FTTx stands for Fiber to the X (where X represents a particular name or object, such as ‘home’ or ‘cabinet’). It is a telecommunications network architecture that is used within the local loop (the last section of the providers network that spans between the end-user premises and the edge of the carrier network) and delivers broadband connections to homes, businesses and organisations all around the world.
Many legacy copper-based networks are steadily being replaced with FTTx systems due to the benefits in speed and capacity that comes with fiber optic cabling.
This article looks at the various types of FTTx systems, how they work and how they differ from one and other.
Different types of FTTx architectures
There are two main groups of FTTx architectures, FTTP (Fiber to the Premises) and FTTC (Fiber to the Cabinet). These two groups have multiple sub-groups and architectures.
Fiber to the Premesis (FTTP)
With FTTP, an optical fiber is run in an optical distribution network (ODN) from the central office to the subscriber premises. FTTP can be categorized according to where the fiber ends:
FTTH – Fiber to the Home is when the fiber reaches the living or working space. The fiber runs from the central office all the way to the living or working space. The signal may then be conveyed throughout that space using any means, such as twisted pair, coaxial cable, wireless (Wi-Fi for example) or further optical fiber.
FTTB – Fiber to the Building is where the fiber reaches the subscribers building that may have multiple living or working spaces that are being served by the network provider. The optical fiber terminated before reaching the individual living or working space but is conveyed the final distance by any means.
Although FTTP and FTTB are the main two subsets of the FTTP architectures, there are also more which are fairly self-explanatory, including:
FTTBD – Fiber to the Desktop
FTTR – Fiber to the Router
FTTO – Fiber to the Office
FTTF – Fiber to the Frontage
Fiber to the Cabinet (FTTC)
FTTC (also sometimes known as Fiber to the Curb or Fiber to the Node) is the other main type of fiber optic deployment. An FTTC system runs through an ODN from the providers hub through to a central platform or node. Indivdual customers can then connect to this node using either twisted pair or coaxial cables.
FTTC systems are defined as a platform that terminated its fiber optic cables within 1000ft of the customer premesis. FTTC also has several sub-groups depending on the type of deployment:
FTTN – Fiber to the Neighbourhood is when customers connect to a cabinet in that is generally located within a 1 mile radius of each subscriber. These cabinets can connect several hundreds of subscribers to the network.
FTTdp – Fiber to the Distribution Point is very similar to FTTC/FTTN but is located one-step closer, moving the fiber to within meters of the boundary of customers premesis, to a junction box known as the distribution point. This allows for near gigabit speeds.
FTTx technology will continue to be implemented within telecommunication networks as more operators replace older copper infrastructure with fiber based systems. Subscribers will see the benefit of these infrastructure improvements with enhanced speeds and greater connectivity.