04.12.2022 - ICT, Photonics & Smart materials, Technology

Putting transparent fibre-optic cables to the test

Tet has started testing a transparent fibre-optic cable – one of the world’s newest fibre-optic internet technologies. The next steps in the roll-out of the technology to households will become clear after tests to see if it can deliver speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s without any loss.

The new technology, which is currently being tested in a lab setting, is designed for indoor optical internet needs or where multiple wifi routers and an indoor optical cable between them are needed to provide good internet. Unlike current solutions, the transparent fibre optic cabling makes it virtually invisible.

“We keep up to date with industry trends and developments, as well as global market offerings, which has allowed us to be the first to test the transparent fibre-optic internet cable. We expect that this will make installing the internet in every home even smoother and more convenient than before,” says Uldis Tatarčuks, Chairman of the Board of Tet.

The new optical cable – a conductor with casing – is thinner than those used so far. Visually, it is similar in size to a thick fishing line, and one of its key advantages is transparency. The optics, which are made of glass fibre, are inside the cable, wrapped in a protective layer, on top of which is a transparent material which is slightly melted and ‘glued’ to the surface by heating at 190 °C  with a special device. The glass fibre inside the cord is untouched by the heating process, as it can only be affected by much higher temperatures. It is easy to ‘stick’ the cable to smooth surfaces, and it fits well in doorways and corners since it maintains the flexibility of the optical cable.

Testing wireless fibre optics

Some rural and urban areas still exist where it is not economically or structurally feasible to build a fibre network, but which have the potential for fibre-optic wifi to be introduced in the near future. Tet started testing the technology in September, Labs of Latvia wrote.

The technology is already in use in Australia, the USA and elsewhere, but tests are needed before it can be introduced in Latvia. The tests will determine over what distance, at what speed and other parameters Tet will be able to offer the specific type of internet to customers.

The new technological solution does not require the special installation of internet cables and can therefore be deployed in places where fibre-optics are uneconomical. It is expected that so-called wireless optics will soon enable Tet to provide internet speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s within a certain distance from the transmitter – a radius of about 500 to 800 metres. Similar to fibre-optic internet, the network speed will be “reserved” for each customer, so that it will not be distributed among numerous users and will be more stable, resilient and family-friendly than the service that mobile networks, including 5G, can provide.

€21 million to be invested in internet development this year

Tet will invest more than EUR 21 million in the development of Latvia’s core internet network and internet services in 2022, wrote Labs of Latvia. Tatarčuks previously noted that the optical networks are currently being actively expanded around the world, especially regions. Although the situation in Latvia is good, without further planned and well thought-out investments, there is a risk of falling behind.

“That’s why this year we will invest almost half as much as last year in our core network and improving our internet services. At the same time, we need much faster involvement of the state and local governments to compensate for the market failure and bring optics into homes, schools and businesses in regions with lower population density, as is being done in other European countries. The better the internet coverage, the more businesses will develop in the regions, the more people will live in the regions, the overall quality of life will improve and the country will develop more uniformly,” he said.

Author: Anda Asere (labsoflatvia.com). Photo: Shutterstock.

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