Accelerating Fiber-optic Network Expansions

By: Ulrich Schalling

As global data consumption rapidly increases, fiber optic network expansions are necessary to support customer demands for faster Internet connections and higher bandwidths. While there are many challenges that can arise during an expansion, trust that it can be optimally designed and executed with the help of digital and georeferenced data about the existing and planned infrastructure throughout the entire cycle, from the high-level design phase through final operations.

When setting up modern telecommunications networks, seamless coordination between all parties involved in all phases is a key success factor. Internal teams and external partners need access to up-to-date and consistent data sets at any time and from any place. Data consistency plays an important role in the planning and operation of gigabit networks. If the planning is not based on the real actual data, errors, high costs, and delays can occur. This can be counteracted by an integrated platform with a uniform data model and georeferenced information.

A digital solution that supports georeferenced data will ensure that all existing active and passive resources, capacities, and connections are taken into account and efficiently used for further expansion in the same or adjacent area. The consistency of active and passive network resources as well as the associated georeferenced data contributes to the success and profitability of a fiber optic expansion, both in the short and long term. A platform-based planning and documentation solution with an integrated geographic information system makes this possible.

Location intelligence supports investment decisions

Despite the high demand for fiber optic connections, not every expansion area is equally profitable. Telecommunications companies need a solid database and geospatial platform to base informed decisions on and ensure a successful expansion. Through spatial reference, data from different sources can be brought together on a digital map, then analyzed and visualized so that the information is provided transparently and can act as a "single point of truth" for all parties involved.

Location-specific data about the existing network, possible connection points, and potential customers deliver added value through the spatial overlay. Publicly available data from open data initiatives can also be relevant, for example, in the case of nature reserves with strict construction restrictions. Additionally, data on competition, demographic statistics, and economic information complement the overall picture in order to qualify and determine potential expansion areas spatially. Map visualization allows planners to see which areas are suitable for expansion and where high customer potential can be found. This information can be shared directly with stakeholders and decision-makers to make a valuable contribution to the investment decision.

Planning fiber optic network expansion based on consistent data

Typically, the first step is a high-level design and rough planning of the fiber-optic network expansion in a selected area. Depending on the number of homes or access points to be planned, this high-level design phase can either be highly automated using appropriate design automation software or carried out via manual steps with corresponding planning software. A detailed planning phase then needs to be conducted based on the decisions made in the high-level design phase and using the data generated during this step. This detailed planning phase comprises the determination of the different routes, for example along streets, the routing details where to connect the various homes, the determination of splice plans and patches for the final connections, signal paths across the fibers, as well as the definition and rollout planning for the various active components and devices. Carrying out such detailed planning with Excel tables is not only extremely time-consuming and confusing, it is also error-prone as dependencies and relationships are not immediately recognized.  

A digital data platform featuring integrated cable management and a telco active inventory solution is crucial to plan an expansion efficiently. With a uniform data model and georeferenced visualization in place, detailed planning is accompanied by a


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