Optical Connections Magazine Spring 2022


As fibre optic networks become increasingly more complex, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong. We usually think of network problems in terms of component failures, traffic overload and the occasional physical damage to line plant. However, Mathieu Brigot - Product & Solution Manager at optical telecom systems provider Nexans argues that human error at the installation stage along with a lack of redundancy present much larger threats to network integrity, meaning the industry needs to reappraise its approach to risk management. PROTECTING THE NETWORK AND SECURING POPS

A lthough many people threats are a bigger issue. That’s why European standards related to the construction and use of networks take a variety of environmental parameters into account. For example, aerial cables and the poles that support them must be capable of resisting wind, frost and the weight of snow and ice. Outdoor equipment needs to meet standards that take humidity and temperature into account. An optical tray in a think vandalism is one of the greatest risks to network components, its effects are practically negligible. Environmental street cabinet may need to withstand temperature variations from -40 °C to + 75 °C. Conventional standards don’t take unpredictable events into account, such as landslides or floods. Their impact depends on the way in which a network has been built. For example, underground infrastructure using unsheathed cables will be affected by a landslide in a different way than a network in which cables have been placed in conduits and manhole access allows easier maintenance.

HUMAN ERROR However, the main cause of network degradation is not the environment. When you participate in a deployment, you quickly realise that the main cause of failure is human actions. And this becomes obvious if we look at the maintenance intervention reports of the operators. I don’t mean incidents unrelated to deployment, such as a road accidents or vandalism – I’m referring to the actions of network technicians on the job. More than 90% of intervention requests are made following a previous intervention. Once networks are fully deployed the consequences of human error are even greater. Especially with FTTH networks in many European countries. However, it should not be considered that its failures are exclusively due to a form of incompetence of technicians. The reality is much more complex. All too often, the required speed and volume of deployment, combined with a lack of experience and frequent interventions, result in errors. If a technician makes a mistake on the network, even a minor one, and interventions follow one after the other, the effect connected clients

experience are increasingly significant.

Installation of the wrong type of fibre, for example, can have consequences for the performance of the network or its longevity. Sometimes, technicians exceed the admissible bending radii for the fibre, because they are used to working with copper, which was less restrictive. It is also important to note that the connectors are often not cleaned before installation in a cabinet. Lack of equipment or technical knowledge can lead to the outdoor installation of equipment that was, in fact, designed for indoor use. Finally, complicated subcontracting processes have the effect of diluting training and preventing technicians from having an overview of the network. When opening a fibre cabinet, you’ll often see a fibre optic ‘spaghetti’. Tests show that within just a few weeks, a cabinet that has been thoroughly cleaned up reverts to its original messy state - even in areas where deployment has ended and the only modifications to optical paths are to add subscribers. Setting up traceability systems at cabinet level (using photo or access control),



| ISSUE 28 | Q1 2022

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