The Importance of Fiber Monitoring for Rural Broadband Programs

Posted by Kevin Miller on Wed, Mar 25, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

As broadband access expands to more communities and rural areas, the use and deployment of fiber optic networks continues to grow as residents rely heavily on the availability of faster broadband speeds to stay connected and utilize the latest apps and services. As a result, network reliability and availability is more critical than ever making monitoring and support by the service provider all the more important.

Rural Broadband The Pew Charitable Trust recently released a report entitled, “How States Are Expanding Broadband Access” that highlights the tactics being used by state municipalities and others to deliver broadband access to communities that are currently not being served. 

The report highlights some of the more successful practices in nine example states.  As the report illustrates, these promising practices included tactics such as setting well-defined goals and a clear policy direction, planning and capacity building, funding and operations, and program evaluation and evolution.

The report details the stories of families living in more rural areas and the effect that “lightning-fast” broadband connections can have. For example, one family with eight school-aged children were able to take advantage of an online curriculum versus having to drive to the nearest school, 45 minutes away, allowing the older children to participate in the family farm business while not missing out on an education. 

Just as in major cities, service interruptions for populations in these more rural areas can be just as detrimental - missed classes, the inability to order products, or having internet access to keep the business running.  However, typically with less resources available than major cities or enterprise-level service providers, how can a high level of broadband service be maintained?  

The answer is simple - installing and utilizing a Remote Fiber Monitoring System. For any broadband service provider seeking to maximize the up-time of their optical fiber infrastructure, this type of system automatically detects issues that arise and sends a notification in real-time, minimizing service repair times and related operational costs.

Remote Fiber Monitoring System   1RU, 64-port Fiber Monitoring System

Adding immediate value to network maintenance efforts, some new fiber monitoring system approaches provide an “all in one” design that includes the primary technology (OTDR, 1xN optical switch, and software) in a single device, streamlining installation and allowing for easy deployment in the field.  The overall reduction of hardware not only increases device reliability, but also helps to reduce the investment compared to older modular approaches. 

Once installed, a fiber monitoring system’s ability to spot issues in real-time and determine localized faults within meters is critical when maintaining networks in rural communities, allowing technicians to quickly travel to the precise location to begin repairs.  Reducing repair times by as much as 4-6 hours compared to not having a system in place at all results in thousands of dollars in operational savings, a key benefit for any entity delivering broadband along with those relying on the service.

States and local municipalities are taking steps to spur investment in middle and last-mile infrastructure and close gaps in adoption. Reaching these more distant, rural or under-served locations connects more users to the benefits of broadband, which also increases the need for reliable, cost-effective fiber monitoring for delivering consistent reliability.

See a Fiber Monitoring System in Action

If you are interested in learning about fiber monitoring systems or think your network could benefit from having one, M2 Optics provides online/web demonstrations during which you can learn more about the technology, how other similar entities are benefiting, and see a live system in action.

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Topics: fiber monitoring