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Bob Whitman, vice president of market development for carrier networks at Corning Optical Communications discussed, in an interview with Telecom Review, the company’s latest solution, Evolv™ Hardened Connectivity Solutions with Pushlok™ Technology.

As we enter the new year, what are your expectations from the market for cabling and IT infrastructure in 2021? What new technologies do you expect to come to our attention this year?

As we navigated the pandemic in 2020, it became clear that technology was central to maintaining a sense of normalcy and ensuring business continuity. The digital transformation of the IT infrastructure and the demand for a strong network became a key priority within all sectors globally.

Last year, bandwidth demand surged due to the shift to remote working, online learning and e-commerce. As such, there has been an increase in demand for high-speed internet connection due to which telecom operators are upgrading their network infrastructure. Advanced technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things are also driving the providers and data center operators to evolve day by day as these technologies are putting a lot of pressure on the networks and data transmission needs.

These developments over the last year have led to carriers and network operators to look for the most efficient way to increase bandwidth. More and more often, this means installing fiber connections in novel locations or tight spaces not originally designed for network connections. To meet that need, Corning in October introduced Evolv™ Hardened Connectivity Solutions with Pushlok™ Technology, consisting of fiber optic terminals and connectors that are miniaturized to accommodate more fiber connections in smaller spaces.

These optical solutions are a prime example of Corning’s innovation portfolio in action. We are constantly investing in our R&D efforts to keep up this high level of innovation. We’re leveraging our expertise in optical physics and material science to co-innovate with our customers to solve their toughest technology challenges. That’s why we are able to continuously introduce new products and solutions for this quickly changing and advancing market.

As we look ahead, we see significant new 5G and Hyperscale Data Center opportunities emerging for passive optical solutions. Corning has been a market leader within the technology sector for decades, and hence will be able to bring its deep-rooted legacy and expertise to support the growth of these new opportunities.

Tell us more about the new product Corning has now added to its portfolio?

We introduced out latest innovation Evolv™ Hardened Connectivity Solutions with Pushlok™ Technology to help telecommunications network operators meet exploding demand for bandwidth: Miniaturized terminals and connectors that support converged networks and can accommodate more fiber connections in smaller spaces. It allows installers to connect up to three times faster and it has other advantages that in general can minimize the associated cost and time of deployment.

As connectivity requirements continue to grow, network operators must deploy more fiber in space-constrained environments. This need will accelerate with the increase in 5G deployments across the region. Smaller terminals will need to be placed in many novel locations throughout our cities, which leads to several practical challenges in zoning and access. That’s why we’ve developed pre-connectorised solutions that make it faster, easier and less expensive to build these networks. The product is designed to simplify fiber deployment for all types of communications networks.

Why did Corning introduce this new technology? Will the new product play a role in supporting 5G networks?

Corning’s engineers designed the product for the kinds of spaces we’d associate with 5G deployments such as: concealed holes, street furniture, inside lamppost monopoles, or on building facades. The design is notably aesthetic and discrete so that it can be installed with minimal visual impact – particularly important for listed buildings – and this can often speed up approval times.

It includes a field-friendly connector with dual compatibility that is up to four times smaller than existing offerings, with a full array of terminals – 4 ports, 8 ports and 12/16 ports. These will be available stubbed for a centralised split application, and also available as a distributed split. When it comes to the drop cables themselves, we accommodate customer or regional preferences for cable types. Last but not least, the accessories include port cleaners, connector convertors, terminal brackets and terminal covers.

This region has been a leader in the implementation of 5G technology, with countries like the UAE aiming to have all inhabited areas of the country under 5G network coverage by the end of 2025. This brings about the need for technology that will allow operators to shrink their footprint and put optical connectivity in places they couldn’t have before. The Pushlok technology developed by Corning is a key enabler on this front. The miniature size allows it to be installed easily in constrained spaces and it has a very intuitive interface for operators that may not be as familiar working with fibre optics, which eliminates the need for skilled technicians. There’s also a variety of ways to enable cost savings in the placement of these terminals and the connection of the terminal to the device which helps build the business case. I would definitely call the new solution from Corning a game-changer for the future of converged and 5G networks.

2020 was a year which brought technology to the forefront and the pandemic highlighted the importance of fast networks and digitization. What can the industry do to support this increase in demand in the coming year?

2020 was the year which emphasized the importance and growing need for a strong network infrastructure and we can expect increased investment from the regional governments to support this need in the coming year. This is a time for industry players to lead from the front and support the ambitions of the region when it comes to network densification and the roll-out of 5G. We have a responsibility to increase our efforts in R&D to boost innovation, as well as share our global expertise supported by our local knowledge, all of which will enable the technological aspirations of the region to become a reality.

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