By Justin Hartley · February 13, 2018 10:25 am
Why early development and exposure to fibre optic technology is so important and the future of fibre optics in South Africa.
As our lives get busier and busier, our need for access to instant information increases. Gone are the days when we would sit and wait for a page to download from the internet. We, and especially the younger generations have grown up with technology at their fingertips and become part of their daily lives.
This technology has consumed our homes, with the Smart TV’s, online gaming, Apple TV, Netflix and other online streaming applications. All this requires bandwidth, and the more bandwidth we have the faster we connect to the outside world. The insatiable demand for Hi Res video streaming to our TV’s and gaming platforms, with 4k UHD 3840×2160 TV sets fast becoming the standard definition for TV sets, we are going to need more bandwidth in our home, and fibre optics is the best medium to offer this service.
More devices are added to our homes – not only computers and tablets, but CCTV systems, aircons and fridges – items we use daily in our homes. All of these will be able to connect to the internet in the future. The “Internet of Things” or IoT are term already used for these devices and we can expect to see more of them in our homes in South Africa, as our broadband connectivity to the outside world increases.
In the past few years, there has been a huge surge in the amount of fibre being deployed in South Africa. Before this, most fibre that was being deployed was for our Core and Metro fibre networks, fibre deployed between our major cities, towns and; in and around the cities.
Now that this fibre has been installed, we are able to offer high-speed broadband services to business and homes – something that standard ADSL copper cabling was unable to do. With speeds on ADSL greatly affected by the distance a subscriber is from the switching centre, ADSL copper installations is fast becoming a less preferred option for internet connectivity.
Because of the vast number of possible future subscribers for FTTH, many new ISP (Internet Service Providers) have emerged and have started to deploy their own fibre in and around our suburbs. Roads and pavements are being dug up at a phenomenal rate in order for these ISP’s to get there fibre into the ground, ready to connect our homes. However, due to the vast amount of homes that need to be connected, there is a general shortage of skilled, knowledgeable fibre technicians that are capable of offering quality-installed fibre.
One of the most important aspects of deploying fibre is that it is installed correctly and with minimum losses over the link. A well installed fibre will result in less maintenance and down time to the ISP, something that any ISP would want. A well installed fibre network, depends on how well the network has been designed, installed and the quality of product used on the installation. All these factors can be controlled, however the most important factor, according to Justin Hartley, certified fibre charaterisation engineer and certified fibre to the home professional, is the technician installing the fibre.
“You can have a great design and good products, but if the technician does not work according to the design and installs the product incorrectly, all will result in an underperforming network” he continues.
What makes a good technician? Experience? Yes definitely, it goes without saying says Justin. However, every technician needs to start from somewhere and this is why a quality-training course is essential to ensure that the technician‘s taught correctly right from the start. Most technicians could prepare and splice a cable, but how many of them actually understand what optic fibre is and how light travels down the fibre. So having years of practical experience is great, but understanding the theory behind optic fibre is just as important.
In the Trans African COFI-SA course, we understand that this balance of theory and practical hands-on experience is important, so our course is designed in such a way that the students completing our course have a good understanding of both aspects. The COFI-SA course is designed around quality and not quantity to ensure that students ”splice” above the rest when they go out in to the workforce and deliver the type of work that is expected to build quality fibre networks.