Are your customers planning a complete fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) installation for a multi-dwelling unit (MDU)? Not long ago, FTTH was considered too expensive. But the climate has changed, and today it would be a mistake to leave fiber out of development plans. The demand for fiber has never been higher, it makes financial sense, and with the structured wiring solutions available today, installation has never been easier.

Bandwidth demand is growing

Bandwidth requirements have grown exponentially in the last 15 years, and, with technologies like streaming ultra high definition (Ultra HD) TV and virtual reality (VR) becoming more common, demand will continue to increase. Ultra HD TV requires about 25 megabits per second (Mbps), and estimates place virtual reality needs at as much as 500 Mbps.

When you consider that many households will have one gamer using VR, another streaming ultra HD TV while others use bandwidth for personal devices, even small homes will require the type of bandwidth that can only be delivered effectively via fiber.

Many people choose where to live based on the availability of broadband. Whether they are knowledge workers who telecommute, seniors who take advantage of wireless medical assistance, or they just need broadband for games and television, their bandwidth needs will  be significant.

A study conducted by the Fiber to the Home Council Americas (now the Fiber Broadband Association) identified what they call the “fiber effect,” in which the availability of fiber in the neighborhood can increase property values by 2.8%. Surveys by the National Multifamily Housing Council have found that renters will pay more for an apartment with fiber broadband.

Fiber is now cost-effective

The big argument against fiber has been the expense, but when you factor bandwidth requirements into the equation, fiber becomes less expensive. A copper cable made of 2400 twisted pairs can move 1000 gigabits per second (Gbps) across a distance of 1 kilometer (km), while a single strand of fiber can move one terabits per second over more than 5000 km. The cost-to-bandwidth ratio definitely favors fiber.

One cable to provide the connectivity for all household communication and entertainment is also more cost-effective than installing separate telephone, television, and internet via coaxial or copper cables. And fiber cable itself costs much less than it did 10 years ago.

These basic financial benefits combined with the increase in property value make a compelling case in favor of installing fiber in all MDUs.

Installing fiber into MDUs

When you install fiber into a MDU, you need the right type. There are two main types, single-mode and multi-mode. Single-mode fiber has low attenuation (light signal decrease), which makes it excellent for traveling long distances. However, due to the small diameter of the core, standard single-mode fiber will lose signal if the cable is bent too much.

The wider diameter of multi-mode fiber means the light signal can bounce around creating multiple pathways, allowing it to be bent further. However, it is not recommended for FTTH installations because it has high attenuation. Instead, you should use bend-optimized or bend-insensitive single-mode fiber. Bend-optimized fiber will best meet the bandwidth needs of a MDU whereas multi-mode fiber is used primarily in data centers and medical facilities.

As the cable delivered to the outside enclosure, the building’s media panel, and to individual units, is bend-optimized single-mode, these enclosures need to protect the fiber’s correct bend radius. The specific layout will be unique for each building. You’ll need to coordinate with the service provider to ensure that cable pathways or conduits are going to work.