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Case Study: How splicing technology has helped make Hull the ultrafast capital of the UK

28 April 2017

The Task

KCOM - a telecommunications service provider servicing Hull, England - provides communication, data and cloud services for business and residential customers using its existing copper and fibre networks. It is the first Internet Service Provider to provide FTTH in the UK, offering speeds of up to 250mbps.

In order to give its customers future-proof, ultrafast broadband with a much faster and reliable internet connection than ever before, KCOM implemented "Lightstream", which uses the latest technology made from glass fibre rather than copper.

To successfully deploy this kind of network, however, KCOM needed the highest quality splicing and testing technology to ensure its new and improved network was running as it should.

KCOM has worked with Fujikura Europe - one of the world's leading manufacturers of fibre optic cables and equipment for installation, measurement and testing - for more than 15 years now, supplying KCOM with fusion splicers and FID fibre testers.

Some of KCOM's FTTH connections can be in awkward positions and often are located at great heights on telegraph poles, making it very difficult for technicians to work comfortably splicing cables and testing the network. Therefore, KCOM also needed a small, lightweight, portable and durable solution.

The Solution

Currently, KCOM uses Fujikura's 12S fusion splicer, the smallest, lightest and most portable tool of its kind in the world. Weighing less than two pounds and having a footprint of approximately 6" x 5", the 12S provides KCOM technicians with an unprecedented level of flexibility for the most challenging splicing applications. Software updates are accomplished via the internet, allowing technicians to quickly and conveniently update their software as new splice programs become available. Furthermore, the 12S's functional transit case also serves as a workstation when needed and the large 4.5" scratch resistant monitor is viewable in direct sunlight - features of which are necessary for products that are often exposed to the elements. This splicer is also ideal for KCOM technicians since the tool has a strap that the technicians can put around their necks and work comfortably with.

KCOM also uses Fujikura's FID 30-R for testing. It identifies the light power presence in optical fibres through three different detecting functions: TONE, TRAFFIC, and ONU. The 30-R includes a trigger operated clamp to macro-bend the fibre in order to leak light which is then detected by two photo sensors. It can detect the presence of several kinds of light signal and indicate signal directions. Furthermore, the 30-R's trigger lock function ensures the fibre is clamped with constant pressure, while the 2.4" colour LCD touch panel, equipped with a backlight function, allows KCOM technicians to view the estimated optical power in the fibre and select the desired wavelength of 1310nm, 1490nm, or 1550nm. 

It is easy to use and gives KCOM an accurate power loss to record when an installation is completed.  KCOM's pre-build and installation teams use the 30-R at each step of the process to ensure the end user gets the best possible connection.

Fujikura Europe also provides training to KCOM technicians, offering full support with any questions KCOM may have relating to the FID 30-R or the 12S.

 

Outcome

So far, KCOM has installed over 4 million metres of Lightstream fibre, providing customers with a much faster, reliable, and future-proof solution - meaning no buffering or freezing.

The Fujikura Europe products in use by KCOM offer quick, accurate results and time saving benefits for KCOM's field-based technicians. This increase in productivity has helped KCOM deploy its FTTH network to over 40,000 customers.

Hull is now the only UK city where it is standard for ultrafast broadband to be deployed and KCOM is hoping that over 75% of its network will have access to Lightstream by the end of 2017.

  "Fujikura Europe has provided us with fantastic products tailored to meet KCOM's requirements. In a fast-paced, ever-changing network, these products have allowed us to build and test our network and provide our customers with LIGHTSTREAM results."

-John McMillan, Field Team Leader at KCOM