High quality, robust products are the key to a reliable and sustainable fibre optic networks because they will minimise the cost of installation and carbon emissions says Carlos Lopez, Telecoms business director, Prysmian Group

Cables are not sexy. It is hard to comprehend, I know, but most households and businesses really don’t care what cable is used to deliver their internet service; alongside price, all they care about is reliability, speed and latency of the service.

The key to speed, latency and reliability in fibre optic networks is quality. Prysmian is Europe’s leading fibre optic cable manufacturer and the only major optical cable manufacturer in the UK. Its quality fibre optic cables deliver market leading performance and they can be expected to last for 30 years or even longer.

Quality is fundamental to longevity. Longevity is important because up to 60% of the total investment cost of a fibre optic network, particularly one in a congested urban environment, can be attributable to cable installation. As a comparison, the capital cost of the cable itself and connectivity hardware is about a fifth of that, at around 12% of the total investment.

The consequence of cable failure is no service and very unhappy customers. For the company managing the network, whose reputation is at stake, a cable failure means that it must identify where the problem has occurred, which can be difficult in a congested location. It must then organise for the cable to be repaired, or even replaced, which can be an even bigger and more expensive challenge.

It really is a no-brainer: if a network operator really wants to preserve its reputation and its finances, then the most effective thing they can do is to install a quality fibre optic cable in the first instance to avoid having to replace it any sooner than is necessary.

In addition to being a leader in the manufacture of quality, robust cables, Prysmian is also leading the field when it comes to the performance of fibre optic cables.

By making cables smaller, more can be fitted into an available space. London, for example, has a network of cable ducts that are already heavily congested. To utilise these ducts, Prysmian has developed a range of extremely small fibre optic cables that can be overblown into these already congested ducts.

Globally, a standard optical fibre is 250microns diameter. Each optical fibre contains a series of fragile glass strands which propagate light signals between devices. Each strand is protected by a robust, high performing outer sheath. It is the quality and compatibility of both of these elements that is fundamental to the performance and longevity of the cable.

Prysmian has developed an innovative sleeve, which is equally robust but is smaller in diameter, to enable more fibre strands to be fitted within the same diameter cable, or more data to be carried by a smaller diameter cable. This is an innovation that can result in huge time and cost benefits because it allows networks to be expanded in busy locations without the need to dig new trenches.

Making cables and connectivity parts smaller without compromising quality is far from straightforward; Prysmian is one of the few manufacturers able to do this, which is why these enhanced products come at a premium price. Our products are UK manufactured and we are a Centre of Excellence for Connectivity.

In addition to using existing ducts, the sustainable benefits from using smaller cables are that packaging, transportation and transportation costs are all reduced. And, by enabling a longer length of cable to wound onto a standard spool, an installation will require fewer joints, which will also help reduce installation time.

The benefits of making our products smaller also help minimise their impact on the environment and the carbon footprint from building the network. There are also environmental benefits from using recycled materials in the manufacture of cables, which Prysmian does. However, the biggest environmental benefit by far is from not having to replace a cable any sooner than is necessary simply because that involves digging, and digging is a disaster for any businesses’ sustainability metrics.

As a cable manufacturer looking to sell cable, urging network operators to invest in quality cable that we know will last the test of time may sound contradictory. It is not. Not all cables are the same and Prysmian wants its customers to invest in quality. If a network operator really wants to be environmentally, socially and, most importantly for us, economically sustainable, then the most effective thing they can do is to avoid having to replace its fibre optic network any sooner than necessary.

To hear more…

Carlos Lopez, Telecom Business Director at Prysmian Group, will be speaking at the Connected Britain Conference in Project Rollout on Wednesday 20th September at 11:20am. 

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