If you have Fiber to the Building (FTTB) then your business has a direct fiber optical connection to the Internet backbone, and you are prepared to make use of the digital technologies and applications of today and tomorrow.
In settings that encompass more than one structure, such as an office park or a corporate, school or government campus, FTTB is just the first step as you must create building-to-building fiber connections.
FTTB brings the Internet to your doorstep, either directly into a single point in a building or to a location on a shared property such as a street cabinet.
Choosing Fiber Can Help Future-Proof
Utilizing fiber for your building-to-building connection is important to take full advantage of the higher speeds and greater bandwidth that come with fiber optical networks.
“Fiber supports different wavelengths and speeds, and it also supports different protocols. So, no matter what kind of network is in use–Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) or Modbus for example–fiber can support it,” writes Susan Stanley in Cabling Installation & Maintenance.
The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Fiber Optics Tech Consortium (FOTC) says to prepare for the future of “Smart Buildings” and shift to cloud applications when considering your network infrastructure.
“Beginning with the end in mind is often the key to success. So, when preparing to upgrade or build a new campus backbone, the same mindset should apply,” Elizabeth Goldsmith wrote for TIA FOTC. “The digitization of everything is creating opportunities for businesses to create more value from the network infrastructure. Smart organizations are now placing the network infrastructure front and center in the planning process because it is crucial that the network is set up to scale with the applications needed today and tomorrow without major and expensive add-ons.”
How Building-to-Building Connections Work
The use of transceivers and fiber optic cables can help extend your local area network into another building or create a campus-wide network.
“Using fiber optic cabling is a simple and reasonably-priced method for extending the local area network to another building,” Network Advisor said in its YouTube tutorial on the building-to-building connections.
Here is a simple example of how it can work:
- Building “A” is connected to the fiber backbone.
- Building “B” nearby has no current connection.
- SC multimode transceivers, one on each end, and multimode fiber optic cable can bring the network from Building “A” to Building “B”.’
Some switches already have transceivers built into them, but if Building “A” doesn’t have that then the steps would be:
- Connect the transceiver in Building “A” via Ethernet port to the network switch.
- Connect the transceiver in Building “A”, via multimode fiber optic cable, to the transceiver in Building “B”.
- Connect the transceiver in Building “B” to a new switch via Ethernet port.
Presto! Building “B” now has the same network resources as Building “A”.
Over or Under: Connecting Fiber Between Buildings
The example above made it sound like an easy DIY project, but as Network Advisor says, the elephant in the room is “how do I get the fiber optic cable from Building “A” to Building ”B”?”.
Of course, if this was a campus setting, with an outside central point where the fiber was brought into, then the issue would be how to get the fiber optic cables to both buildings.
The two basic ways to move the fiber optic cable from Building “A” to Building “B” is either over or under:
- Underground Cable: Making the connection underground keeps the cables out of harm’s way. In this method, you would exit the fiber from Building “A” into a trench that is laid with a conduit. The trench would terminate at Building “B” where the fiber would enter the building.
- Aerial Cable: The over method of connecting the building requires installing some sort of reinforcing cable because you do not want to run fiber cable in the air by itself because there will be too much tension. One avenue is to install a messenger wire, typically a steel braided cable, that will take the stress out of the connection. The fiber connection will run in a conduit adjacent to or built into the messenger wire.
In either method, care must be taken in installation and maintenance to prevent the fiber optical cable from being damaged.
Infrastructure Needed for Building-to-Building Connections
While our “Building A” to “Building B” example was neat and tidy, creating a campus network can be complex.
TIA FOTC says it’s important to choose the right cabling, pathways and hardware when setting up the network.
“Whether you are planning a college campus or a Fortune 500 business-park network, don’t let your structured cabling infrastructure be the limiting factor,” Goldsmith wrote.
Cabling and Pathways are Crucial Components
Cabling and pathways are crucial during planning and installation of campus networks. Options include:
- Microducts: These space savers measure between 22/16 (mm) down to 5/3.5 (mm) in outer diameter/inner diameter dimensions. They are typically bound together with an over sheath into a bundle, subdividing an existing duct into smaller ducts for micro cables.
- Micro Cables: Can be installed in the microducts by pulling, jetting, or blowing. They are typically either 250- or 200-micron fibers.
Advantage of combining microducts and micro cables include: Higher fiber densities can be achieved; Lower deployment costs; and Duct capacity can be used in the future more efficiently.
Another option to consider are:
- Composite Cables: Contain optical fiber for carrying data and copper conductors for carrying power. Used in both outdoor and indoor environments where remote power and communication is needed.
“The key is the ability to provide maximum flexibility in terms of distance, bandwidth, and power capabilities that can take fiber and power all the way from the campus backbone into the horizontal to provide power and communications directly to switches and/or devices,” says TIA FOTC.
Composite cables unchain traditional networks from 100-meter distance/power limitations as cable runs can provide power and communications to devices thousands of feet away.
Building-to-Building Hardware Connections
Bringing the fiber from Point A to Point B is great, but you will need hardware to turn those fiber pulses of light into actual communications.
TIA FOTC breaks down those fiber termination and organization points into the following areas:
- Outside Plant Hardware: Make sure to use National Electrical Manufacturers Association or International Protection Marking-rated closures when placing hardware outdoors. Wall mount, pole mount, vault or manhole are all options. Fiber capacity, splice cassette capability, and ability to lock the housing should be considered.
- Small-Form-Factor Hardware: Some tech, such as pole-mounted cameras, may require palm-sized cases that can house a converter or switch.
- Inside Plant Hardware: Consider room for future expansion when locating hardware inside a telecom room or dedicated space. If wall and rack-mount options are not available, consider the ceiling or using a raised floor.
Contact PS Lightwave in the greater Houston area to find out how we can help your business set-up building-to-building fiber connections.