Monojit Samaddar, Country Director, VIAVI Solutions, India

Since their inception, fibre optic networks have continually evolved and expanded. With the emergence of 5G and fibre-to-the-home, service providers are under pressure to increase their fibre footprint, completing massive deployments – to homes, businesses, data centres, towers and 5G cell sites – while striving to maintain the quality of experience and reduce operational expenses.

The demand for optical fibre cable (OFC) in India is fuelled by backhaul network upgrades, growth of fixed broadband, surging data centres, and a rising number of mobile devices. The pandemic in 2020, remote working and the disruptive growth of 5G have created an unprecedented demand for digital networks, making digital transformation a key priority for chief information officers while creating tremendous scope for faster fibre deployment and delivery of critical information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure.

Fibre optic tools for every technician

Fibre optic cleaning, inspection, testing and monitoring require various tool sets and capabilities to remain effective in today’s diverse communications technology landscape. Advanced fibre optic tools enable expedient certification, troubleshooting and maintenance, while monitoring equipment and cutting-edge optical time-domain reflectometer devices support the uninterrupted integrity of sensitive fibre optic networks. Together, these tools provide the means to deploy and sustain vital fibre optic networks and the quality

Fibre optic testing

The size and complexity of today’s fibre networks have highlighted the importance of robust fibre testing and monitoring, and the next generation of fibre optic test tools are faster, easier to use and more powerful than ever before.

Testing OFC networks is an essential part of fibre optic installation, as well as ongoing maintenance, and following some fundamental fibre testing best practices will lead to safer, more efficient and reliable fibre deployments and network activation. It is estimated that 250,000 technicians will be tasked with the installation and maintenance of new fibre over the next three years, in order to keep up with the demand for broadband deployments. This rapid growth is driving the need for fibre certification tools that are extremely easy to use in order to ensure successful service turn-up, thereby avoiding activation delays, increased churn and excessive installation costs.

Fibre monitoring

Optical cabling supports the communication infrastructure of the connected world, yet it is susceptible to frequent cuts, misplaced construction digs, rodent infestations, water ingress, security intrusions and many other potential hazards. Maintaining optimal fibre condition and performance requires advanced fibre monitoring practices to identify and react to problems quickly. A robust fibre optic monitoring system should be capable of accurately detecting fibre faults from the source all the way to the subscriber, leading to quicker and more precise detection of faults and their locations in order to reduce reaction and repair times. An integrated fibre monitoring and management system is key to facilitating the detection of faults, fibre degradation and security intrusions, and alerting the system administrator in real time when threats to fibre optic network integrity are detected. Monitoring systems can also be used to demarcate and isolate the issues arising due to faults in network elements, and to proactively analyse depletion and other fibre optic performance metrics over time, enabling higher bandwidth with improved data integrity and efficient spending on infrastructure.

Impact of fibre on 5G

Fibre is important for 5G front-haul, particularly for small cell deployment, as it achieves the speed, latency and bandwidth requirements. By using fibre in the fronthaul and access networks, telecom operators can significantly reduce the cost of backhaul, helping them generate higher revenues and improve the overall quality of experience.

OFC networks and smart cities

The government has emerged as a key contributor to OFC demand in India. Programmes initiated by the government such as Digital India and the Smart Cities Mission rely on strong fibre connectivity to function seamlessly. An extensive, robust and scalable communications infrastructure lies at the core of smart city development, and an enduring ICT backbone is imperative for the sustainable development of smart cities. Optical fibre networks and next-generation infrastructure is essential for applications such as transportation, public safety, security, infrastructure connected to the internet of things, machine-to-machine communication, and utilities.

Optical fibre networks are the backbone of bandwidth-intensive applications in a smart city. In shaping the cities of tomorrow, the telecom industry stakeholders are making collaborative efforts to deploy and accelerate technology penetration under the Smart Cities Mission.