FTTH Hardened Connectivity Evolves to Accelerate and Simplify Deployments

Remember the days of fiber splicing? When older, copper-based networks were common, fiber splicing was a necessity. It was a highly skilled, manual process. Technicians needed specialized training, versus simply plugging things in. Today, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments look very different, thanks to the introduction of hardened connector technology in 2004.

Hardened connectivity eliminates the need for splicing, minimizes the technical skills required of labor and makes deployments faster and easier. The technology is critical in helping service providers scale up to meet demand for flexible and reliable networks with agility and speed. By accelerating deployments, service providers can help bring high-speed internet to everyone everywhere.

Early days of fiber-optic networks

CommScope was instrumental in developing the connectivity ecosystem, including the first generation of connectors. Initially, only one type was available to cover a single-fiber joint and that was only for protected outside plant applications—meaning they were placed inside cabinets or closures. The earliest connectors were only suitable for light-duty loading and couldn’t stand up to harsh outdoor conditions.

Later, design and technology advances helped push the connectors into the exposed (and unprotected) outdoor environment. They were hardened—meaning they were encapsulated in material that protects them from extreme temperatures, moisture, ultraviolet radiation and other conditions typically found in the outside plant. These connectors were also watertight and could be installed in aerial and underground applications.

Unfortunately, these early hardened connectors were also bulky and challenging to use because they needed to withstand harsh conditions. CommScope led the way in optimizing the hardened connectors to increase their reliability, strength and ease of use. We were at the forefront of quality, performance and simplicity from the get-go.

It wasn’t long before multifiber connector options emerged for configurations of two, four, six, eight and 12 fibers. Each connector iteration improved performance, quality and durability, as well as ease of installation and maintenance. The industry welcomed these changes as demand for high-speed fiber soared.

Plug-and-play installation with hardened connectivity

Technology advances led to smaller profiles in response to smaller spaces now available, given the fiber densification that had been taking place. Terminals using hardened connectors could be installed on a pole, or in a pedestal or hand hole with a significantly reduced footprint.

Service providers could connect customers to their fiber networks faster than ever before. The number of hardened connectors on the market increased as service providers sought solutions from various vendors. Customers who used multiple types of hardened connectors faced the challenge of carrying additional inventory. Material planning became increasingly complex with the volume and variety of connectors. As a result, engineers began exploring ways to simplify hardened connectivity.

Service providers clearly needed a breakthrough connectivity solution—one that would be universal and interoperable to simplify network planning, logistics and installation. We listened carefully to our customers to develop technology that revolutionizes cable assemblies and supports making broadband for everyone everywhere a reality. But we didn’t just consider service providers’ immediate needs. Instead, we had the vision to develop the road map for future-ready networks.

That future is Prodigy™, CommScope’s small-form universal hardened connector system. It’s designed to accelerate and simplify field installation for FTTH networks. Prodigy revolutionizes plug-and-play connectivity not just for today’s networks but also those of tomorrow.

Learn more about CommScope’s Prodigy universal hardened connectivity solution.

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