Guide To Fiber Optic Installation

the ultimate guide to fiber optic installation from FTI Belman

Fiber optic cables offer many advantages over copper wire cables in many applications. For starters, fiber optic cables can transfer data over longer distances compared to copper and can even transfer more data. Additionally, copper requires more maintenance than fiber, and fiber loses less signal strength in the long run.

Video and music streaming services require faster Internet speeds, which fuels customer demand for faster Internet. Fiber optic cables are installed for different communication applications and in different environments. The installation methods vary based on the environment where fiber cables are installed and how they will be used. Before you install a fiber optic cable through your house or office, you should know about the various types of installations and how they’re done.

Outside Plant Installation

Direct Burying

Telephone companies and Internet service providers use fiber optic cables. The cables are single-mode and are primarily run outside of buildings. You will see fiber optic cables hanging from poles, or they will be buried underground. Fiber optic cables that are buried underground may be pulled through conduits or submerged in water.

These cable runs go long distances, ranging from a few thousand feet to hundreds of thousands of miles. Cable runs of this distance are typically used for point-to-point links as a way to connect phone switches.

Optical Network Units

You may wonder, how is fiber optic installed in a residential setting? Fiber to the home (FTTH) is also referred to as fiber to the premises (FTTP). The installation begins at a central point and ends at an individual residence or apartment building. The purpose is to provide high-speed Internet access.

FTTH substantially improves connection speed to available computers and users when compared with other forms of Internet connection options. It offers speeds that are 20 to 100 times faster than a cable modem or DSL connection.

Most systems use a passive optical network (PON). The signal passes through splitters, allowing up to 32 individuals to share one link with bidirectional signals. The signals may carry CATV and require APC/angled PC connectors.

Installing fiber optic cable in new home construction is done via underground conduits. In older neighborhoods, aerial cable runs may be employed. Prefab cabling, using already terminated and all-weather seal connectors is a new technology that has been employed in this field.

Amps and Splices on Aerial Cable

You will see many systems using single-mode fiber in the backbone with an overbuilt architecture. This allows for the bypassing of coaxial cable that was already installed and the connection of local nodes that can serve fewer subscribers while providing a high-quality signal. Most CATV is aerial, except for new residential construction.

Fiber to the Premise

The characteristic that defines FTTP is that fiber optics are connected directly to the residence. Technicians install fiber optic cable for most last mile telecommunications. Fiber optic cables achieve higher performance because they use light signals to transmit data.

The basic FTTP structure is fiber optic cables running from a central location via a fiber distribution hub (FDH). It passes through a network access point (NAP) and then enters the residence via a junction box/terminal.

A ‘ditch witch’ lays out the conduit. Once the infrastructure is built, fiber optic cable routing happens via the conduit from the NAP.

Active optical networks (AONs) and passive optical networks(PONs) are used to make FTTP possible. Electronically powered switching equipment will actively direct signals with AONs. Optical splitters are used to direct the signal with PONs as opposed to electronically powered switches.

Routing the Cable Inside

During fiber optics installation, cables must be routed from the point of presence inside the building via the wall. From there, it is plugged into a distribution box located in a communications room or basement.

Network lifecycles are longer when the distribution point is inside a building. The network elements are protected from the weather, vandalism, and negligence. The fiber optic cable installation process is faster as network operators can route cables from an apartment or office basement to junction boxes on each landing. This makes it possible for operators to break out fiber cost-effectively when the resident requires it quickly.

Fiber to the Floor

Installers working on multi-story apartments or office buildings face the challenge of how to install fiber optic cable efficiently. They must decide the best way to get the cable from the basement to each building level.

In newly constructed commercial buildings and apartment buildings, the process is easy. Architects may design the building with fiber in mind and include a microduct. The network operator must decide if it is best to get the cable to each floor by pulling, blowing, or pushing the cable from the basement to its end location.

Blowing Fiber

Blowing fiber is an effective and proven way of fiber optic cabling installation. However, it is not always the best option for each scenario. Gasoline-powered compressors may not be optimal for use in basements. Developers may be reluctant to let compressed air, including dirt and water particles, be blown into their buildings.

The advantage of blowing is distance. Blown fiber can be blown up to 3,000 feet. Blowing may be the only realistic option in some scenarios.

Pullable Fiber Cable

A pullable fiber cable is a cost-effective option. It requires little equipment and has been proven to be a successful way to install fiber optic cable in high-rise buildings. This is a labor-intensive process unless a pull cord is already installed.

Some installers prefer the cable rodding approach. However, there is a risk that the cable will be overstressed. Heavy tensile loads during the pulling may damage the cable. Obstacles in the cable’s path can also damage the cable. Pullable fiber cable has a maximum installation distance of roughly 1,500 feet.

Pushable Cable

This is an inexpensive installation method that has severe limitations. Cables can be pushed to a maximum of 984 feet. If predetermination is used in conjunction with pushing the cable, the process can be relatively quick and efficient.

Hand pushing cables is laborious and time-consuming. Cables can be pushed by hand to a maximum of 325 feet. Older construction has poorly planned conduits that make pushing cables difficult.

Troubleshooting

Older buildings that only have PVC electrical outlets can make installing fiber cable difficult. Options may include using whatever free space is available in the building, including elevator shafts, ceilings, or plenum spaces, or simply tacking cables onto the walls.

Fiber to the Apartment or Office

Direct fixing, pushing, and pulling are viable ways to install the last leg of a fiber installation. Some apartments or building offices have ducts that lead from each floor into each apartment or office. In the rare case where these installations are present, blowing may be an option.

Another option is the pullback method. Multi-fiber feeder cables go from the communications room to the basement up to each floor. They travel via the corridor and enter each room. The pullback method can be effective, but it requires a skilled installer to handle bare fiber.

Installers who choose the pushing method should use cables that are flexible enough to navigate corners yet stiff enough to not buckle along the route if higher friction levels are generated. Pushing is a simple process, especially if a micro conduit is present, as this minimizes the tensile load on the cable.

Premise Cabling

Premise cabling, such as a cabling install on campus or in a building, uses cable lengths typically no longer than a few hundred feet. There are fewer fibers per cable. Most of the fiber is multi-mode.

Typical LAN Fiber Equipment

LAN connections are a common application for fiber. LANs use a combination of fiber backbones with category 5E and category 6 UTP cables. Desktop wiring is becoming less common as more people opt for wireless connections. Optical LAN based on FTTH and passive optical LAN technology is growing in popularity.

Telecom Room

Gigabit ethernet that uses VCS EL lasers has made 50/125 fiber more popular because it is more compatible with lasers. The 50/125 fiber is now being produced as laser-optimized fiber (OM3). These cables have increased bandwidth capability, making them attractive to installers.

Cables in Cable Trays

Premise cables can be installed in conduit or cable trays or may use specialized cable hooks. Installation must be done carefully to protect the cable and prevent kinking and snagging. Fiber optic cables and copper cables should not be mixed. The weight of copper cables can stress fiber optic cables. Fiber cables are sometimes hung underneath cable trays to protect them from copper.

Fiber Optic Cable Plant Installation General Rules

There are several types of fiber optic cable and different applications. It is difficult to outline each application in detail. However, some general guidelines should be followed.

Safety Measures

Everyone should take safety seriously, including supervisors, owners, and installers. OSHA has standard rules that must be followed. With fiber optics, you must protect your eyes from chemicals and fiber shards. Before starting a job, safety rules and chemical MSDS information should be posted.

Training for Installation

All employees should be trained on working with fiber optic installation. They should be familiar with the tools, safety procedures, techniques, and processes used. All equipment and cables must be tested before use, and all personnel must prove they have basic knowledge and skills, such as FOA CFOT certification.

Pre-Installation

No installation should be done if there is no complete design and the equipment and components have not been chosen. Permits should be pulled, groups should be coordinated, and the cable routing should be determined. Parts for the job must be ordered and delivered before work can begin. Anyone affected by the installation, such as those who may lose communication services, should be informed.

Conclusion

Fiber optic installation is a challenging yet rewarding process. It requires planning, communication, and a commitment to safety for it to be successful. It’s always good to conduct an inspection after you’re done with the installation to make sure of the workmanship and to ensure everything is set up correctly. Fiber is an important part of new builds around the world and they provide residents and companies with high-speed internet access. If managed properly, fiber optics can be done quickly and cost-effectively without many disruptions. They can also deliver what everyone values the most – a positive return on investment. If you’re looking to have a fiber optic installation done, let us know! We have an expert team of engineers, installers, designers, and architects that can help make installing fiber optic painless.

FTI Belman