I’ve spent most of my adult life working in the “wireless” industry. Lately, I’m seeing that a lot of people misunderstand what we mean by wireless. While the result of our work enables wireless devices to work, the term is a little misleading since there are actually many wires involved, especially fiber optic cables more recently.
Aside from the obvious wires like the transmission cables connecting the Radio Base Stations (RBS) to the actual antennas on the tower, there are a lot of fiber optic cables. There are fiber cables coming from the RBSs and connecting through a Network Interface Unit (NIU), as well as fiber optic cables supporting the backhaul. Fiber optic cables are also used for remote monitoring of all the tower equipment. And that’s just for traditional cellular telecommunications towers. Other types of wireless technologies, like Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and Small Cells, also make extensive use of fiber optic cables. DAS Headend rooms are connected to fiber optic networks and contain RBSs. From the headend room, digitized RF signals are sent through additional fiber optic cables hundreds or even thousands of feet to remotes, feeding the distributed antennas throughout the system. Small Cells are like a smaller version of traditional, or “macro”, antenna towers and benefit from the long distances a fiber cable can travel in individual nodes before being turned into an RF signal and sent out on to their antennas.
As all the carriers seek to expand their coverage footprint, increase bandwidth, and prepare for 5G deployments, all the talk is of wireless. However, what most people don’t realize is that because all those technologies are utilizing fiber, actual placement of new fiber in the ground is increasing at a record pace in order to keep up.
Evidence that this is happening is the recently announced deal between Verizon and Corning for the purchase of $1.05 billion worth of fiber optic cable. Most of that cable won’t be used for FiOS style Fiber To The Home (FTTH) builds, but for small cells to support 5G.
Foresite Group has recognized that there is tremendous need for both Wireless and Fiber Network services and has expanded to support both, as the two complement each other quite well. Even as wireless technologies continue to grow in speed and popularity, the underlying fiber optic networks that enable them will continue to be relevant and necessary components of future systems.
About Austin Bailey
Austin Bailey, is a Project Manager for the Telecommunications Division in Austin, TX at Foresite Group. Austin enjoys working with a team to accomplish a common goal. He has a diverse background in the wireless industry from consumer and small business sales, to commercial A&E applications assisting carrier’s develop and improve their networks.