a. The 4K revolution is here and it changes everything. It brings big challenges, but also great opportunities for those who are prepared to embrace the change. One of the biggest challenges and biggest opportunities is the transition from copper interconnects to optical interconnects. Not everyone is ready to make the transition, but those who are will deliver better solutions to their customers and have a competitive edge vs. those who are stuck in the past.
Overview of fiber
a. Fiber optic cable is glass encased in plastic which uses light to transmit data instead of electrical pulses over copper. Early version of fiber optic cable were fragile and difficult to install. Modern fiber is lightweight, flexible, and as easy and safe to install as category cable.
b. There are two primary type of fiber optic cable;
i. Single mode cable, used largely for long distance applications.
ii. Multimode cable, used primarily for shorter distances.
c. Fiber replaced copper interconnects in telecom and datacom as data rates reached 10Gbps and beyond (early 2000s). At 10 Gbps, copper cables could no longer move data within a data center without generating unacceptable error rates. In addition, copper is susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI) , caused by a wide variety of power and electrical devices. Today optical solutions for telecom and datacom are running at data rates of 400 Gbps.
d. The deployment model for telecom and datacom is primarily pre-installed fiber connected by transceiver modules (transmit/receive) which convert electrical signals to light and back again. Industry standards have been developed to govern the speeds, protocol, and packaging of transceiver devices.
i. Transceiver designed for use with single mode fiber are approximately 3-4 times the cost of transceivers designed to use multimode fiber.
e. In addition to transceivers, Datacom and telecom also deploy active optical cables (AOCs) for shorter distance links, typically less than 5 meters. Active optical cables embed the electronics to convert from electrical to optical (E to O) and optical to electrical (O to E) into the ends of a fiber optic cable. There is also some copper cabling still used in data centers, but it is only for extremely short connections.
f. Video over fiber deployments will have AOCs (typically for in room applications) as well as transmit/receive modules (also called adapters) which use standard multimode fiber. Much like telecom and datacom, adapters (Tx/Rx) are a better deployment option for longer distances and when deploying across a building where it can be difficult to pull active cable ends through the walls.
a. Contrary to early revisions of fiber termination which involved time costly polishing, permanent adhesive, and magnification, and could end up taking about 10 minutes per termination. With newer fiber termination technologies, installers can terminate fiber in under 1 minute per side, comparable (if not faster) than Category cable termination.
• Do we need to spell it out, or do we go with the “picture is worth a thousand words” approach and utilize cleerline’s literature?
b. Cleerline has made huge leaps in fiber manufacturing to create a product that is stronger, safer, and faster to terminate than traditional fiber solutions.
i. Stronger: It’s important that your fiber has the ability to withstand the stresses of installation and usage, right? Cleerline fiber is manufactured to have a Dynamic Fatigue parameter Nd of 30, which is 67% higher than traditional fiber and 50% higher than “durable” fiber on the market, meaning it has drastically better resistance to fracturing, bending, and tensile stresses than the competition.
ii. Safer: Cleerline fiber is more bendable and the proprietary polymer coating makes our fiber incredibly safe to handle. To this date, the fiber has not punctured soft tissues enabling technicians handling SSF™ to do so without fear.
iii. Faster: As said above, Cleerline fiber terminations have the advantage of quick to learn AND to execute; installers can be trained over the phone in as little as ten minutes. No twisted pairs sensitive to crosstalk; no permanent connectors; just a single line with a reusable termination.
AV systems with embedded optical sub-systems or optical transceivers
Active optical cables
a. In room applications
i. Cabling should be invisible: light, flexible, easy to manage
ii. Many vendors in market today – show list with segmentation
iii. Bulky, inflexible, making them difficult to hide
iv. Can’t be cut, so measure well or you end up with a lot of extra cable
v. Challenges of pulling cable through walls and conduit without damaging connectors
b. Pulling through walls
i. Aforementioned Dynamic Fatigue parameter demonstrates that Cleerline fiber has 10,000 times the bend durability and up to 200 times the pull force durability, which allows installers to treat the product like standard Category cable with no fear of failure. Can be pulled with pulling tape, fishers, or pneumatics – any way an installer would route traditional cabling!
ii. Some vendors offer solutions with detachable leads, but they’re very expensive and can make it difficult for you to be price competitive without sacrificing your margins
c. Fiber is the only medium that will support 18 – 48Gbps over meaningful distance, and every residential integrator should be including fiber in their pre-wiring. Its cost is reasonable, it’s rugged, safe to work with, easy to terminate. At recent conferences, dealers discussed only doing fiber to ensure future proofing their installations and protecting their clients. With Category cable, engineers need to reinvent the cable through each iteration to reduce the signal noise. Looking at what’s available for the HDMI 2.1 specification, we see the need for a cable solution that can handle 48Gbps, which exceeds even Cat 8’s capabilities of 40Gbps at 30m!
i. Fiber has a significantly smaller footprint than traditional cabling (jacketing usually around .8mm vs Category 5, 6, 7 cabling is about 5mm, 6mm, 8mm respectively), resulting in a less crowded workspace when routing to a central location or pulling through constrained conduit availability.