Sprint, 3M find quick fix to fiber damage


LAS VEGAS —Theft and vandalism to cell towers is a growing strain on our mobile networks. At CTIA Super Mobility 2015, 3M and Sprint are debuting a quick, cost-effective fix they created after a vandal caused 300 Sprint customers to lose service in Little Falls, N.J.

The solution the two companies came up with was to use the 3M No Polish Connector, along with the recently introduced 3M Easy Cleaver to fix the damage to the junction box at the base of the tower. The field-terminated connector solution allowed the outage to be fixed without replacing cables. The two companies used the incident to create a case study for the new solution.

“We have a variety of things that impact fiber, could be vandalism, could be theft, could be rodents or birds,” Sprint Program Manager Lee Garris said in an interview with RCR Wireless News. “In many cases that fiber is co-located with power in a hybrid cable. It’s a purpose-built cable that is expensive to replace and we were looking for a means to more cost-effectively manage fiber breaks.”

The companies claim the lightweight solution will eliminate the need to use heavy equipment like cranes to replace whole cables and will allow carriers to restore service in just a few hours. Garris said the damage could have cost around $25,000 without the connector.

“We had damage to a fiber on a tower that was going to be very expensive to get to fix … that really kind of necessitated we use a different approach,” Garris added.

According to 3M, the connector enables fast, field installation of 250 μm, 900 μm, and jacketed singlemode and multimode connections one-piece, pre-assembled design. The connector is LC-compatible and features a built-in, factory-polished ferrule assembly with a mechanical splice.

The connectors come with 3M’s fiber restoration kit, which provides all the tools needed to fix a fiber cable without the need for heavy equipment.

Steve King, 3M’s application engineer for wireless, demoed the connector and the kit. He said all you have to do is “strip, cleave, clean a fiber, push it in, tighten up the barrel and essentially you’re done.”

3M will be demonstrating the connectors and other products at its booth at CTIA in Las Vegas.

About Author

Joey Jackson

Joey Jackson is an editor and production manager at RCRWireless.com and RCRtv based in Austin, Texas. Before coming to RCR, Joey was a multimedia journalist for multiple TV news affiliates around the country. He is in charge of custom video production as well as the production of the "Digs," "Gigs," "How it works" and "Tower Stories" segments for RCRtv. He also writes daily about the latest developments in telecom and ICT news. An Oregon native, Joey graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism and communications. He enjoys telling the stories of the people and companies that are shaping the landscape of the mobile world. Follow him on Twitter at @duck_jackson.