Infrastructure Management solutions and responsible product line management lead for Optical Distribution Frame Products in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). He has 15 years of experience in the telecom and consumer electronics industries, and has held various management positions in business development, product management, sales and marketing, research and development. He holds a master degree in electronics engineering from the Free University of Brussels (VUB), Belgium.