Fiber-To-The-Anywhere Space

The North American market is primed to take advantage of microduct and microcables in the outside plant, extending bandwidth capabilities in a scalable approach. Chris Gemme explains how network operators must balance cost issues with the seemingly insatiable demand for data over their networks.

Microducts_imageAs the cost of technology continues to decrease, bandwidth demand increases. Fueling this consumption are online videos, social networking sites and multimedia applications coupled with users operating multiple mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

This demand extends beyond the home and office traditionally served by telcos and multiple-system operators (MSOs) into the “anywhere space” covered by wireless providers. Data traffic growth is expected to grow at an annual rate of approximately 45 percent. Metro networks will particularly be affected by this growth because of user density.

The demand for bandwidth is a great opportunity for those in the outside plant (OSP) business. Multiple options are available to expand networks; however, operators have to take into consideration the total cost associated with each one. Regardless of where and how the connection is made by the user, the requirements to connect the user to other users and content sites is all about bandwidth. This is a great opportunity for those in the OSP business, particularly those in optical fiber networks.

As I explained in the October 2014 issue of OSP Magazine, optical fiber networks continue to provide the best backhaul to meet all of these needs; however, getting the fiber where it needs to be requires construction, and costly construction in both time and resources. Throw in the fact that most of the revenue growth opportunities these days are in brownfield areas, the complexities of construction get even more costly. It might be safe to say that the majority of operators have come to a point where they wished they had placed more conduit in the ground or added a higher fiber count the first time on “this” street or “that” street. The reality is that no one can accurately predict the future. Therefore, throwing large amounts of conduit and fiber in the ground today for future use does not seem to be sound financial strategy. There must be a compromise.

The North American market is now primed to take advantage of microduct and microcables in the OSP extending bandwidth capabilities in a scalable approach. Microduct and microcables afford the compromise of cost today versus need in the future.