There are a number of network designs that can be used to provide fiber to the home (FTTH). Multi-System Operators (MSOs) or Internet Service Providers (ISPs) —the companies that deliver television, Internet and phone services to their customers—may want to improve or expand the services available in a particular geographic region. They may also want to physically extend their network and reach a greater number of potential new customers.  

Installing a fiber optic network, since fiber optic cable offers greater throughput, higher speeds and greater geographic reach than traditional copper-based networks, is the ideal solution. When designing fiber optic networks, these companies must take a number of variables into account, one of which is the distance needed to run new fiber optic cables. If the customers are spaced far apart, such as in rural applications, some solutions are preferable to others. This is where optical taps play a significant role in FTTH applications.  

Why Are Optical Taps Important in FTTH Applications?

An optical tap, as the name implies, is a device that taps into a fiber optic strand. Multiple taps can be used on a single fiber optic strand. UCL Swift’s FX PSPL solutions are hardened devices that provide robust, reliable connection of a subscriber to a service provider’s fiber optic network the size of a paperback book. They are generally installed on poles and messenger cables, in pedestals and handholes and on the side of structures. These taps pull a targeted amount of signal from a fiber optic strand and then allow a very specific amount of signal to propagate along the fiber optic strand. 

When done correctly, this process allows multiple users to utilize a single fiber optic strand. Since fiber optic cables can have a single optical fiber or thousands of optical fibers, being able to use fewer optical fibers to reach your customer base reduces installation and operational expenses and can allow for faster installation speeds as well. Taps allow the service provider to require fewer optical fibers in rural applications since multiple users can tap into a single optical fiber strand.  

As you might expect with something called a “tap,” when you add more taps to the circuit, you reduce the amount of signal passing from one to the next. Eventually, as the circuit is populated with more and more taps and signal is siphoned off for the associated users, the signal will become too weak to satisfy the system’s minimum performance requirements. At that time, the fiber optic strand is fully utilized and another strand must be used for additional users. 

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