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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2003


New ADSS drop cable targeted at fiber-to-the-home applications

New ADSS drop cable targeted at fiber-to-the-home applications

"Alcoa's AFL Telecommunications announces the release of its new ADSS drop cables, specifically designed for fiber-to-the-subscriber (FTTx) applications."

Article in Lightwave.

Steve Ferguson with AFL gave me a sample at the UTC Expo show this week -- I think AFL has a real winner with this cable.

We've been telling other FTTH (fiber to the home) players that we think the reliability of aerial "drops" (the last 100 feet between the pole and the home or office) will be a long-term reliability problem for folks using traditional cable TV attachment clamps with some of the lightweight ADSS (all dielectric self-supporting) fiber drop cables offered by other vendors. Historically, in the coax cable world, problems with the final drop have been the source of 70% of cable TV maintenance "truck rolls". In the FTTH world, every other component of the fiber cable plant besides the drop cable has been used and proven reliable over the last 15 years or more. Not so with ADSS fiber drop cables designed specifically for FTTH use.

We've worked with ADSS cables for years and we've seen that the design of the attachment hardware is critical. Unlike the coax cables used by cable TV companies, ADSS fiber cables should not be attached by pinching or grabbing the cable at one point. Instead, we prefer formed-wire spiral "dead-ends" that grasp the cable over a length of several inches (for drop cables) to several feet (for longer span, higher fiber-count cables). Preformed Line Products (PLP) has some good inexpensive dead-ends designed specifically for FTTH. Much larger versions of these PLP dead-ends have proven themselves on ADSS spans of 2000 feet in heavy ice storms.

Coax drop cable clamps, already in use in at least one big FTTH project, will work OK with ADSS drop cables -- for a while. However, by concentrating the transfer of all the load on the cable at just one place, they'll be likely to break fibers when the cable experiences heavy winds or an ice storm.

AFL's ADSS drop cable is designed to be much more crush-resistant than other vendors' ADSS drop cables so that even if an installer uses a traditional coax cable clamp, the cable has a good chance of surviving storms. (AFL still recommends the spiral formed wire dead-ends as preferred hardware especially in areas with heavier ice loads.)

[For more info on the history of coaxial drop cable reliability issues, see Jim Farmer's classic handbook, Modern Cable Television Technology.]


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