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The Network Operating Costs of Fiber Cable Management Systems

Fiber Optic
Posted by James Donovan on 30 November 2016 Connect with James on LinkedIn Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Fiber Network Operating Costs:

As a means of keeping operational network costs down, service providers around the world are increasingly turning to systems integrators to install their networks.

This practice allows the service provider’s technicians to focus on operations and maintenance, rather than network installation. There is, however, an inherent risk in this practice.

As the purchasing decision for the fiber cable management system moves from the service provider’s engineering group to the systems integration prime contractor, the cable management features of the distribution system are generally not specified.

What can happen, then, is the equipment installed may lack key features and functionalities. In light of the importance of proper cable management within the ODF, the service provider needs to specify the basic requirements for the cable management system.

Industry specific standards:

There are several industry-standard specifications that can assist service providers in writing specifications for their cable management systems.

Two of these specifications are:

  • Telcordia Generic Requirements for Fiber Distribution Frames GR-449-CORE, Issue 2, July 2003
  • Network Equipment Building System (NEBS) Generic Equipment Requirements, TR-NWT-000063

Relative Cost and True Value of Fiber Cable Management

In looking at the initial purchase cost of the typical fiber cable management system in comparison  to the overall cost of installing a complete network, one sees that the cable management system accounts for a small percentage of the overall network cost.

In a synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH) project involving SDH hardware, fiber cable management equipment, OSP fiber cables and full installation and turn-up, the ODF equipment may run only 1- to 2-percent of the overall network cost, depending on configuration and fiber count.

When the fiber cable management system is viewed as part of the entire network, including the copper and coax portions, the fiber management cost drops to less than 0.1-percent of the total cost.

Cost and Value

While the fiber cable management cost is small in relation to the overall system cost, it is the one area through which all the signals in the fiber network route, the one area in which the future flexibility and usability of the fiber network can be most affected.

Yet even though the fiber cable management system’s quality is critical to network reliability and network operations’ cost- effectiveness, the sole consideration in many purchases is the price.

But initial cost is only one part of the total cost of ownership and doesn’t give a true indication of the other factors that go into the real cost. A 15-percent difference in fiber cable management system price will result in negligible savings in the overall network cost, but it could cost hundreds of thousands in lost revenue and higher operating expense.

The focus of the purchasing decision for the cable management system should be on getting the most cost-effective system that provides the best cable management, flexibility, and growth capabilities, that helps ensure the long-term reliability of the fiber network while allowing easy reconfigurations and keeping operating costs at a minimum.

Reaping The Full Benefits of Fiber

As competition intensifies in telecommunications markets, low cost, high bandwidth, flexibility and reliability will be the hallmarks of successful service providers. Fiber is the obvious medium for networks with these characteristics.

But providers will miss many of fiber’s benefits unless they get the cable management right. Going with the cheapest approaches for fiber cable management can be “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

It can mean dramatically higher long-term costs and lower reliability. On the other hand, strong fiber cable management systems with proper bend radius protection, well-defined cable routing paths, easy fiber access and physical protection will enable providers to reap the full benefits of fiber and operate a highly profitable network.

Learn more:

For further learning around Fiber Optic Infrastructure explore our SP4420 Fiber Optic Infrastructure Specialist course.