The mobile web today seems all-encompassing. Even the some of the most remote areas of the US have cell coverage. It’s now much more difficult to find an area without service than with it. While this expanding wireless world may seem to have left the wired world behind, that idea couldn’t be further from the truth.
Mobile internet is in the process of adopting its next evolution: 5G. Most predict this next generation of wireless tech will bring about groundbreaking new uses and enable the “Internet of Things”. While this may be true, it can’t do so without the help of good, old fashioned wired connections. Fiber optic wired connections, to be exact. Let’s take a closer look at the construction projects that will lay the foundation for the fourth industrial revolution and the opportunities these create for telecom construction contractors.
Enabling 5G with fiber
The wireless industry is entering its fifth generation, aptly called 5G. This latest generation will be between 10 and 100 times faster than the current 4G LTE tech. Not only will it be faster, but it will also have a larger capacity. Simply put, this means it has the ability to serve more devices in a given area. How many more? While 4G can support 60,000 devices per square kilometer, 5G can support over a million.
Though 5G decimates its predecessors in capacity, it lacks their reach. A single 4G antenna is capable of covering a radius of over a mile and a half. In comparison, the radius of coverage for a 5G antenna is only 375 feet. What this means is that the new network will require more antennas to cover the same area. For the most part, these antennas will be connected to the network via fiber optic cable.
How much fiber is needed?
A lot. It’s estimated that 1.4 million miles of fiber optic cable will need to be laid just to power the nation’s 25 largest cities! Unfortunately, most of the current wireless infrastructure is connected with copper cable. Though limited in its reach and capacity, copper cable has been able to carry data for the previous wireless generations. That has changed.
Copper cable is capable of a maximum transmission of 40 gigabytes per second, with a limited length of 330 feet. Fiber, on the other hand, can reach speeds in the hundreds of terabytes per second, with a length limit of over 24 miles. With the number of connected devices growing exponentially, copper just won’t cut it anymore. Not only will there be more devices, but these newer devices are also more advanced and transfer more data.
Is all fiber optic cable the same?
Not all cable is installed in the same manner, so the cable itself can take different forms to best fit the method of installation. Direct burial fiber is insulated for moisture resistance and to avoid rodent damage. Fiber destined for long conduit runs is also insulated for moisture but is designed with added strength to hold up through the tension of installation. Aerial fiber is built to withstand the forces of the elements on a utility pole. There is fiber designed specifically for undersea installation. Special fiber has even been developed to deter prairie dogs from chewing it.
How is fiber optic cable installed?
Telecom contractors will install the appropriate cable type for the run. Installation techniques will vary depending on the circumstances. Runs that cover vast, undeveloped stretches will likely be buried. This can be direct burial or through long conduit runs. Trenching or boring machines would be used to create these underground runs. Long runs could also be stretched over high-tension lines. This is possible with fiber because it is not affected by high voltage or electrical noise like copper cable is.
In more densely populated areas, aerial fiber is usually used, hanging from utility poles. This allows contractors to avoid digging up existing groundwork like roads and sidewalks. This isn’t the only method of urban fiber installation, though. Microtrenching is emerging as a method to install fiber optic cable underground without causing much damage to existing infrastructure.
Factor your fiber optic construction invoices
If you’re already a telecom contractor, much of this information is old news. You’re probably also aware that telecom companies can take a lot of time to pay their outstanding invoices. That’s where Factor Finders can help. With fiber optic construction factoring, we can buy those unpaid invoices and give you the cash needed to fund the miles of fiber ahead. Give us a call or fill out this form to get started today!