Broadband News

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.

Fujikura air blown fibre ribbon cable
Structure of Fujikura 432F Air Blow Fibre Cable
Splicing of 12 fibres from a ribbon cable at the same time
How 12 fibres are fusion spliced at the same time

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 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.


So can this be blown directly through one of the ~100mm dia ducts or does it still have to go through the black/yellow stripe ~25mm dia ducting?

  • craski
  • 3 months ago

Will be blown through sub duct, i.e a tube inside the 100m duct

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 3 months ago

Hmmm Spider Web Cable, ok cool name...
Splicing 12 fibres, ok sounds very impressive and new fangled...
432 fibres per cable, sounds like alot, all good then
2019 and first... ERROR
Page 18

  • Antony1
  • 3 months ago

What exactly is the error revealed on page 18?

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 3 months ago

There is no error on page 18, like the links you provided within the story it shows some nice images and lists some nice "features" like 12 fibre splicing next to the product and it being available in 288-864 fibre counts. It all sounds very exciting and greatas you mention in your news item.

Im sure it is and was amazing in the year given away in the catalog link and on the very first page (top right) of the catalog.

Amazing its taken around 4 years for a 'worlds first' use of such a cable construction eh? I spose Putting a new sheath on old tech though could in some way make it a first ;)

  • Antony1
  • 3 months ago

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