FBA: Tell us about your organization. What should people know about you?
John George, Director of Solutions and Professional Services at OFS: At OFS we provide optical fiber-based solutions for communications networks ranging from access, metro, regional, long haul and even across oceans. Our specialty fiber division creates unique solutions for medical, defense, and industrial applications. We design, manufacture and supply optical fiber, fiber optic cable, specialty photonics and optical connectivity, for outdoor and indoor networks.
Our Headquarters are in Norcross, GA, and we have manufacturing and R&D locations in the U.S., and around the world providing solutions to leading service providers of all sizes. Over the past 40 years OFS and its predecessors have manufactured more than 500 million kilometers of optical fiber deployed globally. For more see our website at www.ofsoptics.com
Our heritage, which goes back to AT&T and Bell Labs, includes pioneering research and development in fiber optics. This includes our industry firsts adopted in volume such as bend-insensitive fiber, full spectrum fiber, the LC connector, gel free OSP cables and many others. We take that further by leading development of technical standards and working within organizations to promote the benefits of fiber optic technology.
We recognized in 2002 that fiber-to-the-home was the next frontier for fiber, and that year we joined FTTH Council (now Fiber Broadband Association). I have served on its board of directors since 2008 and with many others in OFS have supported the organization on the technology, education, marketing, and conference committees consistently for the past 17 years.
FBA: What are you currently bringing to market?
JG: The OFS FTTx Solution includes optical fiber; optical fiber cable; fusion splicers; fiber management and optical connectivity products. We can configure this solution to support fiber to the home, node, business, and small cell, to suit the unique needs of each customer. We also offer professional services to design and install fiber to the MDU and home.
The key elements of the OFS FTTx Solution include EZ-Bend® ultra-bend-insensitive optical cables, InvisiLight® solutions for nearly invisible MDU and in-home fiber deployments; Slimbox® fiber enclosures; optical splitters, and AllWave®+ ZWP full-spectrum, bend-optimized fiber in a variety of outdoor cables. These include gel-free Fortex® loose tube cable; Microcables; Accutube® Rollable Ribbon cables; and PowerGuide® ADSS fiber cables.
Customer needs for higher fiber density and invisibility continue to drive our product innovations. OFS’ recent product launches include a variety of Rollable Ribbon cables for outdoor, indoor and indoor/outdoor deployment that can double fiber density to more efficiently reach customers and small cells, and InvisiLight Solution enhancements for MDU and SFU applications. We also launched our Fortex 2DT gel free cable to increase fiber density in standard loose tube cable designs.
FBA: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the fiber industry today? What is your advice for overcoming it?
JG: From almost nothing in 2002, the industry has built fiber connectivity available to about 35% of homes in the U.S., 50% of commercial buildings, and fiber to around 300,000 cell sites. The deployment of 5G will require millions of fiber connected small cells to provide widespread, ultrafast millimeter (mm) wave coverage. In the U.S. alone there are approximately 80 million additional homes and approximately 3 million commercial buildings that still need fiber connectivity. Much more fiber deployment lies ahead than what is deployed today. How do we reach all of these end points with fiber?
Common themes we hear are please help us lower installed cost and speed up the installation, with minimal disruption. Help us place more fibers in an existing small space, while making the cable easy to install and terminate. How do we bring fiber into an apartment or home so the resident can’t see it and won’t complain? Give us fiber we can bend without worry. Give us a solution to reach small cells with fiber that does not require digging up streets, that will be accepted by Cities. Provide a solution to support fiber to homes, businesses, and small cells on a single optical fiber infrastructure. Design and build a fiber to the home network on time and under budget. And with all the above, make it reliable and future ready so we don’t have to go back layer to fix or upgrade it. At OFS we continuously seek to understand and address these pain points and provide the right solutions to each customer.
FBA: What excites you about the future of fiber?
JG: The new services that fiber will enable in say the next 20 years will be highly personalized and make our lives easier, safer, healthier, richer and more fun. What’s exciting is the mystery: we always have predictions but don’t really know what those services will be, but we do know that fiber enabled networks have already delivered more than we imagined in the past 20 years, and I expect fiber will over deliver again in the future.
FBA: What’s your favorite show to stream with your fiber connection?
JG: My family got me hooked on Stranger Things, and I will binge watch anything related to muscle cars. Unfortunately, fiber is not yet available to our home, so my streaming video varies from 2K down to 0.2K or just zero, unless I kick the kids off the internet!