Quality, design key to taking fibre to underserved markets

7th June 2024

By: Creamer Media Reporter


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Underserved low-income and rural areas are the next frontier for fibre network operators; however, to ensure high quality fibre connectivity is viable for these regions, quality components and clever design will be key.

“The market has been quiet for the past six months, with slow growth in major metropolitans, where FTTX has been adopted by most of the middle and high-income market. We expect growth to pick up as operators roll out to smaller towns, rural areas and lower income communities,” says specialist end-to-end fibre solutions provider Dartcom fibre connectivity and management solutions product manager and fibre expert George Martin.

While the cost of installing and managing fibre infrastructure is high, which makes it challenging to take a viable product to market at a price lower income communities can afford, Martin believes that high quality, preconnectorised solutions can reduce the cost of these roll-outs and bring down the total cost of ownership in the long term.

“The fibre to the home business is often ‘lean, mean and cheap’. Unfortunately, this often means using inferior components that do not withstand South Africa’s harsh weather for very long,” he says.

He cited examples of poor-quality cables and dome closures that are not suitable for the harsh South African sun and, when exposed to the elements for years, inferior cables may potentially lead to further challenges over time.

“When margins are important, operators need to be able to do the installation once and know it will work for the next 25 years. You do not want to have to keep going back to repair and replace components.”

One area where cost-cutting efforts can actually become costly is in the installation.

“Splicing requires some skill, and it is a time-consuming exercise. In high density residential units, installers may inadvertently disconnect one customer while connecting a new customer, meaning they have to be sent back later to rectify the mistake.”

Further, having the right length cables is also critical for efficiency and cost savings, he said, noting that significant savings can be achieved by using pre-terminated cable of the right length, which can be quickly and easily plugged in.

“Standard imports are bound to standard lengths, which may not always match the specific length requirements. This can lead to a great deal of waste. To make the model as cost effective as possible, it is important to work to the correct length.”

As demand in South Africa, which has 1.5-million to two-million fibre-connected homes, grows, Dartcom is preparing to help operators roll out the next wave of fibre quickly and cost effectively.

“We produce preconnectorised components and pre-terminated cables at custom lengths, which reduces time and cost in deployment. They require no splicing and reduce wasted cable. Importantly, the deployment rate is far faster than the standard splicing approach, and high-level skills are not required,” Martin pointed out.

He explained that opting for preconnectorised solutions allows operators and their construction partners to efficiently meet their key performance indicators while streamlining processes and boosting productivity.

Dartcom also has good stock availability with good stockholding and weekly shipments, as well as a local termination facility to manufacture the underground or aerial drops to specification.

“In a fiercely competitive market, we stand strong in our commitment to bringing quality solutions to market. We offer the full fibre turn-key solution in our portfolio, from street cabinets, cabling from curb to house, aerial fibre closures and components, to patch cables to plug into home optical network terminals and routers,” he concludes.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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