South Africa is currently experiencing phenomenal activity in the roll-out of fibre optic cables. While no-one disputes that the installation of fibre presents tremendous opportunities, the question being asked is how will this demanding initiative affect consumers’ Internet connection costs?
With speeds of up to 100 Mbps, fibre will provide unsurpassed Internet speeds. It is also exceptionally reliable, highly secure and able to withstand testing weather conditions.
“However, this large-scale, challenging roll-out comes with a hefty price tag,” cautions Bradley Hemphill, Managing Director of EES Live (Pty) Ltd. EES Live is a professional services company specialising in networks, data centres, security and building management systems.
If the country is to replace its 5 million copper cables with fibre optics, the cost will be roughly R60 billion, according to figures recently released by Finance24.
“It is vital that fibre network installation be carried out in the most efficient, yet cost-effective, manner possible,” Hemphill continues.
Athi Ntisana, Engineer, EES Live, provides some insight into where and how performance can be optimised and at the same time costs contained. He states that a high cost component in the roll-out of fibre impacting on both CAPEX and OPEX is that of labour for high volume fibre connections.
“Operations, such as installing optical connections, that require skilled labour or long hours need to be managed,” explains Ntisana. “This is particularly important when moving from long distance networks to short distance distributing access networks, in which instance access networks’ optical connections increase six times, resulting in high labour costs.”
It is therefore vital to select the most suitable optical connection. It appears that previously, connector technology usage was not based on the required application but on the readiness and availability of technology. Currently, access networks have three technologies to choose from, namely fusion splicing, mechanical splicing and factory pre-terminated. Fusion splicing has been largely used to date.
Requirements on which selection of connector technology should be based are:
- Streamlined, easy, cost-effective installation and maintenance
- Flexible connections in the network that can easily be added to, joined or removed
- Ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions
- Effective optical performance and secure transmission of information
- Straightforward connectivity and fibre organising system
When examining the three connector technologies closely, it becomes apparent that the factory pre-terminated technology option is the most suitable as it meets all five requirements.
“Not only does factory pre-terminated technology deliver quick, streamlined roll-out of low cost fibre, but it is flexible, robust and reliable,” Ntisana concludes.