AFL offers industry-leading solutions for LTE and 5G fronthaul and backhaul. As wireless data traffic continues to grow exponentially, the demands placed on the access network also continue to grow in two important ways. First, through the addition of more small cell sites covering smaller areas, and secondly through the increase in data traffic to and from each cell site. A further development is in the implementation of CRAN (Centralized or Cloud Radio Access Network) which centralizes base station functions for several small sell sites.
Key challenges faced by operators include planning the connections to many small cell sites, making (and getting permits for) pathways and hand-holes to connect all of these sites, and planning future flexibility in case more small cells need to be added later—or another wireless operator comes along, representing a potential customer and revenue stream for the access network. Here again, the key characteristics of the AFL Converged Access Network provide critical advantages.
Expandability. AFL’s Wrapping Tube Cable (WTC) with SpiderWeb Ribbon® (SWR®) provides the highest amount of ribbon fibers in the smallest space possible. This allows more fiber to be deployed in the same duct space and coiled in smaller handholes, easing installation and permitting, and allowing for future growth. AFL also offers highly modular connectivity solutions which can be expanded and modified to accommodate new customers.
Flexibility. AFL’s solutions allow the Access Network to be redesigned to accommodate new customers and usage cases. The design of SWR allows for simple separation of one to 12 fibers at a time. The use of highly modular components in our ASCEND panels and other products allows for changes to the number of fibers connected, the use and type of Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) employed, and more. This allows the access network operator to build a network today with the confidence that they can adjust it as future demand patterns change.
Accessibility. It is one thing to design a network that is expandable and flexible, but to make use of those characteristics, someone needs to go out in the field and make a change. AFL creates craft-friendly solutions so that the change process simple.
- SWR technology makes it easy to identify and separate any number of fibers from an existing cable to make a new connection.
- Wrapping Tube Cable is flexible enough to store easily in a handhole or aerial slack loop.
- Closures are easy to enter, change, exit and re-seal.
- Fujikura core alignment fusion splicers, like the 90S and 90R, make splicing easy to perform and document. AFL leads the industry in solutions for splicing dissimilar fibers like 200 µm to 250 µm and bend insensitive to standard fiber.
- Test and inspection equipment is easy to learn and use, making documentation a cinch.