Note: we have been revealing in recent blog posts the top 40 innovations made by CommScope (or one of its acquired companies) as part of our 40th anniversary celebration. We continue today by revealing an innovation from the final grouping of innovations—the top 10—which are being announced in alphabetical order. These are our all-time greatest product and technology innovations. You can also review the complete list of innovations we’ve revealed so far and read more about the overall program and selection process in this November 4 post.
CommScope’s Top 40 Innovations—Grouping 1-10
Fiber Management Systems (FIST)
Definition: Single circuit fiber management enables technicians to access and work on a single fiber without disturbing other fibers in a bundle.
Year of the Innovation: 1992
What is the innovation that CommScope or one of its acquired companies was first in creating?
A Raychem division (now part of CommScope) introduced single circuit fiber management into its product line in 1993. This innovation enabled craft workers in the optical access network to select and work on single fibers without disturbing the other fibers in the same bundle. It made it possible for broadband providers to add new subscribers without disrupting service to existing subscribers.
What was happening in the market that this innovation was needed?
Until 1992, optical providers had focused on building long-haul networks, and the primary goal was to achieve the highest fiber density possible. The Raychem division had introduced its fiber optic splice closure (FOSC) products in 1985, but that type of multi-element fiber management solution was made to get as many fibers and splices as possible into one splice tray to drive up capacity. In 1992, British Telecom asked the Raychem division to provide products for the new optical access network, where fiber was run to individual businesses and homes. The Raychem division team realized that the access network was one where technicians enter closures frequently to add new drop cables or to rearrange the fibers. Working on one fiber in a splice tray of the FOSC enclosure often meant creating sudden, uncontrolled bends in other fibers in that splice tray, which caused short drops in the optical signal (transient loss) that could lead to transmission errors – creating alarms and causing customer complaints. The Raychem division introduced the Fiber Infrastructure System Technology (FIST) closures in 1993 to reduce this transient optical loss problem. The FIST fiber management system provided a single-circuit organizer system that allowed technicians to easily access fibers without disturbing the transmission in other fibers.
How did this innovation benefit customers and the industry?
By enabling technicians to work on individual fibers without disturbing other fibers in the same bundle, the FIST fiber management system eliminated the problem of disturbing other customers’ fibers when a single fiber was accessed. This reduced customer complaints and made the process of connecting or repairing an individual customer connection much more efficient. Single circuit management was an enabling technology for access networks. It became the de facto standard in Europe and Asia.
Did this innovation act as the springboard for other innovations, and if so, how do they all tie together?
The FIST fiber management system was the start of an entire family of products that incorporated single circuit access. The FIST system gave the Raychem division a presence in all parts of the network – the central office, the outside plant network and the customer premise. Other innovations came out of this that leveraged single circuit management – a whole new suite of racks and connected hardware based on FIST concepts. The FIST fiber management system evolved into the FIST Mark II in 1998, which shortened installation times, and enhanced performance and features. In addition, tray-patching solutions for central office environments were born out of the FIST fiber management system, and optical devices were integrated in modular single-circuit assemblies.
What is the significance of the innovation for CommScope?
The FIST fiber management system brought this Raychem division into network head-ends and central offices. It was one of the first modular products that could be used in any part of the network – from the central office to the customer (CommScope acquired the technology by acquiring the BNS division from TE Connectivity in 2015). The FIST fiber management system made the Raychem division (now part of CommScope) the recognized leader in the market, and it has remained the market leader ever since.