Fiber Splicing Trailers: Essential for Rural Broadband Expansion

February 28, 2023

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Fiber splicing trailers are an essential tool for expanding broadband access in rural areas. This allows service providers to extend fiber-optic networks to remote locations quickly and efficiently.

Because these trailers are mobile, they can be easily transported to different locations, allowing you to extend broadband access to more rural areas in a timely and more cost-effective manner. This can be particularly important for remote communities that are looking to attract new businesses and residents since reliable broadband access is often seen as a key requirement for economic development.

In this blog, we will explore the important role fiber splicing trailers play in bringing reliable broadband access, challenges faced, how they work, the advantages, what you should look for when selecting a trailer, and what broadband expansion looks like for a remote community. 

What is a Fiber Splicing trailer?

A fiber splicing trailer is a mobile unit equipped with the tools and equipment necessary to splice, or join together, fiber-optic cables. Fiber splicing trailers can be used to extend fiber-optic networks to rural areas where traditional infrastructure may be lacking. They are typically used to connect remote locations to the main fiber-optic network, and are equipped with power, lighting, and climate control for the technician to work in any conditions.

The FiberLite® Pod TradesmanTM, like every Pelsue FiberLite trailer, includes aluminum frame construction, premium craftsmanship, and unmatched longevity thanks to our fiberglass body. With a reputation for being a “workhorse” fiber optic splicing trailer, this versatile trailer, like all of our splicing trailers, was designed to make your work safer, easier, and more comfortable for the long run. Similar to the Tradesman Pod is the FiberLite® Pod GrizzlyTM with off-road tires built for more rugged terrain. 

The benefits of rural broadband expansion include improved quality of life for residents, increased competitiveness among businesses, better emergency response, E-commerce opportunities, and the ability for some residents to work from home. Pelsue is proud to offer a lineup of fiber optic splicing vehicles built to fit your needs.

How Fiber Splicing Trailers Work

Fiber splicing is the process of joining two or more fiber-optic cables together to create a continuous connection. It is typically used to extend fiber-optic networks to new locations, or to repair a damaged cable.

The process of fiber splicing involves four steps:

1. Preparing the fibers: Fibers in the cables are carefully stripped of their protective coating and cleaned to remove any dust or debris to ensure a strong, secure connection. 

2. Aligning the fibers: Fibers are then precisely aligned and held in place using special fixtures to ensure a strong connection. 

3. Fusion splicing: Fibers are then fused together using a specialized machine called a fusion splicer. The machine uses heat to melt the fibers together, creating a permanent bond.

4.Testing the connection: Once the fibers have been spliced together, the connection is tested to ensure that it is strong and reliable.

Fiber splicing trailers equipped with the necessary tools and equipment enable service providers to extend fiber-optic networks to remote locations quickly and efficiently.

Some of the typical equipment and technology you’ll find in a fiber splicing trailer includes:

  • Fusion splicers: The main tool used in the splicing process, this machine uses heat to melt the fibers together, creating a permanent bond. Fusion splicers used in trailers are portable and battery-operated, allowing technicians to work in remote locations. 

  • Fiber cleavers: This tool is used to cleanly and precisely cut the fibers in preparation for splicing. It is used to remove any coating on the fibers and ensure they are ready to be spliced.

  • Fiber holders: These are special fixtures used to hold the fibers in place while they are being spliced. They are designed to align the fibers accurately and prevent movement during the splicing process.

  • Optical power meters: This equipment is used to measure the power of the light signal passing through the fibers. It is used to test the strength of the connection after splicing, to ensure that it is strong and reliable. 

  • Fiber microscope: This equipment is used to inspect the fibers for any defects or damage before and after splicing.

  • Power generator: A power generator provides power to the equipment, lighting, and climate control.

  • Climate control: To ensure the equipment is working in optimal conditions, the trailer is equipped with climate control systems. This can help to protect the equipment from extreme temperatures and humidity.

Advantages of Using Fiber Splicing Trailers

When using fiber splicing trailers to expand broadband access, the following advantages can happen:

Increased efficiency and speed of fiber splicing in remote locations. Fiber splicing trailers allow technicians to perform the splicing process on-site, which can save a lot of time compared to traditional methods. This is particularly important when network outages need to be resolved quickly. The equipment in the trailers is designed to be easy to use and maintain, allowing you to quickly and efficiently splice fibers in the field. This ensures that the process is done correctly and that the connections are reliable.

Cost savings compared to traditional methods of fiber splicing. Using trailers for splicing can be more cost-effective than traditional methods. The use of trailers allows splicing to be done in a timely and cost-effective manner. This means service providers can extend broadband access to more rural areas. If you already have a vehicle, but need a way to get fiber splicing capabilities to difficult-to-reach locations, the Fiber Splicing Truck Insert is another great money-saving option. 

Flexibility and adaptability in different terrain and weather conditions. Because fiber splicing trailers are mobile units, they can be easily transported to different locations as needed. This allows service providers to extend their networks to new areas, repair damaged cables, and make other changes as required. For example, the FiberLite® XL Grizzly has a rugged frame and off-road tires to get to hard to reach places. The FiberLite® Pod Grizzly gives you the same great durability, but with compact flexibility making it easy to store.

Durability and safety are key considerations. Since fiber splicing is done in a controlled environment, it helps to ensure the connections are reliable while a climate control system maintains optimal conditions for the equipment to work correctly. Trailers should be equipped with safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, and alarms to ensure safe operation. The Fiber Splicing Van an alternative to our fiber splicing trailers, meaning you don’t need to tow a trailer and can get to difficult-to-reach places easier. Just like our trailers, you’ll find everything you need for a fiber splicing job.

What Using a Fiber Splicing Trailer Looks Like

Let’s say a rural area desperately needs broadband. A telecommunications company would typically follow several steps.

They will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the target area, pinpointing locations that require new fiber installations and determine the optimal routing for the cables. They will also assess existing infrastructure that can support the new fibers.

Once planning has been completed, they will prepare for deployment—making sure the fiber splicing trailer is equipped with power and contains the necessary equipment. They’ll also ensure the necessary permits have been obtained.

Deployment will then involve positioning the trailer in a location that allows easy access to the existing infrastructure and the new fibers. The trailer will provide on-site fiber splicing and testing services. This will greatly reduce the cost and time required to connect these rural areas to the company's fiber-optic network. In some cases,

At the end of the day, this deployment will allow the company to bring high-speed internet and other advanced telecommunications services to previously unconnected communities. The goal of rural broadband expansion is to provide residents and businesses in these areas with the same level of internet access and connectivity as those in more urban areas.

What to Consider When Selecting a Fiber Splicing Trailer

It's important to consider the specific needs of your project, to make sure the trailer you purchase is capable of meeting those needs. Here are some things to consider when selecting a fiber splicing trailer:

1. Space and mobility: Consider the space requirements of the trailer and whether it can be easily transported to different locations.

2. Equipment and tools: Ensure your trailer is equipped with all the necessary tools and equipment for fiber optic splicing (e.g., fusion splicers, cleavers, and fiber optic test equipment).

3. Power and climate control: Make sure your trailer has a reliable power supply and climate control to ensure equipment can be used safely in any conditions.

4. Size and capacity: Consider the size of the trailer and whether it can accommodate your equipment and tools, as well as any other items that may be needed for future expansion.

5. Cost: Compare prices and features of different trailers to find the most cost-effective option that meets your specific needs.

6. Quality: Research the brand and reputation of the manufacturer and ensure your trailer is built to last and will be reliable over time.

7. Warranty and service: Research the warranty and service options that come with the trailer and ensure that you have access to the support and assistance you may need.

Conclusion 

Well-equipped fiber splicing trailers play a crucial role by providing a convenient and efficient means of connecting remote communities to high-speed internet. 

The expansion of rural broadband is crucial in bridging the digital divide and ensuring equal access to information and economic opportunities for those in rural areas. The use of these mobile units can be particularly important for rural communities looking to attract new businesses and residents, as reliable broadband access is often seen as a key requirement for economic development. 

FAQs

What is a fiber splicing trailer?

A fiber splicing trailer is a mobile unit that is equipped with all the necessary tools and equipment for splicing fiber optic cables. It is used to join two fiber optic cables together to create a continuous connection, allowing for the expansion of high-speed internet in rural and remote areas.

How does a fiber splicing trailer help with rural broadband expansion?

Fiber splicing trailers provide a cost-effective and efficient way to connect remote communities to high-speed internet. They can be easily transported to different locations and are equipped with climate control and power, which allows for splicing to be done on-site in remote locations. This eliminates the need to transport the fiber optic cables to a central location for splicing, saving time and money.

What are the benefits of using a fiber splicing trailer for rural broadband expansion?

The benefits of using a fiber splicing trailer for rural broadband expansion include: the ability to quickly and efficiently expand broadband access to multiple remote communities, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility. The trailers can easily be moved to different locations, making it easy to expand broadband access to multiple communities.

Are fiber splicing trailers only used for rural broadband expansion?

Fiber splicing trailers can be used for other purposes such as maintaining and upgrading existing networks, in addition to expanding broadband access in rural areas.

How long does it typically take to set up a fiber splicing trailer?

The time it takes to set up a fiber splicing trailer can vary depending on the specific location and infrastructure in place. However, it is typically a relatively quick process and can be done within a day or two. 

Additional Resources: 

https://www.allconnect.com/blog/broadband-infrastructure-bill 

https://www.agupdate.com/agriview/news/business/rural-broadband-efforts-accelerate/article_ee0166ce-03e4-5484-8876-a52e4a1aacb8.html 

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2021/08/18/the-benefits-and-costs-of-broadband-expansion/ 

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