Sunday, 27 September 2020

How can I minimise disruption on a fibre cable installation project?

by Paul Churm, Sales Manager for the Fibre Optic Division at REHAU
Thursday 10 September 20

When I sat down in January to plan the year ahead, I would never have dreamt that two months down the line we’d be faced with the largest disruption of life in human history. However, the telecommunications industry is no stranger to disruption.   Therefore, it was no surprise in April when Openreach informed all UK ISPs that related engineering work to extend the network was scaled back due to COVID-19. Couple that with the immense irony surrounding our heightened reliance on the digital world, the pressure really is on if we’re going to meet the 2025 deadline of a full gigabit connectivity.    Modelling from the Infrastructure Transition Research Consortium (ITRC) projects the UK population will be 75 million by 2050…

When I sat down in January to plan the year ahead, I would never have dreamt that two months down the line we’d be faced with the largest disruption of life in human history. However, the telecommunications industry is no stranger to disruption.
 
Therefore, it was no surprise in April when Openreach informed all UK ISPs that related engineering work to extend the network was scaled back due to COVID-19. Couple that with the immense irony surrounding our heightened reliance on the digital world, the pressure really is on if we’re going to meet the 2025 deadline of a full gigabit connectivity. 
 
Modelling from the Infrastructure Transition Research Consortium (ITRC) projects the UK population will be 75 million by 2050. This 12.5% increase in population will further compound our need for faster connections with greater capacity. 
 
Delivering fibre-optic cables to every community is a substantial challenge and will inevitably cause more disruption. However, if the technology chosen has been considered thoroughly, managing a fibre optic installation can be simple. By selecting products that allow for a fault free installation, ISPs and contractors will be able to get jobs done more effectively.
 
 
Why is micro duct design so important? 
 
Deploying FTTX technology typically involves digging a trench in the road or footpath to install ducting – all of which can be very disruptive. What’s more, in places where there are cobbled streets, for example, it can be costly and time and labour intensive to take this approach. This is why we are seeing many ISPs utilising existing infrastructure via Passive Infrastructure Access (PIA). Not only can this speed up the installation, it can minimise cost and avoid unnecessary disruption to the local area. 
 
However, unbeknown to many, micro ducting design can vary significantly, either enabling or hindering the installation process. I want to share some of the latest design innovations that could potentially save companies significant cost and disruption.
 
 
Direct-bury capability 
 
Essentially you want to limit the time spent on site, to reduce roadworks which ultimately cause congestion, disrupt productivity and increase public frustration. To minimise installation times, the benefits of simple and efficient technology are clear cut. Most micro ducting requires additional materials (i.e. waterproof seals or containers) to cover up connections or break out points, however new generation designs such as RAUSPEED, come with thick walled microducts which means it can go straight into the ground.
 
For more challenging installations like long horizontal directional drills or direct bury applications without sand bedding, we offer a RAUSPEED Xtreme solution, catering for extra pulling in strength or robustness against external impacts.
 
The main body of the microducts is made of translucent material which helps installers to easily identify cables and avoid errors like mistakenly cutting occupied ducts. Together with co-extruded coloured stipes and duct number at short intervals, a unique identification of each microduct is possible, even in a bundle configuration with a high number of microducts. Connectors also play a key role; if they can be direct buried they can reduce installation time by up to 35%. When working in the ground, engineers may be delayed when having to identify multiple components to connect cabling together. Having unique pre-assembled safety clips can allow a simple push-fit solution in this space. This allows a 100% check of each connection to be performed easily.
 
 
Interior trapezoidal grooving 
 
As stated in EN 50411-6-1, the inner surface of a micro duct must have as low coefficient of friction (CoF) as possible and traditionally this has been achieved with an additional lubricant. While many micro ducts do use grooving designs, many still require the lubrication. 
 
A new solution to this problem is RTR trapezoidal grooving. Combined with tight extrusion tolerances, the grooving essentially creates a 360° air cushion allowing the cable to almost float through. This allows for better airflow and eliminates friction on the fibre, which is optimal for blowing in results over longer distances. This in turn negates the need for additional access chambers and digs, further reducing disruption. RAUSPEED has seen blowing in successes of more than 5km in a single blow. For example, a REHAU project in Switzerland produced excellent blow results using a RAUSPEED microduct 16/12 in combination with a 288 fibre optic cable.  
 
There are a variety of unique challenges that comes with any project but with careful consideration over fibre technologies used, disruption can be set to a minimum. 
 
 
For more information on RAUSPEED from REHAU Telecommunications, please visit: www.rehau.com/uk-en/distribution-networks 

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