The UK’s demand for data is surging. Research from Ofcom indicates that the average adult spent four hours a day online at the peak of lockdown, up from just over three hours in 2018. Simultaneously, the meteoric rise in working from home means that the way the UK population is using the internet is changing. Video conference services, for example, are in higher demand than ever, with adult users of Zoom skyrocketing from 659,000 in January 2020 to 13 million just three months later in April.
However, in the face of rising demand the UK’s infrastructure is struggling to keep up. Though superfast broadband (30mbps) is available to 95% of the population, the vast majority of connections are Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC), which relies on old-fashioned copper wiring to link the cabinet to a given user’s property. This kind of connection can often be put under strain by data-intensive services like streaming, and is growing increasingly unsuitable for the modern world.
The alternative is Fibre-to-the-Home technology (FTTH), which uses optical fibres from the cabinet to the user’s house to provide a vastly superior connection. Currently, only 27% of UK homes have access to FTTH connections, despite government targets to provide 85% coverage for gigabit-capable broadband by 2025. Obviously, this is severely off the mark at present, so new techniques for blowing in cables must be adopted to speed up fibre deployment and achieve this target.
Challenges to FTTH deployment:
At present, FTTH deployment faces a number of issues that are slowing its roll-out across the UK. The recognised technique for blowing fibre optic cables into properties can be long and arduous, and must be individually undertaken for each given property. Firstly, an appointment is made with the homeowner to install the house connection, with a later appointment made to blow-in and seal the cables. This necessitates two technicians – one to blow-in the cables, and another to receive them.
Understandably, this procedure comes with its limitations – namely, the presence of the homeowner is required for both appointments as property access is necessary. Additionally, two technicians are required to properly install the cables, with one at the cabinet and the other needed at the home. While this process can prove difficult enough applied to one home, when extrapolated to entire neighbourhoods or cities it quickly becomes a logistical nightmare.
Introducing RAUSPEED EasyConnect:
A potential solution to speeding up fibre roll-out is the RAUSPEED EasyConnect blowing-in box. With EasyConnect, internal access to a customer’s home is only required once to establish the house connection, with the rest of the installation able to be completed safely and securely from outside the property.
Here, the blowing-in box is installed at the end of the micro-duct within the home, which can then receive the cable that is blown-in from a single technician located outside at the cabinet. By halving the number of home visits and technicians, time and labour is freed up to be used more effectively elsewhere, further speeding up the rollout.
The ability to blow-in cables without the need to access the home is groundbreaking for FTTH installation, with the benefits equally felt by provider and consumer alike. If the UK Government’s 2025 target of 85% coverage for gigabit-capable broadband is to be achieved, then this kind of technology will be instrumental in ensuring that the UK bounces back from interruptions in rollout and economic disruption caused by the recent pandemic.