Even with additional spectrum and the introduction of long-term evolution (LTE) networks, there are geographical areas in mobile networks where demand is projected to exceed the capacity provided by the macro layer.
To expand their networks to other hard-to-reach locations, wireless providers are turning to the deployment of alternative infrastructures, like remote radio heads (RRH), distributed antenna systems (DAS) and other small-cell alternatives, most of which are fiber-based.
Since physical and transport layers remain the foundation of a network, they require proper testing to:
To bring bandwidth connection to cell towers, operators must now rely on fibers to connect the base station to the backhaul, and the RRH to the base station.
Typically, in a new cell-tower deployment, fibers run from the base station to the RRH–at the top of the antenna. Due to the number of existing cell sites, operators can also choose to upgrade the cell site by replacing old coax cables with fibers from the base station to the RRH. In most cases, they will use contractors specializing in installation and maintenance to complete these jobs.
A distributed antenna system, or DAS, is a network of spatially separated antenna nodes connected to a common source via a transport medium (fiber) that provides wireless service within a geographic area or structure. DAS elevations are generally at or below the clutter level, and node installations are compact.
Similar network design is also seen in other fiber-fed, small-cell infrastructures.
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OTDRs are often used with a launch fiber/cable, and may also use a receive fiber/cable. The launch cable, aka “pulse suppressor” or “dummy fiber,” allows the OTDR to recover after the test pulse is sent into the fiber. This cable provides an invaluable reference on the first connector of the cable under test for determining its loss and reflectance.
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Bandwidth demand is growing faster than ever.. In a context of high pressure on cost and decreasing level of optical expertise in the field, FTTx/PON network testing is a necessity, and this, throughout all stages of the network lifecycle.