High speed internet, Triple Play (TV, telephone and internet via the same connection), video on demand or DSL links connecting company headquarters with subsidiaries need powerful infrastructures. Legacy cabling has grown over decades and very often can’t compete anymore. It’s only logical to extend the powerful fiber optic cabling of the wide area network and bring it closer to the end-user: fiber to the home (FTTH). FTTH calls for a large product portfolio of optical couplers, optical fibers, fiber optic connectors and even coaxial connectors and application-specific RJ45 connectors for office, home and industrial applications. A general term for the various applications of optical fibers is FTTx.
The expression „fiber to the ...“ is often used in different ways. It is recommended to add information on the network design (using fiber optic outlets, installation switches, etc.).
Optical fibers offer much higher data rates and cable lengths than traditional copper cables, and so more and more buildings are connected to the public network via fibers. This applies to homes (Fiber-To-The-Home, FTTH) as well as to commercial premises (Fiber-To-The-Building, FTTB). The optical fiber installed by the network provider ends at the demarcation point. The entire network is divided into several areas or “layers”. Layer 3 contains the optical fiber cable that runs from the street cabinet into the building. As this cable is the last piece of cable from the provider’s perspective, this network layer is also called “last mile”, regardless of whether the cable is in reality shorter or longer than a mile.
In rare cases, the demarcation point is an optical terminal outlet. Typically, the outlet is located somewhere else in the building. The fiber optic cabling inside of the building that runs from the demarcation point to the optical outlet is called Fiber-In-The-Home (FITH) or Fiber-In-The-Building (FITB) to differentiate it from the cable that enters the building which is called Fiber-To-The-Home or Fiber-To-The-Building. The FITH/FITB cabling is contained in network layer 4.
Devices like personal computers or WiFi access points typically do not have a fiber optic connection but have an RJ45 jack for copper networks. The transition from fiber to copper is done by an electronic device called “optical network terminal” or “ONT”.. The ONT also translates the network protocol of the wide area network into Ethernet of the end-user’s devices and vice versa.
ONTs can have one or more RJ45 ports, depending on the model. Should you want to connect several devices to an ONT with only one RJ45 port, a network switch has to be installed. The switch is connected to the ONT and the devices are connected to the switch. Some ONTs also have a coax port for TV and radio. In most cases the ONT is provided by the provider.
In very small networks the user’s devices are connected to the ONT with RJ45 patch cords. In most cases, however, copper cables run from the area where the ONT is installed or from the server room to the outlets in the rooms or offices, which is also referred to as horizontal cabling. This copper cabling is network layer 5.
If you would like to learn more about FTTH or FITB, please request our whitapaper.