Fibre Installation Network Evaluation Site open for business

THIS month OPT opened the doors ‘or the lid’ to its Fibre Installation Network Evaluation Site (FINES) near Martlesham Heath, Ipswich.

In the UK telecoms and network provider world, most optical fibre cable is installed in underground duct networks using industry-standard blown cable installation techniques. This technique installs a cable into a subduct which in turn is installed in the main duct network. This cable installation uses compressed air and mechanical equipment to pull the cable off the cable drum and into the pressurised subduct with distances of 2km and more achieved.

Optical fibre cable installed in the predominately owned Openreach underground duct network must first satisfy an installation assessment using an industry-standard blown cable technique. This assessment includes a requirement that the cable can be successfully installed into a ‘complex and tortuous’ underground subduct route. Cable successfully tested in this way is then considered suitable for any underground network within the UK.

OPT has replicated this ‘complex and tortuous’ underground fibre optical cable test route to allow potential suppliers of cable, subduct, and installation equipment to gain confidence in their product before formal submission to Openreach. This pre-installed subduct route is 2km or more in length and is tortuous with multiple 90-degree bends (An underground blown fibre route is also available, again a close replica of the one used by Openreach).

Site construction began in June 2021 and was completed in 3 months by OPT engineers.

The site and service provided by OPT have the following benefits:

Proximity to OPT’s operational units and BT Adastral Park at Martlesham Heath
Sufficiently remote from the Openreach test route at Martlesham Heath
Secure entrance for vehicular access
Off-road parking and welfare facilities adjacent to the underground route
Existing secure building for storing equipment and item(s) awaiting test  
The test route comprises several joint boxes interconnected with underground 90mm ducts. The joint boxes are the same as those deployed in the UK footway (JUF6 & JUF10 in BT speak)

The facility is operated by fully trained OPT engineers and OPT offers a typical test installation and will provide a report showing distance and time is travelled noted at 100m intervals. This data enables an installation profile and full data capture is produced which becomes the sole property of the customer’s product or equipment under test. After the assessment, the cable is recovered in a controlled manner back onto a cable drum. If required the cable, subduct or equipment can then be returned to the customer.

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