Protecting the Integrity of Municipal Fiber Optic Networks

Posted by Kevin Miller on Mon, May 2, 2016 @ 10:05 AM

In order to meet the growing needs of the local community, many municipalities have chosen to make significant investments to both deploy and maintain their own fiber optic networks for communications relating to a number of important areas:

  • Emergency services (Police, Fire, and 9-1-1 departments)
  • Government facilities
  • Educational facilities
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Transit and traffic cameras
  • Utilities
  • Business/Enterprise

Each one of these entities plays an important role in helping a community to thrive in terms of a growth, health, and/or safety perspective.  In general, all data is sensitive to a degree, but with communications for things like emergency services being absolutely critical, protecting that data while maintaining the overall performance is a major challenge faced by each municipality.

While hardware and data come to mind when thinking about maintaining an advanced fiber optic network, it’s just as important to consider the physical infrastructure that is relied upon to connect everything.  More often than not when an issue arises, it is the result of a problem with the optical fiber in the form of a break, degrading splice, etc.  Also, with malicious intrusion events on the rise relating to data theft of critical service and power grid information, the federal government is mandating a higher level of data protection by some municipal entities in the form of either a fiber monitoring system or data encryption.

Traditionally, both data encryption and fiber monitoring systems have been very cost-prohibitive for municipalities, which often have significant budget constraints to deal with.  While encryption is ultimately the best approach against potential data theft, it is very expensive and does not address the physical issues that most commonly occur like fiber breaks, degradations, and so forth.  Likewise, although a fiber monitoring system does not protect the data itself in the manner that encryption will, it does actively monitor and alert the operator in real-time to issues (be it a fault or intrusion), while helping to minimize service downtimes by identifying the location of the event within the cable.

Fiber_Monitoring_System_-_Web.jpg   Fiber Monitoring System Example

Although fiber monitoring systems in the current marketplace still generally require a significant up-front investment, some vendors are beginning to provide solutions that are much more cost-effective and scalable resulting in a better value proposition to the municipalities.  As opposed to having no solution or waiting an extended period of time to accumulate the large budget amount, they can now more easily deploy a solution to aid in their monitoring efforts from an integrity standpoint, while ensuring a higher level of all-around network performance.

There are a number of factors for municipalities to consider when determining the best manner for protecting their local fiber network.  There are many types of encryption solutions if they plan to go that route, as well as several different types of fiber monitoring systems.  Ultimately, the municipality must decide the best fit for meeting their unique network and monitoring needs.

If you are interested in learning more about how fiber monitoring solutions work, or you are considering deploying a fiber monitoring solution for your municipal network, you are welcome to contact the experienced team M2 Optics who are available to support you in any manner.

Topics: fiber monitoring