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11/04/2019  /  Jasmin Schuoler

UPC is treading new ground with the fibre spot pilot project in Spreitenbach - and cablex is their implementation partner.

UPC's pilot project will provide the possibility of laying fibre optic cables right into the home.

Fibre optic cable connections from a central exchange to the apartments, which will provide a very high data transmission capacity, is increasingly being demanded by many building owners. Such as is the case with the LimmatSpot project in Spreitenbach. For UPC, this means exploring new avenues and new types of development to meet the needs of the construction industry. Fibre optic cabling in buildings, i.e. utilisation of the fibre optic connections provided within a building, is new territory for UPC and is only used in larger, new buildings. This project is one of the first of its kind - and cablex was commissioned to implement it.

By spring 2019, the LimmatSpot construction project had been completed in Spreitenbach, a new development with 234 apartments as well as office and commercial space. Thanks to the central location of this development, the Pathé cinema, the Shoppi Tivoli, IKEA as well as various restaurants, bars and much more are within walking distance. From 2022, the Limmat Valley Railway will also provide a direct connection to Zurich. But that's not all: The residents benefit from ultra broadband, which enables the reception of ultra high-definition television (UHD) on several devices at the same time, as well as fast Internet connections. The client determined the way in which the buildings were to be connected, which means access to the individual apartments was realised exclusively with optical fibre. For this contract, several companies were allowed to submit their bids for the realisation of the LimmatSpot Project.

One of these providers was UPC. This requirement, as well as the client's specifications regarding utilisation of optical fibre, meant treading new ground for UPC. Until now, UPC's approach had been to connect new buildings with optical fibre cabling and then to use broadband cable (coaxial cable) as the transmission medium within the buildings (riser zones). For the LimmatSpot project in Spreitenbach, UPC decided to launch one of the first pilot projects with the aim of precisely understanding and implementing the operational challenges related to fibre to the home (FTTH), i.e. fibre optic cabling right into the apartments in new buildings. cablex was brought on board for the structural implementation.

Optical fibre instead of coaxial cable in the riser zones
The fibre optic cable runs from the central exchange right into the residential units. A new conduit system was installed in front of the building, which made it possible to feed in the cables. The fibre optic cable runs through this piping and into the apartments, where it is connected to the UPC rack. In the PC rack, so-called "Multi-Diode-Receivers" were installed. (MDR for short). These special devices make it possible for UPC's communication services to be available within the building via optical fibre. These also make it possible and meaningful to interconnect the other building cabling in a high-performance manner. The route between the MDR and the OTO socket in the multimedia distributors (short: MMD) within the 234 apartments has therefore been implemented using only optical fibre (FTTH). Broadband cables (coaxial cables) were installed for the last few metres between the MMD and the broadband connections in the individual apartment rooms. This installation inside the apartments is also referred to as "universal communication cabling" (short: UCC). This therefore corresponds exactly with the current OFCOM reference model for FTTH installations and proves that infrastructure and technology competition is taking place at all levels and is also justified in the sense of genuine freedom of choice for the end user, the resident.

The cablex team under the project management of Bruno Crainich and Christoph Müller was pressed for time. Since this project was a pilot for both UPC and cablex, the processes were not yet automated and improvisation was needed. The technology used meant that initial training was needed for our employees as well as a regular exchange of information between UPC and cablex. This cost a lot of time and sometimes made it difficult to meet deadlines. UPC and cablex were, however, able to overcome the hurdles, which meant the work was completed on time. We are proud to announce that this pilot project has been successfully completed on schedule and is one of the first UPC fibre spots to go into Operation!

Will optical fibre continue to be used instead of coaxial cable in future at UPC?
Yes and no. According to Martin Rüegg, Senior Build Operations Manager at UPC, further pilot projects with fibre access up to MMD are planned. UPC is currently testing various possibilities in many different projects in order to gain the necessary knowledge for future new construction projects. If end-to-end utilisation of fibre optic cabling is expressly requested when connecting a building, UPC will check this requirement on a case-by-case basis. In principle, UPC will continue to use the tried-and-tested broadband cable (coaxial cable), which today already enables transmission rates of more than 1 Gbit/s across the board without any problems. For this purpose, new properties are very often connected directly to the fibre optic network (FTTB). Even if coaxial cable requires more space in the riser zone than optical fibre, UPC can guarantee the same data transmission capacity with this broadband cable. It is a fallacy that this is only possible with optical fibre, as often reported in the media. It must be made clear that there are corresponding limits for every physical medium and for every technology used on it. These have generally not yet been reached and the transmission technologies (protocols) used have still not yet been fully exploited. UPC can therefore satisfy all current and future needs across the board and satisfy demand for ever higher transmission bandwidths.

Further information on the project LimmatSpot can be found at www.limmatspot.ch.

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"The fibre spot pilot project in Spreitenbach was a very interesting and instructive project. Many things were unclear in the beginning and the UPC processes are not yet automated. This significant challenge was mastered thanks to the commitment of the UPC and cablex employees involved. Many thanks to all who were involved for their great commitment," said Martin Rüegg.

Definition of terms.

Fixed network based Internet speeds of at least 50 Mbit/s
Holding device in which several IT or network Elements are installed and combined to form a system group

Source: Swisscom Group.

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