China Telecom is looking to speed up its fiber access broadband maintenance operations.

February 12, 2014

2 Min Read
China Telecom Puts eOTDR to the Test

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).

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

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