What is FTTP and how is it different from the FTTH?

The FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) is an access network architecture that consists into running a fibre from the Optical Exchange to the subscriber’s premises. According to the network topology, fibre optics can pass through one or multiple fibre nodes before entering the subscriber’s premises, whether it is a residential or a business premises. As fibre terminates at the subscriber’s location, FTTP is similar to FTTH. By leveraging these two network architectures, telecom incumbents and alternative ISPs can ensure the best speeds and lowest latencies for the offered services.

The FTTP acronym is often used interchangeably with FTTH. However, the FTTP is preferred to FTTH in some countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada or Australia. Unlike FTTH, which is associated with fibre connections to single or multi-dwellings, FTTP is used by major telecoms players to designate both the connection of a residential or business premises to fibre optic networks.

FTTP networks can be deployed thanks to using a dedicated fibre or a shared network

Like FTTH, Fibre to the Premises infrastructures can be rolled out in two different configurations:

 

  • A dedicated fibre (P2P) : By replicating the copper local loop model, this type of network offer the highest performance in terms of speed, data transfer capacity and most importantly security. Indeed, since the FTTP is deployed both to private and professional subscribers, data protection is a key criteria to consider when setting up the installation. The point-to-point network topology is therefore to be favoured as it does not involve any optical signal sharing. However, this type of installation requires higher deployment costs, mainly due to the larger fibre count and the associated civil engineering work.

     

    This network deployment has been chosen by British Telecom in the UK. The British incumbent provides subscriber connections via a dedicated optical line, which runs directly from the Optical Exchange.
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  • Shared fibre (P2MP) : In the case of a shared FTTP network, private or professional subscribers can benefit, in addition to lower deployment costs, from similar or similar performance to that of networks based on a dedicated fibre model. Indeed, when Internet use is limited to email, occasional streaming and web browsing, the shared network (point to multipoint) is a relevant choice. Thus, this type of fibre connection will make it possible to satisfy all connectivity needs for a reduced investment.

Which benefits and disadvantages in rolling-out FTTP networks ?

 

Like FTTH, FTTP reduces CAPEX and OPEX due to the capacity of a single fiber cable to replace several copper cables. Moreover, as fibre cables are more reliable solutions than copper wires for long distances deployments, the number of physical nodes would be significantly reduced and, as direct consequence, field technicians would save time both during the cable running phase and throughout the maintenance operations. Furthermore, by using fiber solutions to ensure the last mile connectivity, FTTP and FTTH networks deep divisions with the other network topologies such as FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) or HFC (Hybrid Fibre Coaxial):

Benefits

Disadvantages

  • Speed: fibre optics allow much faster Internet connections than those established by using copper networks, by registering speeds of up to 100Gps. According to an international survey, Internet slowdowns would cost businesses, on average, one working week per year.
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  • Power of the signal: fibre optics present unrivalled performance in terms of insertion loss. For instance, over a distance of 100 metres, a fibre cable will lose only 3% of its signal strength, whereas a copper cable will be attenuated by up to 94% of its signal strength.
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  • Acces to Cloud: With the rise of teleworking, subscribers have increasing needs to access more and more applications and data saved in the cloud. A fibre connection via a FTTP network will meet these needs and allow subscribers to keep on enjoying the benefits of collaborative working from their home.
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  • Reliability: Whether at home or in the office, there are plenty situations that require stable Internet services: video conferencing, HD video, e-learning, VoIP or file sharing - all of these uses are possible thanks to reliable telecommunications networks.
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  • Low latencies: Latency is the delay that users perceive before the transfer of the data they are searching for becomes available. As the latency associated with the use of fibre optics is almost zero, a FTTP or FTTH network will offer the lowest latencies and, therefore, the most effective communications.
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  • Symmetry in data transfer: Unlike DSL, which is based on the principle of asymmetric data transfer, fibre optics enables data to be uploaded and downloaded symmetrically.
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  • Resistance to interference: As opposed to copper cables which are sensitive to electromagnetic interferences, fiber optic cabling systems are unresponsive. Thus, in an industrial environment where machinery or other elements may interfere with copper cables, a FTTP or FTTH network will provide the best possible signal stability.
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  • Sustainability: fibre optic cables are a long term investment. Indeed, they have a much longer service cycle than copper or coax cables. Under optimal installation and use conditions, the lifespan of a fibre optic cable is about 10 times longer than that of an alternative cable such as copper or coaxial.

  • Consistent financial investment. Implementing fibre optics solutions for the last mile access involves additional expenditure for enabling fibre-to-the-premises or fibre-to the-home networks.
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  • Potentially higher monthly fees than those relative to Internet services provided via DSL or coaxial cable
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  • Acces to a reduced number of Internet providers, according to the geographical location of the subscriber
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Deploying FO in a MDU: from the Building Point of Presence to the optical outlet

 

enabling MDUs access to ultrafast broadband networks requires a variety of fibre optic boxes and indoor optical cables

While the roll out of an FTTP network is more obvious in the case of a SDU, where telecom installers do not lack space for running fiber optics in an overhead or underground layout, the FTTP deployment in MDU is a more complex scenario. Indeed, to bring a dedicated fibre optics to each subscriber, several connectivity solutions are required.

In the case of buildings with a couple of floors, located in low-density areas, the FTTP network can be extended from an Outdoor Optical Distribution Point, mounted on a telecom or utility pole, via an aerial optical cable up to a Building Entry Point (BEP). Inside the BEP, the outdoor distribution cable is connected to a riser cable which contains a multiple of 12 fibre optics, up to maximum 144 fibre counts, as for instance the Eline® riser cable. On each floor, the required number of fibre counts will be extracted from the vertical optical distribution cable. Each fibre strand will then be linked, inside a Floor Distribution Box, to an indoor FO drop cable by performing a splicing application or by simply plugging in a connector for pre-terminated cabling solutions. Thereafter, the indoor drop will run inside the subscriber premises up to the optical outlet which is placed nearby the ONT and where fiber termination will be performed by field telecom technicians.

 

For multi-storey MDUs, located in high-density areas, the connection to FTTP networks will be made following the same steps, except for some relevant details. Thus, the Outdoor Optical Distribution Point will be placed in a manhole, also known as a pavement chamber. The ODP will be thus linked to a BEP mounted in the building’s basement via an underground optical cable, specifically designed to withstand mechanical stresses associated with this type of installation environment.