Caution: Fiber has Some Unique Challenges

In 2016, Orion Communications worked on 140 telecom projects with our customers and over 90% of those projects included the utilization of fiber-based access facilities to deliver the last mile vs. traditional copper-based facilities.  The advantages have included greater capacity, reduced latency, and long-term flexibility.  Additionally, these fiber solutions have proven to reduce CAPEX and OPEX.  But, there have also been some challenges included with these projects requiring your attention to thoroughly evaluate these solutions.

  1. Timeframes – Where traditional copper-based facilities can be delivered generally under 45 days, fiber implementations generally take 90 to 120 days. Even if fiber is available to your building already, it still can take 60 days to complete.  We have found, due to extensive outside plant construction, required permits, weather conditions and other unforeseen challenges, implementations have lasted almost a year.  Make sure your project timelines include these extended implementations.
  2. Availability – There was a day in which fiber implementations were more scarce mainly due to the local availability of these enhanced access facilities. Only the largest of organizations considered these options.  But, over the years, as carriers have continued to make the investments to deploy these services, it is readily available for most customers.  However, there have been many circumstances where the delivery of fiber has not been cost effective, especially in rural areas and/or independent telephone companies.  In fact, there have even been times in which it was expected fiber was available, later to find it was not.  If you hear from your carrier fiber is NOT available, do not stop inquiring.  We have often found persistence spawns creativity and ultimately delivery.
  3. Delivery – When working with traditional copper access facilities, most buildings have the appropriate connectivity to the building to support these services. However, if your building is new to fiber services, there are some construction elements between the street and your building worth considering.
  • External Conduit – Carriers require conduit be made available to enclose the fiber between the street and your building. In many cases, the carriers will provide this access, but require right of way from the building owner.  If you are not the owner, your landlord will need to be engaged to provide these permissions.
  • Internal Conduit – Similarly, carriers expect conduit within the building from the entry point to the standard demarcation point of the building. Then again, conduit is needed from the demarcation point to the location you want services ultimately delivered to terminate into your network.
  • Termination – Depending on the speed of the services and the distance of the internal extensions, it must be determined if category 5/6 cabling or optical infrastructure is required. This must be designated early in the process so the correct equipment can be ordered.  If optical extensions are utilized, it must also be determined if multi or single mode interfaces are required.
  • Other Physical Elements – There also may be a few more requirements such as local available power and backboards to mount equipment at the standard demarcation point and potentially through the extensions.

This may seem confusing, time-consuming and costly, but these determinations need to be evaluated.  Expect a site survey to be conducted by the carrier to detail the requirements from which upfront costs can be determined.  In only a few rare circumstances have we found these requirements to be insurmountable.

We are not trying to scare you off.  Fiber access facilities is the direction of the industry providing greater, more flexible capacity while reducing costs.  And, it must be noted carriers are ultimately looking to eliminate copper-based facilities as they are limited and costly to maintain.  But, so you can effectively manage your project and minimize unforeseen challenges, it is vital these elements be considered in your project scope.

If you are looking for creative voice, data and Internet solutions, maybe it is time to reach out to Orion Communications.  As a representative of all the most common carriers, we can help you evaluate the ideal solution for the short and long term objectives of your organization.  Where one carrier may put up roadblocks, others may be more flexible.