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Air-blown fiber vs. conventional cabling

What's the real difference between air-blown fiber and conventional cabling?
Dec 9, 2013

PITTSBURGH — One of the most innovative network infrastructure solutions of the past decade has been air-blown fiber cabling.

“We place a tubing conduit system throughout the facility much like a plumbing system and then blow or launch the required fiber through those tubes,” DES President Bob Dagostino explained. “This technique gives customers a future-proofed and bandwidth-proofed topology as long as the building stands. This approach offers the best return on investment for the end user, especially when access into ceilings, floors and walls may be more difficult. It gives excellent reliability in the case of renovations, repair or restoration.”

Our business partner and manufacturer of air-blown fiber, Sumitomo Electric, breaks down the difference air-blown fiber and conventional cabling.

Scalability & Network MACs

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • Keeps exact pace of emerging technology

    • Blow out fiber and reuse anywhere in your network

    • At speeds of up to 150 feet per minute, install any fiber type anytime and anywhere for easy and quick upgrades in a matter of minutes or hours

  • Conventional Cabling

    • Requires installation of additional cable, often taking weeks or months to plan and install

    • Once dark fiber is laid, it is not reusable… wasting investment dollars

    • Upgrades reported to take up to “12 times longer and 10 times the cost” of the air-blown fiber solution

Capacity Control & Allocation

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • Minimizes the use of conduit space and provides virtually unlimited pathway, fiber, and bandwidth capacity

    • Tube cables provide simple demarcation of network components, destinations, and ownership

  • Conventional Cabling

    • Consumes conduit space, limiting network expansion, fiber count, and potential capacity

    • Difficult to define and allocate capacity ownership for current and future applications

Planning & Budgeting

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • Eliminates forecasting future technology requirements

    • Saves 70-90% of time and labor costs

    • Fast and easy installation reduces planning time, increases responsiveness with quick project turnarounds, and controls recurring costs for positive ROI

  • Conventional Cabling

    • Requires guessing future network growth and other unpredictable variables

    • Extensive project planning slows turnaround, especially for emergencies and network restoration. High installation costs increase recurring costs, inhibiting ROI

Work Environments & Operations

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • Blowing fiber results in no work site disruption and reduces or eliminates network downtime

    • Air-blown fiber can be “blown” easily anywhere at any time, including restricted access areas

  • Conventional Cabling

    • Pulling of cables requires construction work and installation crews disrupting the work environment and network operations

    • Difficulties, disruption, and additional expense when installing in restricted access or hazardous areas

Network Integrity

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • Continuous point-to-point, splice-free connectivity between and within buildings reduces attenuation for better transmission and signal integrity

  • Conventional Cabling

    • Necessitates splicing and connection at various points between and within buildings, adding further labor costs, increasing attenuation, and points of failure

Time & Labor Savings

  • Air-Blown Fiber

    • 3,000 feet of fiber can be blown in 30 minutes with only 2 installers

  • Conventional Cabling

    • It typically takes one-8 hour day with a minimum of 4 skilled installers to pull 3,000 feet of fiber optic cable

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