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New ITU standards bring broadband to places as remote as Mount Everest
ITU News – New ITU standards aim to bring high-speed broadband services to rural communities with lightweight, terabit-capable optical cable that can be deployed on the ground’s surface with minimal expense and environmental impact.

The standards are giving developing countries the confidence to consider the roll-out of optical networks in some of the world’s most challenging conditions.

Nepal, for example, has highlighted its intention to use ITU-standardized lightweight optical cable to connect places as remote as Mount Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Trekking Trail.

Why lightweight optical cable?

Satellite communications are characterized by high latency, struggling to support the interactive services associated with broadband. Radiocommunications can provide ‘last-mile’ connectivity. But in the broadband era, optical infrastructure is indispensable – rural communities are often many, many kilometers away from core networks.

The Editor of the new standards, Haruo Okamura of Waseda University, offers a compelling example: “Optical cable is becoming an absolute must for telemedicine. Only optical cable provides capacity high enough and latency low enough for the live transmission of HD medical imagery to remote medical professionals.”

The installation of ultra-high speed optical networks, however, comes with a great deal of cost and complexity.

“Today the costs of optical cable installation are typically 70 to 80 per cent of the entire CAPEX of the network,” says Okamura. “The designs of conventional optical cables are specific to their installation environment – whether duct, directly buried, lashed aerial or submerged – with installation methods relying on specialized machinery and skilled labor.”

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This challenge is made even greater by the low densities of remote rural communities, where fiber roll-outs demand a disproportionate level of initial capital investment relative to the potential return on such investment.

New ITU standards aim to change that equation by providing a low-cost ‘do-it-yourself’ solution able to be deployed in even the world’s most remote areas. more>

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