Solving congestion challenges in FTTP deployment

Viewpoint Article

by Evan Rogers, Solution Innovation Manager EMEA, Corning Optical Communications

The UK is currently building Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) at an unprecedented rate.

Figures published by Ofcom in April 2024 confirmed that 62% of UK households (as of January 2024) can now access full-fibre broadband – a 48% year on year increase.

Powering this charge towards a more connected Britain are, of course, the likes of Openreach and a host of altnets, who must work smartly to utilise every inch of space of our towns and cities’ infrastructure, deploying more and more fibre in space-constrained environments.

Access to Openreach’s ducts and poles through Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) regulations has helped ease some of the logistical difficulties of fibre deployment for altnets but network congestion is becoming a major challenge. This will only increase as more operators deploy.

Space has become a premium commodity within existing infrastructure, and the risk of damaging equipment when working or removing it from the chamber is high. Such damage often necessitates the construction of off-site chambers, a costly and time-consuming solution that is unsustainable on a national scale.

How are network equipment providers responding?

With network operators looking to deploy fibre in tight spaces not originally designed for today’s density of connections, they need ways to shrink their footprint and deploy more quickly and economically.

Corning’s solution, Evolv® Terminals and Drops with Pushlok™ Technology, was introduced in 2020 after an intensive development period and has since undergone continued refinements. Corning knew that decreasing the device’s size, without compromising on connectivity, would be key. The breakthrough came when the team reorganised the terminal ports and input stub to align in a single row on the bottom of the device.

Clever work to reduce the connector’s size meant we could also decrease the terminal size – critically, enabling operators to place the solution in any environment and navigate within congested chambers. Minimising the size of the terminal in multiple planes also enabled the product to be installed on buildings and poles discretely and with an overall aesthetic look.

Approximately half the size of the previous terminal, the  Evolv® terminal offers a neater cabling system, saving considerable space within the chambers and enabling additional customers to be served from a single chamber. With the risk over-congestion minimised, this in turn reduces the likelihood of end customer effecting faults and delays, leading to a more reliable network and customer experience.

Its ease of integration into the existing network is also a significant advantage for network operators, requiring minimal training for engineers.

Supporting rural deployment

With the UK Government committing £714 million towards boosting rural coverage in 2024, the expansion of the full fibre rollout into premises in the countryside must also be considered. For many rural deployments, overhead networks are favoured and congestion will again be a consideration.

UK regulations stipulate that cables installed between poles must break under a load of 2kN to prevent overloading the pole and potentially causing significant damage to the network and health and safety risks to engineers and customers. Again, prioritising smaller terminals that can be installed on congested poles will ensure the maximum number of customers can be serviced without jeopardising the integrity of the poles.

Maintaining momentum

A continued focus on speed, scalability and cost-efficiency will be key for the UK’s full fibre rollout to not stumble at the final hurdle.

To prevent network congestion from slowing this current momentum, particularly as more key players enter the market, we’re working closely with network operators to mitigate these challenges and plan for success as the rural push takes shape.

As the UK continues its march towards becoming a more connected nation, it’s clear that space-saving solutions will play a crucial role in the deployment of FTTP in both urban and rural areas.

Find out more about how we’re putting this into practice with Openreach in our recent video here.

Want to learn more? You can find Corning at Stand 69b at Connected Britain 2024, taking place on September 11-12 at ExCel London. Get your tickets now!

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