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FTTx: Fiber To The Home/Premises/Curb/etc. @ FOA

The term FTTx is used as a catch-all for fiber to the home, premises, business and even the hybrid fiber to the curb. Mostly we're concerned with fiber to the home, but we will discuss all options.

Broadband connections to the home began in 1997 with the installation of the first cable modems by CATV companies. Telcos were left to try to get high speeds over copper networks, but twisted pair wires were inferior to coax used by CATV. CATV became the dominant provider of broadband. In the years since, the backbones for both telco and CATV were upgraded to fiber, but even after the development of more than 20 generations of equipment, DSL (digital subscriber line) over twisted pair phone lines was clearly an inferior product. DSL continued until about 2020 when the last telco holdouts gave up.

Beginning around 2006-7, fiber to the home (FTTH) began emerging. Two factors made the cost low enough to justify replacing aging copper wires, the decline in fiber optic component costs following the fiber recession caused by the bursting of the Internet "bubble" in 2001 and the development of passive optical networks (PONs).

Fiber has now gained acceptance in the final frontier of telecom networks, the "last mile," the connection to the home. Many homes, apartments and businesses are still connected with aging, low performance copper telephone wire that cannot support connection speeds for broadband access. The costs of maintaining these old copper cable plants is also extremely high and increasing. Even when landlines are abandoned for mobile phones, the home needs a connection capable of providing high speed Internet access and fiber is the most logical - and economic - choice, providing gigabit+ speeds with plenty of room to upgrade.

Phone companies, cities, utilities, commercial service providers and even real estate developers are now realizing the best choice for upgrading the subscriber connection is fiber to the premises or home (FTTP, FTTH) although fiber to the curb (FTTC) or fiber to wireless (FTTW) may still be used where appropriate. Wireless connections to the home using WiFi are being used in many rural areas where line-of-sight wireless links are feasible. The possibility of delivering new services (the triple-play of phone, Internet and streaming video) and low priced components for with new network architectures make FTTx financially attractive. Companies are spending billions of dollars connecting millions of homes and offices with fiber. 

CATV companies who have used hybrid fiber-coax systems in their backbones for decades even have their own standard for fiber to replace coax, since the cost of fiber is reasonable and performance unlimited. Municipalities or private individuals are installing their own FTTH systems when phone or CATV companies won't do it soon enough. Electrical and telephone coops are installing fiber in areas where the usual service providers won't because they don't see a large return on their investment. Housing developers are learning about FTTH because their customers are demanding the highest bandwidth broadband connections.

FOA's Role In FTTH

As the worldwide professional organization for fiber optics and the widely-accepted certifying body for fiber optic techs, FOA has had a major role in FTTH development. As noted below, we have been involved in training and certifying fiber optic techs for FTTh from the beginning. But in the process of developing standards for FTTH tech certification and creating reference materials for the FOA Guide and curriculum materials for our FOA-approved schools, we have developed an in-depth understanding of the technology and applications of FTTH. FOA has helped hundreds of organizations to design, install and operate FTTH networks - and in many cases help them make the decision to move ahead with the project by guiding them through technical, financial and logistical decisions that they needed to make.

Training FTTH Techs
All these plans depend on finding or training adequate numbers of technicians. The FOA, since being approached by Verizon to develop training for FiOS techs in 2006, has been working with operating companies, municipalities, installers and our approved schools to develop requirements for FTTx training and certification, with the goal of providing enough qualified FTTx installation technicians to make these plans possible.
FOA CFOS/H Certified FTTH Technician certification programs are now being taught in many FOA-approved schools. Students seeking certification must complete the FOA CFOT program first to obtain their first level certification, then attend a course on FTTx that will prepare them for the CFOS/H exam. Some techs attend courses for the FOA CFOS/D fiber optic network design certificaiton first, since they are tasked with designing the networks.

Those interested in learning about FTTx but are not seeking certification will find the courses good information on the current technology.They can also take self-study courses on Fiber U, FOA's free online learning website.

Technical Information on FTTX  from the FOA Online Reference Guide:

FTTH Introduction 
FTTH Architectures
FTTH PON Standards and Protocols 
FTTH Network Design  
FTTH in MDUs (Multiple Dwelling Units) 
FTTH Installation 
FTTH Customer Premises Installation 
Testing FTTH Networks  
FTTH Case Studies: Do-It-Yourself FTTH  

Migration from GPON to 10GPON  

FOA books covering FTTH:

FOA FTTH Handbook

The Fiber Optic Association Fiber To The Home Handbook
For Planners, Managers, Designers, Installers And Operators Of FTTH - Fiber To The Home - Networks

FOA OSP Textbook
FOA Reference Guide to Outside Plant Fiber Optics, Appendix B

FOA Training & Certification

Fiber U FTTx Online Self-Study Course (free) 
FOA Certification Overview
FOA FTTx Certification Requirements
FOA-Approved Training Programs

FOA Online Guide Table of Contents  




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