fiber optical cables - 5G Fiber Optic Trends to Watch

5G Fiber Optic Trends to Watch

    5G Fiber Optic Trends to Watch

    Both LTE and the future “5G” networks being developed by U.S. carriers are dependent on fiber, and carriers are focusing efforts on increasing the amount of fiber optic cabling used in their networks. Here’s a few fiber trends to watch:

    Telecom companies have made investment in fiber a major focus. 

    Verizon spent a good amount of 2017 increasing its access to fiber in part with its One Fiber initiative. They spent $1.8 billion on the acquisition of the fiber assets of XO communications, following up with similar deals with Prysmian and Corning. In a similar deal, CenturyLink acquired over 200,000 route miles worth of fiber assets from Level 3 in a $34 billion deal. While large scale carriers are making waves in the national and international markets, localized markets are exhibiting a similar trend. Companies throughout the U.S. are closing deals to bolster small cell deployments in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and New York City.

    Both enterprise and residential fiber access is increasing. 

    In addition to large-scale corporate investments, global fiber residential investment increased dramatically in 2016, and fiber is on track to reach 1 billion subscribers by 2021. This trend is reflected in multi-tenant and enterprise buildings; U.S. Vertical Systems Group reported that almost 50% of such buildings had access to fiber last year, up from 10% in 2004. Earlier in 2017, Deloitte said it anticipates $130-$150 billion in “deep fiber” investment in the United States over the next 5-7 years, due to expanding fiber into new areas, broadband competition, and ensuring that 5G is ready and supported by the appropriate infrastructure.

    Choices about network architecture and proper installation continue to challenge deployment of fiber. 

    While the massive amounts of spending from large-scale telecom companies seems promising for the fiber industry, there are still several issues of practicality that continue to hold back fiber deployment and highlight the necessity of proceeding carefully in the light of the emerging network architectures from the LTE to 5G transition. For example, transporting more than 10 Gbps on fiber is not so simple for very long distances due to phenomena such as phase modulation and dispersion, which can impact the bit-error rate. To account for these difficulties, CTO of EXFO Yvon Rouault predicts “an explosion of mini-data centers, or maybe virtual machines running very close to the antenna site for some specific use cases.” According to Rouault, more radical increases in speed further magnify the problem, with 100 Gbps speeds anecdotally being even too fast for the physical transmitter and receiver, causing a complete absence of signal.

    Another problem is the actual installation of the fiber-optic cable, which according to Rouault, is often not done correctly the first time due to technicians treating it just like electrical cabling. For dense 5G rollouts, it is important that fiber deployment is done correctly the first time around to avoid additional costs and inconveniences for customers.

    Want to learn more about 5G networks? Cadsourcing has experience in telecom drafting services, including drawings for small cell towers and networks. Contact us today to speak with an experienced member of our team.