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Get More Leasable Space with Passive Optical Networks…

Real Estate required for PON

– By Scott Isaacks of DIRTT Environmental Solutions

Better, Faster, Cheaper…New Technology for Office Networks…No More Copper!

A Passive Optical Network (PON) is first-cost competitive compared to copper cable deployments in floorplates over 20,000 sf. and high density spaces. So why are we holding on to copper so hard?

Cable networks have long been created using copper wire. They are proven reliable. Over the years there were many improvements for capacity. However, there are downsides to a copper deployment. Large, highly secured, environmentally controlled telecommunication rooms are built on every floor. They must be equipped with fire suppression, surge suppression, several hubs, switches, enclosures and patch panels and thousands of copper cables running on robust cable trays to the rest of the floor. Copper cable providers also require you to upgrade components regularly or you void your warranty.

A Passive Optical Network is a much more efficient and cost effective solution. It leverages single mode fiber, providing a faster network while bringing a drastic reduction in real estate and energy dedicated to the running it. A PON solution uses one-fifth the energy of copper deployments. On top of all that, a PON install can cost less than half that of a copper deployment.

PON in access floor

It isn’t brand new. PON, under one name or another, has been in use since the early 2000s. These days, the U.S. Army insists on PON for all its new buildings. For good reasons. Better security. One single-mode fiber cable is the equivalent of 96 copper cables. It runs up to twelve miles without losing strength or needing boosters. The unlimited bandwidth of PON means never having to update for speed. And for real estate efficiencies, one small, secure telecom room controls your entire network.

But copper is comfortable and networks are the life-blood of all large companies and institutions. Few IT teams will risk trying something unfamiliar. When asked to compare, the senior director of enterprise technology for a global restaurant chain was initially skeptical. All the information from their 800 locations flows through their headquarters in Dallas TX and he is ultimately responsible for it. After a career of using only copper he did some research and decided the benefits of PON outweighed the risks. “We’ve had PON for six months and it’s worked exactly the way we were promised,” he said. “I won’t ever go back to copper.”

With PON Installed

IT specialists cite security of the network as their biggest concern. PON actually brings greater security to a network because it doesn’t radiate signals and it’s encrypted at both ends, so it is virtually impossible to tap. And as any IT person will tell you, we aren’t at the point where copper is eliminated from our spaces. Computers and VoIP phones still require copper signals. For these connections Optical Networks Terminal (ONT) are used. This small piece of equipment is placed at what is called the “edge.” The key is to place them in secure locations, such as the ceiling, an access floor, or the interior of a prefab wall. One ONT is installed for every eight users. Even with these added devices, a PON deployment is often more cost effective than building a large telecom room filled with networking hardware and racks. To say nothing of the energy required to cool the rooms 24/7 and the backup gear required should the power go out.

While all spaces can benefit from PON over copper, it becomes first-cost competitive in spaces over 20,000 sf. and/or high density spaces. After move-in, for any sized floorplate, PON is the clear winner in all categories: cost, performance, security and efficiencies.

IMAGES BELOW: Left shows the telecom room originally planned with a copper deployment. Further below shows the telecom room built after switching to a PON deployment. The PON room is one-tenth the size of the copper telecom room. The client reclaimed two hundred square feet of usable space. With that, they built two much needed offices. This frees up space for other uses throughout the building and minimizes the construction of expensive telecoms requiring higher operating costs to run.

Real Estate required for copper

Real Estate required for PON

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