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March, 2020 Tech Wa Tch

Probing Infrastructure Readiness for 5G and Beyond

By Clay Harris A

s the era of 5G arrives, the field of telecommunications is about to become even more dazzling,

dramatically impacting every part of our lives.

However, with the rollout cur-

rently underway, many contractors and telecom operators are discover- ing a significant challenge with the existing underground infrastructure, as well as potential obstacles for in- stalling new fiber optic cable — the backbone of 5G and beyond. Gyroscope-based 3D mapping

tools are beginning to play a role in telecom infrastructure, enabling op- erators to digitally track assets, as well as to ensure that installations are not inadvertently compromised.

Navigating the Underground Maze

For telecoms, the challenge is twofold. First, due to a much greater

fiber count, the physical makeup of fiber optic cabling for 5g is consider- ably heavier and has a much larger outer diameter than 4G. In many cases, it is also less

flexible. Second, the duct through which the fiber must run is often in- stalled in highly congested areas competing for space in a tangled web of utility infrastructure. As a result of these obstruc-

tions, contractors are often forced to maneuver the ductwork to avoid ex- isting barriers. Such maneuvers sometimes result in unexpected turns or bends that compromise min- imum “bend radius” specifications mandated by the cable manufactur- er, which can cause breakage and failure of large quantities of fiber during installation. These manipula- tions with the path of cable ductwork can leave assets that are not proper- ly mapped more vulnerable to acci-

dental damage. New construction is not the on-

ly issue. Many plans for installing 5G cable include using empty or “dark” HDPE ducts that were designed to allow for future growth. However, not many telecom experts could fore- see the shortcomings of these prein- stalled ducts. With smaller 4G cables and ear-

lier cable generations, the fibers within were able to withstand tighter bends. Installing 5G cable in many of these same areas carries with it un- known risk. “Looking back on the emergence

of 4G, who could have envisioned five years ago that the increase of fiber count for 5G would double or triple. Now, a range of 1,700 to nearly 7,000 fiber strands in a single cable results in fill ratios in excess of 80 percent,” says Santosh Saride, market analyst, Condux International. Condux is a supplier of equip-

Quality Solutions for Complex EMI/RFI and EMC Filter Requirements

ment used to install fiber optic ca- bles, and has found that utilizing ad- vanced duct-mapping technology is saving telecoms significant time and money during the ramp-up to 5G. “Proper mapping of the duct in

both new and previously installed ductwork promises to expedite the installation of fiber optic cable for 5G and beyond, as well as reduce future downtime due to improperly mapped ducts,” adds Saride.

Inertial Guidance Many, if not most, telecom oper-

ators do not have precise maps of

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their underground assets. Even for those that have invested in geo- graphic information systems (GIS), the quality of their 3D data is often inaccurate or inadequate. Alternative techniques, such as ground-penetrating radar and bea- con-based systems are unreliable or impractical, because these systems are difficult to use and cannot get the exact measurement of a pipe’s cen- terline.

Advanced duct-mapping technology is saving telecoms significant time and money during the ramp-up to 5G.

Gyroscopic-based 3D mapping

systems, however, are solving the underground duct-mapping problem, delivering reliable x/y/z data, as well as the centerline of the duct or pipe. The technology, which has been proven through years of mapping un- derground water infrastructure and pipelines, is now being applied to the telecom market. Condux International is now

providing gyroscopic-based 3D-map- ping technology that allows users to ensure successful installations of pipelines and ducts, including those for fiber optic cable. “The gyro-based tools can pre-

cisely map the duct or pipeline through miles of dense infrastruc- ture, accurately locating irregulari- ties in ductwork and providing data on deviations that can interfere with the transmission of fiber optic signal. These can rob a 5G cable of up to 40 percent or more of its transmission capabilities,” says Saride. Constructed with military-

grade hardware, Condux’ inertial guidance technology uses gyroscopes, accelerometers and magnetometers. The unit has centralizing rings that support a body that contains the mapping instruments. The 3D gyro- tool is articulated, enabling it to piv- ot through various bends, bumps and turns that occur in telecom ducts. It also has an easily accessible

data port for uploading data to a GIS file from a computer. Some gyro- mapping systems are now available in extremely compact sizes, ranging from 1.6 to 3 in. (40 to 75 mm) to larger models with operational ranges for pipelines 3.5 in. (89 mm) or greater in size. Contact: Condux International,

145 Kingswood Drive, Mankato, MN 56002 % 800-533-2077 E-mail: Web: r

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