Deploying Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) networks
The FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) is an access network architecture that consists in 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.
What is the difference between FTTP and FTTH?
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 use of the acronym FTTP is often interchangeable with FTTH. However, in some countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, or Australia, the acronym FTTP is preferred. Major telecoms operators talk about FTTP networks to designate the connection of business premises to fibre optic networks, instead of FTTH, which is associated with connecting residential dwellings to fibre.
Installing a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) network
Network Operators can build Fibre to the Premises infrastructures in two different configurations:
A dedicated fibre, P2P fibre network (point-to-point): By replicating the copper local loop model, this type of network offers 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. It offers an excellent option for professionals who need direct connections between their remote servers and local workstations. 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.
In the UK, BT (British Telecom) has chosen this type of network deployment. The British incumbent provides subscriber connections via a dedicated optical line, which runs directly from the Optical Exchange.
P2MP fibre network (Point-to-multipoint: In the case of a shared FTTP network, as several customers share the optical fibre on the first section of the network, it is less costly to set up. Subscribers can benefit from similar performances to that of networks based on a dedicated fibre model, at lower cost. 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.
What should Operators consider before deploying FTTP networks?
Like FTTH, FTTP reduces CAPEX and OPEX as a single fibre cable can replace several copper cables. Moreover, as fibre cables are more reliable solutions than copper wires for long distances rollouts, it significantly reduces the number of physical nodes and, as a direct consequence, field engineers can save time both during the cable-running phase and throughout the maintenance operations. Using fibre solutions to ensure the last mile connection therefore presents major differences compared to other types of networks such as FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) or HFC (Hybrid Fibre Coaxial).
Benefits of FTTP networks
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.
Signal power: fibre optics present unrivalled performances 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 up to 94% of its signal strength.
Access to the 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 enable subscribers to enjoy the benefits of collaborative working from home.
Reliability: Whether at home or in the office, there are plenty situations that require stable Internet connection. Video conferencing, high definition video viewing, e-learning, IP telephony services or file sharing... all of these are possible thanks to reliable FTTP networks.
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.
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. A single key is used to both encrypt and decrypt data.
Resistance to interference: As opposed to copper cables, which are sensitive to electromagnetic interferences, fibre 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.
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.
What can be the disadvantages encountered when deploying FTTP networks?
Consistent financial investment. Implementing fibre optic solutions for the last mile access involves additional expenditure for enabling fibre-to-the-premises or fibre-to the-home networks.
Potentially higher monthly fees than those relative to Internet services provided via DSL or coaxial cable
Access to a reduced number of Internet providers, according to the geographical location of the subscriber
Connecting MDUs to FTTP networks: from the Building Point of Presence to the optical outlet
The rollout of an FTTP network is easier in the case of a SDU (single dwelling unit), where telecom installers do not lack space for running fibre optics in an overhead or underground layout. However, the FTTP deployment in multi-dwelling units (MDU) is more complex. Indeed, to bring a dedicated fibre optic 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 is extracted from the vertical optical distribution cable.
Each fibre strand is then 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, placed nearby the ONT where telecom field engineers will perform fibre termination.
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. The Outdoor Optical Distribution Point is placed in a telecom manhole, also known as a pavement chamber. The ODP is 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.
On Telenco networks, you will find all the necessary equipment for the deployment of stable overhead FTTP networks.