KPN to trial fiber-optic cable made from 90% recycled plastic

Aug. 24, 2020
Only 10% new plastic is required to manufacture the sleeve that houses the fiber-optic cable in the trial, says the Dutch mobile and telecommunications provider.

KPN, a Dutch landline and mobile telecommunications company, announced that this September it will be starting a pilot project employing fiber-optic cable made from 90% recycled plastic. Only 10% new plastic is required to manufacture the sleeve that houses the fiber-optic cable in the trial. KPN says it is the first telecom company in Europe to experiment with this technology.

According to the service provider, with the newly developed fiber-optic cable: 

Laying the cable is more sustainable because of the innovative 4.5 mm cable in a 10 mm sleeve instead of the conventional 6 mm cable in a 14 mm sleeve. This reduces the volume of plastic used by around 50%. The cable and sleeve are thinner too, so a reel can accommodate more, thereby reducing the number of wooden reels required by 70%. This means that roughly six fewer trucks are needed to deliver the materials for the selected 11,000 connections. The total saving for each connection equates to 760 plastic carrier bags. 

Per a KPN statement, the innovation in fiber-optic cabling has been developed and is being tested in collaboration with KPN partners Allinq, Van Gelder Telecom, Prysmian Group and VolkerWessels Telecom. The pilots are to take place in Buitenpost (Friesland) and Nijmegen Dukenburg in the Netherlands. If the results are positive, the innovation will be released for more KPN fiber-optic cable projects. 

“KPN has been championing sustainability for many years and we and our partners are studying how we can lay fiber-optic cables more quickly, more sustainably and with less disruption,” commented Joost Steltenpool, who is responsible for the KPN fiber-optic network. “Our aim is not only to provide top-speed internet to as many people as possible but also to do so as sustainably as possible. That’s what our customers want as well. This new development is yet another contribution towards it.” 

KPN’s target is to equip more than 40% of Dutch households with fiber optics by the end of 2021. Currently, around 2.6 million of the country's households (32%) are connected to the KPN fiber-optic network. KPN says it is implementing the goal through the large-scale installation of fiber-optic networks and, where possible, cooperating with parties who also want to participate in that installation. 

“Using smaller, more flexible cables and sleeves puts less of a strain on the generally full cable routes,” says Erik van den Oever, who is in charge of the commercial development of the concept at Prysmian Group. “They are also easier to install and spare sleeves can be reused.” 

Learn more about the pilot project at KPN. 

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