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More and more operators are looking to deploy broadband optical access services either to the home or antenna, to quench the high speed internet and VoD services demands from the customers.The sheer volume of the fibers housed in a central office (CO) for fiber-to-the-home(FTTH) would give any engineer a long lasting migraine and a defect in a single link probably also a stroke, if it wasn't for the remote monitoring systems.
While active systems with costly operation, administration, and maintenance (OAM) services are deployed to detect, isolate and notify the operator of failures. It takes however an extra effort and time to troubleshoot the exact cause and repair the damaged cable. An engineer has to be at the location and check the optical fiber individually with the optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR) while all the services in the fiber are paused during this period. Thus it is not only a headache for the engineer but also a very costly to the operator as the services halted during troubleshooting period will result in harsh economic losses.
Consequently, as the fiber volumes get beyond apprehension, a fiber-aware solution is desired which would without interfering the ongoing services give more insights to the network. Unlike OAM, it would also pinpoint the location at the time of fault, making maintenance an easy deal. Well, this is not a make-believe technology. Such a technology does already exist, what we call here the reflector-based real-time monitoring.
The maturity of fiber optics network makes monitoring complex. The monitoring concept has to be revisited depending on the network configuration. Passive optical networks (PON), mainly FTTHs, utilize a power splitter to connect a single optical line terminal (OLT) to several optical network terminals (ONTs) at customer premises. The higher the number of split of the power splitter, the worse the resolution of the OTDR will be. Additionally, conventional OTDR can only be used only after discontinuing the services or when the fibers are being installed. This is why, a reflector-based monitoring comes as a boon.
Reflector-based real-time fault location technique employs reflectors at the customer ends which will then reflect out-of-band monitoring signal coupled at the CO. As the reflectors are installed at different positions, the reflected signal gives a good profile of each branching fiber. Therefore after comprehensive network planning and design to equip the subscriber links with the reflectors at the correct distances, the operators can enjoy the remote diagnosis via OTDR of the network which is fully automatic. The advantages of simplicity and cost efficiency stand out for the reflector-based system that makes this solution timeless.