Autumn 2021 - Optical Connections Magazine



In the rush to get fibre to as many premises as possible, a number of alternative solutions to FTTH are gaining traction, most of which are based around Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) of one sort or another. However, Multiple Dwelling Units (MDUs) such as high- and low-rise apartments and flats, along with hospitals, hotels and office blocks, present specific problems even for radio-based technologies. Optical Connections editor Peter Dykes takes a look at two solutions for meeting the challenges of MDUs.

A s network providers across the industry seek to offer reliable connectivity, MDUs are complex environments to deploy fibre to and operators must establish a network for multiple tenants, which is not a seamless task, according to Colin Kirkpatrick, solutions director at Emtelle. He points out that MDUs can come in various forms such as high-rise and low-rise blocks, as well as new-build (greenfield) and brownfield. New-builds tend to be easier for installers as cable pathways can be accessed at an earlier stage. Existing builds (brownfield) pose a unique challenge with fibre engineers often facing space constraints when undertaking installations. There are other issues facing rollout to MDUs however. Kirkpatrick says, “The rapid roll out of FTTx is also limited, due to the significant skills gaps the industry faces. In turn, the cost of fibre splicing technology and lack of specialised splicing technicians culminates in considerable expenditure for operators. Permitting new fibre installations can also be problematic due to the potential disruption associated with them, along with building owners’ fears in regard to the installation of fibre cables that

use fire-rated microduct tube bundle assemblies and a blown fibre unit. As part of this, the installer would blow the fibre from the basement through the microducts. Rather than installing one full Point-To-Point (P2P) cable, the unit can be installed separately. By removing the need for splicing, the operator can achieve cost savings, reduced installation times and a lowered skillset need.” Kirkpatrick offers an alternative solution however. He explains, “Pre- connectorised fibre solutions can hold the key for successful one-time MDU installations. Emtelle’s QWKlink fibre cable is a point to point blown solution that can enable installers to blow from the basement to the apartment. Once blown, the installer can assemble the connector and plug it into the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) within the apartment swiftly, with microducts installed in sections and joined together. An internal pre-connectorised cabling system such as QWKconnect MDU brings advantages due to the pre- connectorised fibre being pre-installed in a fire-rated microduct. Its pre-installed and pre-connectorised design eliminates the need for fibre blowing and splicing, with a reduced need for training.” In terms of hard-wired solutions for

need to take place in the property and the cosmetic damage that may cause. It is vital though, that operators can efficiently serve MDUs and provide the unfailing connectivity their tenants yearn for.” FIBRE SOLUTIONS Emtelle itself offers solutions for MDU’s in order for operators to optimally roll out fibre deployments en masse, as operators require a variety of solutions that ensure minimal cosmetic damage and fast installation times, along with cost-effective and viable solutions for both greenfield and brownfield MDUs. In addition, they often propose and utilise multiple solutions depending on each deployment’s layout to complete a successful installation. Kirkpatrick says there have been two tried-and-tested methods to deploy MDU solutions, both of which require fibre splicing at each apartment and on every floor. These can include a complex process of deploying fire-rated fibre optic cables that are routed on cable trays from the basement via riser spaces to each floor, with the cable spliced at the termination box and a separate drop cable routed to each apartment. Another traditional MDU solution would be to


| ISSUE 25 | Q3 2021

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