Alcatel-Lucent integrates OTDR into PON 'smart transceiver'

New module with OTDR sensor capabilities is inserted into Alcatel-Lucent’s Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) optical line terminals (OLTs).

At the Broadband World Forum 2012 in Amsterdam, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) announced that it has added integrated optical time-domain reflectometry (OTDR) capability to its PON systems. The company says the new, built-in OTDR capability is designed to enable service providers to evaluate new deployments and troubleshoot problems on existing fiber-optic broadband access networks without truck rolls or separate OTDR test sets.

The OTDR feature comes in the form of a “smart transceiver” with OTDR sensor capabilities that is inserted into Alcatel-Lucent’s Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) optical line terminals (OLTs). The transceiver works with Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Network Analyzer to perform the OTDR tests up to the second splitter and report on the test results.

As reported by Cabling Installation & Maintenance's sister website Lightwave, Optical Zonu recently showed off such a transceiver at OFC this past March. However, Stefaan Vanhastel, marketing director for Wireline Fixed Access at Alcatel-Lucent, told Lightwave's Stephen Hardy that Bell Labs developed the technology used in the new product. The company will partner with at least one transceiver manufacturer to produce the modules; Vanhastel reportedly declined to reveal which optical transceiver vendor or vendors will be involved.

See also:Enterprise OTDR incorporates smartphone interface

Needless to say, outages of fiber-optic networks can severely impact both users and the service providers themselves. As such, Alcatel-Lucent asserts that its new, embedded OTDR solution addresses this issue both during the rollout of a new network and once it is in service. During the rollout phase, the capability provides remote validation of the quality of fiber installation work. During operations it continuously monitors all lines, pinpoints the location of network problems and reduces the need for field technicians to make multiple visits to a site.

The OTDR technology is currently in trials with a pair of carriers, one in Asia and the other in the Middle East, Vanhastel revealed. It should be generally available in the first quarter of next year. The functionality will be plug-and-play, which means that fielded OLTs will not need to be upgraded to take advantage of the integrated OTDR capabilities. The latest release of the Motive Network Analyzer will be required, Vanhastel said.

“Technologies such as Alcatel-Lucent’s Embedded OTDR solution are fundamental tools that give service providers a better understanding of what is happening in their fiber access networks,” asserts Erik M. Keith, principal analyst, fixed access infrastructure at Current Analysis, via an Alcatel-Lucent press release. “Knowing where a problem occurs allows service providers to send technicians to the right place, speed up problem resolution, and provide customers with a better service experience. As such, this solution is a key enabler for protecting service providers’ fiber assets and revenues.”

Learn more about Alcatel-Lucent's Embedded OTDR solution.

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