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Corning Gets the Bends

Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) has announced that it has a new optical fiber that's capable of bending around corners without losing any signal strength. (See Corning Touts Advanced Fiber.)

Corning's a bit vague when talking about the specifics of how it accomplishes this feat. The layman's verison is that the new technology is based on a nanostructure optical fiber design. The new fiber has the same chemical elements as regular fiber, but the atoms are arranged in such a way that the fiber now has a greater ability to trap light. So that bit of magic means it won't lose signals when it's snaked around corners or wound up in circles.

The technology was developed with the input of some of Corning's customers, most notably Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). "This will help us get fiber even deeper into apartment buildings," says Bill Belben, director of network solutions at Verizon.

The fiber-to-the-home deployments that Verizon is currently doing in MDUs often aren't truly fiber all the way to the customers' homes. That's because in many buildings, the fiber actually terminates in the basement or hallways, with coaxial cable or VDSL making up the last few feet to the actual apartment unit. (See Fiber-to-the-MDU: Verizon's Manhattan Project.) In the past, Verizon has been inhibited from running fiber through the buildings because of the difficulty of doing so without bending it and therefore compromising the signal.

A more flexible fiber, Belben says, changes the way installations are done within the confines of standing constructions. "There are a number of labor reductions and productivity improvements that can save us some money," says Belben. For example, he says, the fiber could limit the number of microducts that are typically installed in buildings when running cables throughout.

Verizon expects to start deploying this new fiber some time next year. Corning will come forth with more details about its breakthrough at the Fiber-to-the-Home Conference in Orlando, Fla., this October. After that, Verizon will conduct extensive field testing of the equipment before it starts deploying it in actual buildings.

It should be noted, though, that Corning's not the first to bend fiber. Though the application was different, NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT) talked up bendable fiber several years ago and now has fiber-to-the-home kits that folks can self-install. The fiber length included in the kits can be wound around corners and is far more durable than typical optical fiber. (See NTT Pushes Do-It-Yourself FTTH.} — Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:05:04 PM
re: Corning Gets the Bends Can't Plastic Optical Fiber handle bends, too? Infineon uses POF mainly in cars, but they've mentioned that some carriers in Europe like the idea of POF for broadband use in apartments.

I'd imagine the Corning fiber is higher-end, but POF would be cheaper.
vmg00 12/5/2012 | 3:05:03 PM
re: Corning Gets the Bends I'd imagine the Corning fiber is higher-end, but POF would be cheaper.

Even they are talking about distance of 50m in POF. I think need some more changes in transreceiver and fiber to go further. In apartments they can keep a box which have POF output but will that be cheaper or go further than existing braodband technologies.
somedumbPM 12/5/2012 | 3:05:01 PM
re: Corning Gets the Bends We actually have some 200m plastic where I work. -don;t ask why.... Finding an experiences splicer is a job in itself.
vmg00 12/5/2012 | 3:05:01 PM
re: Corning Gets the Bends Finding an experiences splicer is a job in itself.
Just curious why u want to splice them in office environment u use connecterized fiber . A new connecterized fiber is cheaper and convenient than splicing a fiber.
marc_goofy 12/5/2012 | 3:04:58 PM
re: Corning Gets the Bends Craig : those are two different technologies. IMHO, POF used for embedded networks (automotive, etc) are the step-index ones, whilst the POF aimed at telecoms/datacoms are - unfortunately, see my first post here - graded-index fibers, means pretty sensible to bending because of their relatively small core (compared to the traditional step-index).

It is a given that POF is the only future-proofed solution for broadband home networking. However, as long as manufacturers will stick to that stupid idea of graded-index fibers, POF won't be competitive against... Indoor Powerline. Which is a total wireless, plug & play technology.
marc_goofy 12/5/2012 | 3:04:58 PM
re: Corning Gets the Bends Basically speaking, the original Step-Index POF were supposed to be the best solution for Home Networking, SoHos and SMBs networks (i.e. 100Mbps max. needs) : cheap, no skill required, no special tooling, no particular precaution for installation, no testing but a simple VFL stuff.
The big mistake was made in the late 90's, when the Japanese started the Graded-Index, 1Gig-ready POF blah blah : it killed the whole value proposition of the Plastic Optical Fiber in home/local area networks. What's the point, with a technology that is more expensive, less-proven, than existing Silica-based GI 50/125 and 62.5/125 fibers ?

POF tenants (I'm one of them, since ever) want the manufacturers to go back to the roots : a simple, cheap, easy to produce/install/test step-index plastic optical fiber, doing just what the majority of Home & SMBs users want. Means, connect our LAN to our 100Mbps FTTH/FTTB access point, full stop.
somedumbPM 12/5/2012 | 3:04:58 PM
re: Corning Gets the Bends vmg00 -

If it were inside, we would have already ripped every piece of it out at the first opportunity.

It is outside and quite lengthy and belongs to a customer that we have to support. Rats like the taste of it evidently.

The customer is trying to obtain the funding for a cable replacement now as the costs of finding the hands with the equipment to splice 200micron plastic, and associated downtime (there is travel involved), makes the business case viable.
Fiber_me_up 12/5/2012 | 3:04:58 PM
re: Corning Gets the Bends I haven't been in touch with plastic for a couple years...but at the bare fiber level it is NOT cheaper. In fact, a commonly heard expression comparing plastic to glass is "1/10 the bandwidth for 10X the price".

Not an expert, but I believe POF also has significant problems with the types of bending (macrobending) that Corning's new technology is supposed to address.
Gnut 12/5/2012 | 3:04:57 PM
re: Corning Gets the Bends http://www.pofconference2007.c...

Turin in September is where all the latest hot POF topics will be discussed.
vmg00 12/5/2012 | 3:04:56 PM
re: Corning Gets the Bends somedumbPM,
maybe one of the reason why Plastic Fibers are not so popular so still companies are looking for feasible alternatives.
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