Friday, September 14, 2018

We've Got the Drop For You

Updates on Drop Cable

With construction season winding down, many of us had our heads in the sand just trying to cover the day-to-day needs. I wanted to take a quick moment to highlight new options in drop cable that were released this year. Whether you're deploying full FTTP or fiber deep, these are products you'll want to know about.

24 Fiber Flat Drop

You've asked for it, and it's here. Commscope now provides 24 count flat drop cable! This will double your density on running laterals using standard service drop clamps. As the access network extends capacity for 5G, higher fiber counts to the edge are critical. Reduced permitting with flat drop cable is a potential option to increase time to market for small cell and other FTTx applications.

You may be wondering, if all 24 fibers are in one tube, how do you tell them apart? The second set of 12 in Commscope's cable have a black band intermittently on the 250µm fiber coating. What about fiber 20 (the second black fiber)? It has a clear coating with black bands. Other suppliers will use a blue yard wrapped around the second 12, but those can become unraveled or lost in a midspan application. You can request a quote on 24 fiber flat drop cable here.

Commscope Pushable Drop Cable

Pushable Drop

Commscope also released a Pushable Drop solution in 2018. Initially available as single fiber in assemblies and bulk, this fluted design offers a uniquely flexible and stiff product for fast installations. The cable is designed with a 3mm OD and 1.5mm fiberglass subunit with 900µm tight buffer to be used in ducts ranging from 6mm to 10mm.

The cable can be pushed up to 500ft by hand, and jetted up to 1970ft with air. As with any pushed or jetted product, duct integrity is critical for optimal results. The strippable fiberglass GRP rod subunit gives the Commscope Pushable Drop an unparalleled rugged design, while maintaining a cable with non-preferential bending properties.

Assemblies of the Pushable Drop can be built using a rugged pushable SC-APC connector, DLX Hardened and Hardened Full Size. Multiple bulk fiber cable designs are also planned for release in the future.

2-Fiber Hardened Drop Terminals and Assemblies

While 12 Fiber Hardened Multifiber Optical Connectors (HMFOCs) have been around for a few years, 2 Fiber HMFOC are new to the marketplace. While FTTP requires a single fiber drop, each wireless radio requires at least 2 fibers for transmit and receive paths. Small cell and C-RAN mobile networks require densification in often rugged environments as well as areas where overbuilding the existing network is challenging. Commscope took a rapid deployment solution from the FTTP playbook using hardened terminals and drop cables.

Commscope MHT Terminal with 2-Fiber HMFOC Ports
You can now find 2-fiber hardened designs in the Commscope MHT and DFJ Optitip® compatible product lines. Strand mount small cells can especially benefit from the compact and flexible form factor, used for fast and efficient fronthaul or backhaul deployments. Additional configurations and designs are planned for 2 fiber HMFOC, so stay tuned!

DFJ Optitip® Compatible HMFOC 2 Fiber Assembly

4-Fiber Drop Breakout Assemblies

Realflex 4 Fiber Hardened Drop Assembly
While these assemblies are broken out into single fiber connectors at each end, you can simplify large FTTP deployments by running these Commscope Realflex 4 Fiber assemblies. These assemblies are another plug and play solution for durable and reliable service connections. They maximize line crew and splicing resources in high density FTTH installations.

Fiber access networks are getting more complex as we move toward an increasingly mobile environment. If you're not dropping off a single fiber to a home, you could be dropping eight fibers at a small cell site, or two fibers to a radio head. All of these drops need to be easy and fast to deploy with hopefully a reduced impact to permitting, labor and cost. Traditional cable designs and deployment methods struggle to fit that mold, and Commscope is clearly ahead of the curve when it comes to solutions for FTTx. Contact our sales team for more information on any of these products today.

Optitip® is a registered trademark of Corning Incorporated

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Q&A with the President of Comstar Supply

View From The Top

5 Questions with Comstar Supply President Chad Punchard

Chad Punchard
Chad Punchard
President, Comstar Supply

The network construction season is in full swing and Comstar Supply President Chad Punchard recently reflected on what the company has experienced over the first six months of 2018 and what he expects moving forward the rest of the year.

Q1. We're about at the half-way point of 2018, can you describe your thoughts on the telecom industry and distribution after 6 months.

Chad: The construction of telecommunications networks continues to accelerate at a rapid pace. As almost everyone has heard at this point, 5G continues to be the largest of the many drivers behind the growth of our industry. Ironically, we are not seeing the true impact in construction and building of the networks just yet due to set backs across the country with pole license agreements and other legal hurdles that must be worked out before the true impact of the growth will be felt across our industry. It’s a true “hurry up and wait” period we are all in. The wave is coming, it’s just a matter of time.

Q2. What are some of the concerns or trends you're addressing for customers?

Chad: In addition to the issues previously mentioned, carriers are being impacted by recent consolidation within the industry. Because of these transactions, carriers are struggling to keep contractors busy when growth is this wide spread. We feel our ability to advance information and training directly to our customers is now even more critical.

One growing concern for customers is the uncertainty of OSP material availability as the construction of networks really breaks loose. Comstar’s position and partnership with leading suppliers in the industry allows us to instill confidence with our customer base that they will be taken care of when the market get tight.

Q3. Have there been any recent surprises Comstar has experienced?

Chad: Consolidation is never a surprise, but it continues to impact our industry.

As we talk to suppliers, manufacturers and customers, one surprise is how many people are starting to heed the warning signs that our industry is just in an awkward period. As I mentioned, network builds are being held-up with issues such as pole attachment agreements. Once theses get worked out we are a few large network builds away from materials and labor becoming the bottleneck again. If and when this happens, we’re asking our customers – are you in control of your materials or not? With the shear amount of builds on the table over the next 3 years, having the project critical labor and materials will become increasingly important.

Q4. Several large network projects have been announced, even Dish has publicized its intention to build a network that will support 5G and their IoT efforts. How has that affected customers and Comstar?

Chad: To a degree we have talked around a number of them in previous answers here. Verizon One seems to have the most visibility and press associated with it and the one that will impact our industry the most in terms of materials and labor. And certainly other wireless carriers are all aggressively building out markets for 5G rollout as quickly as they can.

Other types of project are also on the rise. From major MSO builds across the country to municipalities joining the network ownership club - all are making fiber-optic network construction the next gold rush. Content providers are significantly impacting opportunities for FTTX projects. And there are massive amounts of fiber diversification efforts in larger Tier 1 cities active. All of these infrastructure builds are leading to supporting 5G and the Internet of Things.

The affect of these are huge for the entire industry. The supply chain will become taxed with keeping up with this growth. It will take strong partnerships across business lines to ensure network growth keeps up with customer demand. 

Q5. What's up next for Comstar?

Chad: Comstar has been very fortunate in our history and that is we go where our customers go. That includes markets and territories. We have adapted well over time and it has proven successful for both Comstar and our customers. Our growth story will continue to be predicated on how we differentiate ourselves in terms of flexibility and being a nimble entrepreneurial company focused on customers. Nothing is more important, especially today, than having a flexible partner that understands how to navigate the relationship between manufacturer, distributor and customer.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Comstar Adds Cyber Power to Portfolio

Founded in 1997, Cyber Power Systems (USA), Inc., designs and manufactures a high quality line of award-winning products, including uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, power distribution units (PDUs), surge protectors, mobile charging devices, connectivity devices and Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTx) backup power solutions. Meeting the growing power needs of businesses and people has helped our organization achieve worldwide success.

As a true manufacturer, Cyber Power is driven by a mission to deliver the highest standard of product quality, performance, and customer value in the industry. With control over the production process and supply chain, Cyber Power can maintain inventory with prices up to 20% lower than the competition.

Cyber Power offers power protection with the most comprehensive features and specifications available. They lead the way in ENERGY STAR® certification, especially with the largest selection of certified UPS systems from 350VA – 10kVA. Additional areas where Cyber Power leads the industry are with LCD functionality and battery management technology.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Annoucing our new Midwest Regional Sales Manager

Comstar Supply is proud to announce that David Hill has joined the company as Midwest Regional Sales Manager. In this position, David is responsible for all sales activities in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan.

David Hill
Midwest Regional Sales Manager
Comstar Supply

Previously Eastern Regional Sales Manager at Nextgen, David has more than 30 years of experience in the wholesale distribution industry. He served more than 23 years in the broadband sales division of Graybar, in addition to sales and support functions within their electric division.

“We’re excited to add David to our sales team and think he is an extremely strong addition to our Midwest operations,” said Todd Rhen, SVP Sales for Comstar. “With David joining our veteran sales team, we have built an experienced staff that continues to delight our customers with industry-leading service levels and performance.”

David earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of North Carolina - Greensboro, and resides in Dublin, OH.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Holy Grail of 5G

What’s real, what’s legend, and what are the ramifications for network operators, construction companies, and distributors

Photo: © artistrobd

A connected network supporting 5G wireless traffic and all things Internet continues to generate news across the globe. Recently, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri described 5G as, “the best wireless technological leap that’s ever happened in the history of the business.” Not to be outdone, Verizon Chief Network Officer proclaimed 5G “has the potential to usher in the fourth industrial revolution.”

Whatever the hyperbole, everyone agrees that 5G and the surrounding Internet of Things (IoT) – most of which are simply left to the imagination at this point – will completely alter the landscape of our business and personal lives.

So, to that end, what is also clear is that fiber-optic cable remains the conduit of choice to support this technology. All of the major U.S. wireless carriers are in the construction phase of their network. T-Mobile expects to have 5G in 30 markets, AT&T in a dozen more, and Verizon with at least 5 cities, by the end of the year. In fact, the Fiber Broadband Association estimates that 1.3 million miles of fiber cable would be required to provide full 5G service to just the top 25 metropolitan land areas in the US (assuming all 5G cells were served by fiber connections).

Couple those figures with a recent announcement by Dish investing $1 billion over the next 3 years to build its own network, Google Fiber progressing on their fiber-to-the-home plans, and rumors of Facebook and Amazon entertaining the space. And this doesn’t even include tower providers, traditional carriers, CLECs, and ISPs tackling builds to keep up with their own enterprise customer demand.

One has to wonder – how do we get it all built?

We all know that fiber will be installed at record levels over the next 2-5 years. There is a debate whether or not the ability to procure fiber will be in allocation or not, but there is no debate on the immense amount of network that’s going to be built. The key for future fiber networks will be density – not only in fiber mileage but fiber strands within the core network. At Comstar, we are already seeing many of our customers looking for larger count fiber – from 432- and 864-count, all the way up to 1,728-count – and much less demand in the smaller amounts.

The eventual constriction of fiber cable availability will trickle down to all network construction outside plant materials as providers race to be first to market and complete 5G buildouts.

There is one other underlying consequence of the 5G buildout – is there enough qualified labor to support construction of the network? Inevitably, there will be a labor shortage so it may be even more critical for carriers to take back control of their materials knowing that they may have to branch out from their traditional contactors to get jobs completed.

Questions every carrier should be starting to ask include: How do we find new contractors? Do these new contractors have the relationships to get the industry-best pricing? Do they have the appropriate credit to procure materials such as fiber cable? Do they value the same quality of materials as the end user?

Labor uncertainty shouldn’t cause project uncertainty. From project managers to supply chain supervisors, network deployment to construction divisions, every department from installers to the C-suite must already be thinking about these challenges in an effort to plan accordingly on how the coming 5G holy grail will affect timelines, budgets, and access to mission-critical OSP materials.

To learn how Comstar Supply can more effectively help you manage your materials and network construction projects, please feel free to contact us at 866-326-6782 or reach out to your local Comstar sales manager.

Monday, January 29, 2018

What Makes a PON Power Meter

A fiber optic power meter can be configured to receive the wavelengths used in a PON network, but testing those wavelengths indidivually from either direction poses its share of problems in a dense access network. The efficiency of the technician in this environment is paramount, and I would like to tell you about a power meter that corners the market for PON applications.

Years ago EXFO released its first PON power meter, the PPM-350 which was more than just a PON wavelength calibrated instrument. The PPM-350 series featured an exclusive, patented pass-through desgin that allows for concurrent upstream/downstream measurement.

The pass-through design allows for a single test anywhere in the optical distribution network, and it displays all signals simultaneously. You can add an option for downstream RF video at 1550nm if the network requires it.

An additional benefit of the pass-through design is that the customer's link under test will remain up while the tests are performed. Depending on which wavelength is experiencing difficulty, they would maintain use of service to some capacity instead of being entirely removed from the network.

Combine the efficiency of performing a single test with the pass-through capability with the advanced reporting of the PPM-350 series, and you truly realize the time-saving potential of this device. The original PPM-350 features a job editor that allows you to pre-configure upcoming jobs in the instrument's memory. Once on site, simply select the appropriate job ID, ONT number and location for super fast data collection. Reports are quickly generated from the device or software on a PC.

As time and technology march on, new PON technologies already being deployed run at different wavelengths than B/E/GPON. If you're considering implementing a next generation PON, NG-PON2 has some distinct advantages for layering on an existing PON standard. While there are so many elements to consider depending on the next-gen technology you select, there is a power meter already able to meet those needs.

The new PPM-350D power meter from EXFO combines all of the features from the previous 350C series, plus it offers the world's first PON-aware™ enabled power meter. That means the PPM-350D automatically detects which PON is in use on the link and returns the reading based on automatically adjusted pass/fail thresholds. So whether testing 1Gbps or 10Gbps service, this device can eliminate costly guesswork and time that would be wasted calibrating the instrument.

The good news is, no matter what technology comes next, the current infrastructure designs will be used. The test methods have a familiar, efficient face with EXFO as they continue to stay ahead of the power meter pack.

You can find information on the PPM-350D power meters in the Fiber Loss Testing Section of our website, and you can contact our sales team with any questions.