When it comes to delivering Internet and network services from an operator’s equipment all the way to a home, business or enterprise, optical fiber carries with it two important qualities: robustness and reliability. In fact, connecting all endpoints directly to fiber optic cable enables tremendous improvements in what bandwidth devices are capable of delivering.
Deploying fiber deep pushes better cable service closer to the customer, enhances scalability, and addresses concerns about aging copper being a bottleneck to network innovation. Today, fiber optics have become engrained into nearly every facet of communications, from transmission fibers used in undersea, terrestrial, metro and local area networks (LAN), to specialty fibers used in amplifiers, lasers, sensors and more.
New optical fiber improvements have come in the form of providing higher bandwidth, supporting longer distances or reducing the overall cost of transport.
Let’s spotlight one of the latest innovations: fiber-to-the-home (FTTH). Defined as an access network architecture in which the connection to the subscriber’s premises is optical fiber, FTTH terminates the fiber optic communications path on or inside the premises for the purpose of carrying communication services to a single subscriber.
This becomes critically important as you look at the fact that despite the average number of Internet-connected devices per home continuing to increase, fiber passes less than one third of homes in the U.S. Furthermore, only 39 percent of consumers have access to more than one broadband provider of 25 Mbps service. Approximately 10 million rural homes and 3 million urban and suburban homes can’t get broadband speeds at all.
And now as the market enters the era of 5G, fiber matters more than ever. With 5G relying in large part on high radio frequencies, a large number of small 5G radios, or “cells,” will be required, and those small cells will require a substantial amount of fiber. In fact, estimates call for 1,390,816 miles of fiber cable, to be exact. And that is just to provide full 5G service to the top-25 metropolitan land areas in the United States alone.
Taking it a step further, estimates say that deploying 5G wireless speeds 10 to 100 times faster than 4G will cost $130 to $150 billion in fiber optic cabling alone over the next five-to-seven years.
Increased speed and capacity from 5G will rely on higher radio frequencies and greater network densification, which increases the number and concentration of cell sites and access points. And in the end, that payoff could ultimately prove substantial as fiber paves a critical path to next-generation networks.
The standards and evolving technologies are a staple of TIA’s work. Engage in a TIA working group or educational program to be at the forefront of this field.
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