Light Reading

China Telecom Puts eOTDR to the Test

Ray Le Maistre

China Telecom is on course for a significant fixed-broadband network operations breakthrough following field trials conducted with Huawei.

One of the biggest challenges facing fiber broadband network operators as they roll out their new optical access networks is the maintenance and testing of the physical fiber plant -- it is a costly and time-consuming issue cited as an operational problem by all operators with fiber-to-the-curb/home/building (FTTC/H/B) networks.

With China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA) investing heavily in its fiber broadband access network -- it's aiming to pass 100 million homes by the end of 2014 as part of its "Broadband China, Fibre Cities" strategy -- it has a massive network operations task on its hands. (See China Flexes Its FTTx Muscle.)

In an effort to speed up maintenance time and reduce costs, the operator embarked on a field trial in its Xinjiang branch of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. 's embedded optical time domain reflectometer (eOTDR) technology. OTDR monitors a network by injecting optical pulses into a network and measuring the resulting reflected light, using network assurance software, to determine the quality of transmission along a fiber: Huawei's eOTDR product is embedded in the vendor's PON (passive optical network) modules embedded in its OLT (optical line terminal) systems that sit in an operator's local exchange, whereas regular OTDR systems are standalone and need to be connected to the fiber plant separately.

The trial meant that China Telecom could check on the quality of its fiber access network and identify faults without having to deploy as many field engineers to test the network and locate faults, as the system, according to Huawei and China Telecom, identified "all backbone fiber faults and the majority of branch fiber faults." As a result, the companies claim that China Telecom's operations and maintenance engineer workload was reduced by 40% compared with what it would normally have been.

The results are encouraging for all FTTx operators, as network rollout and maintenance costs are often cited as two of the main reasons why operators in many markets are reluctant to invest more heavily (or at all) in fiber broadband.

The results are also encouraging for Huawei, especially given the aggressive rollout of optical access networks in China, but also for other systems vendors with eOTDR capabilities, such as Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), and optical module suppliers with eOTDR products such as NeoPhotonics Corp. (NYSE: NPTN) and PMC-Sierra Inc. (Nasdaq: PMCS).

For more on this topic, see:

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
2/28/2014 | 12:12:42 PM
China Telecom Puts eOTDR to the Test
@Vishnu, sounds good - it is a good business model as well. 

Vishnu Goel
Vishnu Goel,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/28/2014 | 10:24:08 AM
Embedding T&M functionality on board Telecom will be futuristic!
This is smart way of stripping the hardware function and the T&M resident functionality and consequently reducing the Capex.Hopefully this is the kind of co-creation of solution with the customer buy-in.Such trending augurs well for the T&M industry.Vishnu Goel T&M +919810101238 
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/12/2014 | 4:27:51 PM
China Telecom Puts eOTDR to the Test
A good example of necessity being the force for invention.  It appears that the Chinese are leading the way to optimized maintenance of the systems, which increases the feasbility of the network. 

It sounds as if your description of their solution is a new model of machine-directed monitoring and management?  If so, that is very interesting and an excellent example of advanced use of telecom technology.

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