PCT Blog

5 Unique Benefits of Coaxial Cable

Author:  Leonard Visser, PCT VP Engineering, 2/01/2019

5 Unique Benefits of Coaxial Cable Infographic

 

Coaxial and fiber cable each have their place, with their own advantages and characteristics. Depending on the application, there may be no “right” or “wrong” answer when choosing their integration into the network. In fact, hybrid fiber / coax systems can combine the benefits of both.

As businesses become increasingly cost conscious, and costs of fiber optic cable and labor remain high, broadband professionals are starting to take a closer look at ways to squeeze more performance from coaxial cable. But before you decide whether coax or fiber is best for your application, there are a few benefits of coaxial cable that you should know about.


1. Coax Supports High Bandwidth Levels

When it comes to bandwidth, there seems to be no end to the increasing appetite of consumers.  DOCSIS®3.1 provides support for up to 10 Gbps downstream and up to 1 Gbps upstream over coaxial cableCableLabs® is conducting research to extend operating frequencies above the current 1 GHz to 1.8 or 3.0 GHz which will open the door to even higher bandwidth.

It is true that fiber theoretically has almost unlimited bandwidth, but tapping this bandwidth is much more difficult and often more expensive compared to coaxial cable implementations.  Previously unknown obstacles, such as optical beat interference (OBI), could plague the rollout of fiber solutions.  Coax is inherently OBI free!


2. Coax is Easy to Install

Let’s face it, coaxial cable is relatively easy to install and fiber can be a real pain.  Coax can be installed using simple hand tools regardless of the cable size.  There is only one conductor to deal with and it is large enough to easily see what you are doing.  Fiber, on the other hand, often requires fusion splicing equipment, precise alignment, bulky splice enclosures, etc.

In the home, coaxial cable can be easily split and extended by the home owner.  Currently, connected devices have RF (radio frequency) input / outputs, not optical, so higher cost media conversion is not needed.  Damaged coaxial cable is easily repaired and weatherproofed without the need of fusion splicing and a splice enclosure.


3. Coax is Easy to Locate

It is often necessary to locate cable buried in the ground or behind walls.  Because coaxial cable is metallic, it is easy to attach a tone generator to the shield and locate the cable.  Fiber, on the other hand, is non-conductive and very difficult to locate.  To avoid expensive digging and accidental damage, some fiber cables have an embedded wire to provide toning capability – but no other purpose.  Coaxial cable does not require this baggage.


4. Coax Can Provide Power

Electronic devices require power to operate and coaxial cables can supply that power because they are metallic.  Fiber cables, on the other hand, are non-conductive and cannot provide electrical power.  Network powered modems for example can keep potentially lifesaving internet phone service working during local power outages or fire.


5. Coax is Rugged

Bad things happen and coaxial cables have superior resistance to cut through, crushing and bending.  Hair thin fibers are easily broken so they must have lots of strength members, gels, yarns, armoring, and sheathing around them to resist becoming broken or micro-bent.

Would the benefits of coax satisfy the requirements of your next project?  Visit pctinternational.com to learn more.

A Billion Loose Connectors Drain Capacity

Loose Connectors DOCSIS 3.1Like faucets leaking if one faucet was leaking in every home the capacity for water would be limited. The same goes for F Connectors in the home and the data capacity we strive to increase to meet the capacity demand.

There are billions of connectors out there. From the multi-tap to the ground block to the splitters and amplifier, through wall plates and to the CPE, at least 25 connectors per home are installed. That’s 2.5 billion for 100 million homes. Research has shown that as much as 70% of all indoor connectors may be loose and ~25% of all outdoor connections are loose. Simple fact seen in every home. Signal containment is important as both noise and ingress such as LTE creates noise that will hinder the transfer of data on platforms such as DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1.

Enter the technology of connections that reduce or limit the noise ingress. A major source of ingress signal degradation is from a situation known as common mode current whereby the loose connections lose continuity to ground. A signal connector in this mode can affect 100’s if not 1,000’s of subscribers from receiving the minimal amount of data capacity.

While connector technology has improved reducing the effects of loose connectors, the simple fact remains that connectors that are loose or become loose still hinder performance. With human craft error and subscriber tampering within the home, a connection that locks or retains retention with electrical continuity to ground eliminates the service call and improves the customer experience for all subscribers. Such a connector exists.