IEC Sector Board focuses on FTTH, wireless backhaul standards

by Bernhard Deutsch

On September 28, 2006, the International Electrotechnical Committee’s (IEC) Sector Board “Telecommunications” held its annual meeting in Berlin, Germany, to discuss general standards process and current projects in the telecommunications area, and also to provide guidance for new standards activities with market relevance. Besides in-home and structured wiring for LAN applications, the most interesting topics were FTTH and wireless networks. The Sector Board comprises technical and business leaders from vendors and carriers across the globe.

Susan Hoyler of QualComm provided an update from the Wireless Interface Group. It was discussed that there are several gaps in the standardization in this field. Specifically, wireless backhaul systems with fiber optics were noted. The recently founded DAS Forum already pointed out that interoperability standards for distributed antenna systems (DAS) are a key obstacle to more widespread acceptance of this fiber-fed wireless system.

Bernhard Deutsch of Corning submitted an extensive list of system and component standards relevant to FTTH technology and networks. The system standards listed are explicitly developed for the FTTH application, e.g., ITU-T recommendations for BPON and GPON systems or IEEE documents for Ethernet in the First Mile. While the passive component standards listed are relevant to fiber-optic cables and components in general, they can be applied to the FTTH application. This provides the component users with the assurance that they purchase products developed, manufactured, and tested in compliance with accepted industry standards. The list comprises standards for equipment racks and fiber management, optical connectivity and cable assemblies, attenuators, splitters/couplers (wavelength-selective and non-wavelength-selective), splice closures, enclosures, cabinets, pedestals, and building terminals (NIDs), and fiber-optic cables for indoor, outdoor, and drop applications.

However, since FTTH technology is still emerging and some breakthrough technologies have been developed in recent years, Deutsch pointed out that there are some gaps: preconnectorized outside plant components for network access points and drop cable assemblies. It was decided to provide the responsible IEC Technical Committee (TC 86-Fiber Optics) with these gaps and charge the committee with defining a work plan to close them. This should help ensure that the components purchased by installers and users are standardized.

Bernhard Deutsch, PhD, is a member of the IEC Sector Board 4 (Telecommunications) and has been active as chairman and chief delegate in several IEC and other national standards committees. He is director of marketing and market development at Corning Cable Systems in Hickory, NC, and can be reached at

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