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Why FTTO networks are driving sustainability and transformation

Why FTTO networks are driving sustainability and transformation

With Digital Transformation increasingly becoming mainstream, Arafat Yousef, Managing Director – Middle East and Africa, Nexans Cabling Solutions, draws attention to how FTTO network architectures are better suited for scale, agility and for varied use cases.

With the arrival of 5G, Smart Cities and connected cars – large scale, intelligent networks promise to dominate country, regional and global landscapes over the next 10 years. Wireless and wired networks are growing tremendously with intelligent and semi-intelligent sensors distributed at the Edge, relaying trends and insights, downstream to decision makers.

Sustainability, innovation, efficiency and citizenship promise to be in-country hallmarks for the UAE with the appointment of the Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Advanced Sciences, Artificial Intelligence and Happiness and Wellbeing. Along with smart production, distribution, consumption – conservation of energy will increasingly become an integral part of the UAE’s or any nation’s most valued system.

A study published by the European Commission points out that the global ICT industry generates up to 2% of all global CO2 emissions. Networking components and cabling, computing and data centres, connected devices and sensors, all consume energy and are responsible for generating heat and emitting CO2 into the environment. As the digital economy grows exponentially, so will consumption of energy and production of heat and CO2.

Similar to all aspects of the ICT industry, Digital Transformation has triggered a wave of efficiency standards into networking and connectivity infrastructure. In the past, while twisted pair copper cabling may have been sufficient to meet all the requirements of enterprises, going forward additional efficiency metrics and architectures will be required. Increasingly, the advantages of the role of Fibre To The Office (FTTO) are getting highlighted, as being beneficial over traditional LAN.

FTTO is a hybrid network consisting of fibre optic and twisted pair copper patch cords with connectors. In an FTTO network environment, fibre is laid from the central distribution switch right into the office floor, where it ends in active FTTO switches within the workplace. The last leg of 3 to 5M is connected through standard twisted pair patch cords.

The advantages and disadvantages of FTTO over traditional LAN is quite stark. Fibre optic cabling used in FTTO, as a medium is a dielectric and does not allow the flow of current. Hence, it does not generate heating and electromagnetic wave inductions. It also does not require thick insulation covers, which reduces the bulk and has almost no practical limits to a single length of cabling.

Twisted pair cabling has a core length of copper metal and no matter how pure, the cable does generate heat, as well as electromagnetic wave inductions, whenever there are fluctuations in the current strength. Because of these limitations, there is a maximum length that the copper cable can be used for.

The energy consumption pattern of copper cabling and its total cost of ownership are significantly higher than FTTO. In a traditional copper-based Ethernet network with 1,000 ports, the annual electricity consumption is estimated to be 82,322kWh. However, if the same network is built using an FTTO architecture, the electricity consumption would be 30,380kWh per year.

In general, with an FTTO architecture, energy bills can be 70% lower, total cost of ownership is reduced by 40% and installation time is reduced by 60%.

Some of the other advantages of FTTO networks can be listed as below:

  • Fibre is the most futureproof cabling technology currently available
  • Less energy is required to drive data in FTTO networks versus copper networks
  • Less energy and fibre optic material create less electromagnetic interference
  • Due to smaller diameter there are a greater number of FTTO cables in the same space
  • FTTO networks require less equipment, consume less energy and require less cooling
  • Based on the fibre optic materials, FTTO networks are less prone to fire and damage

While FTTO networks provide huge gains over twisted pair copper connections, they are best suited for certain types of environments. FTTO networks work best when the scale is large, with a huge number of ports and over long distances.

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