Openreach trials new fibre cable in world first
The shift from fusion splicing and blown fibre towards connectorised fibre has previously being credited with speeding up the Openreach FTTP roll-out for the final 100 to 200 metres to individual premises but as the Fibre First programme is now operating in high density urban areas the core fibre runs where hundreds of individual fibres may be needed can be the delaying factor.
Launched in 2018 Fujikura has a new fibre ribbon cable that fits 432 individual fibres into a cable of just 9.5mm diameter and is designed to be air blown. The fibres are clustered into bundles of 12 fibres using a supporting web and the really clever bit is that rather than having to splice each individual fibre you can flatten out each bundle of 12 fibres and splice them at the same time. The expected limit for blowing a fibre of this size through sub duct is 2 km, so there is also less jointing to be done.
The advantages of this clever technology to Openreach are that we can splice less often and when we do have to splice we can do it more quickly. This means we will be able to build the big fibre cables or ‘spines’ supporting all our city builds in less time, with a less labour intensive and disruptive approach.
As we build bigger fibre networks to support the roll out of FTTP - especially in cities - we need to install higher fibre count spine cables to our exchanges. With these new air blown cables, it means we no longer need to pull in a few hundred metres at a time.
Getting new larger fibre count cables through busy city centres where access is difficult and where ducts are already often nearly full is a real headache for our operational teams. We expect this cable to take a lot of their pain away. All this means we will be able to build our big fibre spine networks to support Full Fibre ambitions more quickly and more efficiently.Openreach Chief Engineer, Andy Whale
The verbal description is best accompanied by a picture and the Fujikura website has a page describing the new cable and another page showing fusion splicing of 12 fibres at a time on a page describing a 1,728 fibre armoured cable.
On the subject of Leeds, extensive fibre deployment work has been observed in the City for a while and we can report that Fibre First FTTP activity is now appearing as live services ready for order and thus are in our mapping and package search systems. The first two exchange areas we've seen live FTTP are Headingley, which includes some overlap with G.fast areas and Moortown. The initial spotting has seen the amount of FTTP in Leeds jump from around 1,400 premises to 5,500 premises and if the pattern of other Fibre First exchanges is repeating there is a lot more to appear in the coming weeks.