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TMG’s Equipment for Submarine Fibre Testing | TMG

TMG’s Equipment for Submarine Fibre Testing | TMG
In our latest blog, we look at the unique challenges of testing and maintaining submarine fibre networks.

TMG’s Equipment for Submarine Fibre Testing

Whether under or above ground, cabled or satellite, every type of network comes with its own challenges requiring a different set of test equipment and processes. Submarine networks are no exception. The long distances data is required to travel and the accident-prone underwater environment can make proper testing, maintenance, and repair of underwater networks especially difficult. With almost every aspect of our present-day lifestyle heavily reliant on a fast, reliable internet connection, making sure that these networks are in optimal condition is crucial to the continued functioning of our infrastructure and financial systems. In this blog, we take a look at the unique challenges presented by submarine networks and the equipment and strategies TMG uses to overcome them.

The Importance of Submarine Fibre Networks

While many people probably think of satellites when we talk about data network systems, by far the majority of such systems are made up of underwater networks. According to a 2019 report by StableSeas, underwater cables actually carry around 97% of all the world’s internet and telecommunications data, and at last count (2020), there were over 1.2 million kilometres of active submarine cables around the world. With so much of our global infrastructure relying on these networks

The Challenges of Submarine Networks

The first difficulty engineers have to contend with when dealing with underwater cables is that they are subject to much higher levels of wear and tear than above ground cables typically are. Storms, saltwater infiltration and abrasion, and shifting ocean currents all contribute significantly to degradation of the hardware. Submarine cables are built to last around 25 years, but they are often retired earlier than this. 

Submarine Networks Cable

Aside from the slow-but-steady wear and tear they experience, underwater fibre networks are prone to a variety of unpredictable but relatively common occurrences. One of the biggest threats to these systems is posed by fishing activity, most commonly anchor dragging. Other hazards include natural disasters such as mudslides, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Although relatively rare and not considered a major threat, bites from aquatic animals like sharks and barracudas have been known to occasionally cause damage to underwater cables.

TMG’s Submarine Cable Test Solutions

The first step to increasing the chances of a long lifespan and trouble-free operation of a submarine fibre network is to ensure that no faults or pollutants are present during construction. Even a single, small particle that finds its way into the fibre system can cause significant back reflection and other faults that will diminish network performance. TMG’s specialised underwater OTDR testing units from VIAVI are an invaluable tool for preventing faults during the construction phase. During activation, Optical Spectrum Analysers and Network Analysers are used to certify network performance.

But what if there is no SLTE present?

There are many scenarios where you may need to qualify the wet plant when there is no SLTE (Submarine Line Terminal Equipment) present, for example:

  • Qualifying a pre-staged link prior to loading on a ship
  • A need to monitor the link while it is being laid (can’t build it and hope)
  • A need to lease a dark fibre on an existing cable…how do I know if it works?
  • You want to lease spare fibres on a link you own and want to find out what performance you can guarantee.
  • You need to re-verify a link after a repair has been made (cable loss will dramatically impact OSNR)

There are three technical considerations:

  • The wet plant is highly engineered and designed to operate with very specific channel plans and powers. Amplifier performance (OSNR & Gain Tilt) will not be accurate if all channels are not present.
  • The wet plant has its own management system with monitors and feedback. If the power at the amplifier is not representative, the link will not operate with the same condition as intended and the measurements will not be representative.
  • It is not practical to have a full SLTE system just for certification

The VIAVI MAP-300 is the perfect Solution!

From the original Multiple Application Platform (MAP) System released in 2001 to the new third generation MAP-300 Series, the MAP system is the heart of the VIAVI optical test solutions for labs and manufacturing. With unmatched scalability, users can be assured that our solutions will meet their current and future needs.

The new MAP-300 builds upon the proven strengths of the MAP System while adding innovation where it matters most for our customers. Backwards compatible support for the installed automation base, combined with several new features, including an HTML-based GUI for multi-user environments, gives customers the capabilities they need to achieve their goals.

What can I do with the MAP-300?

  • Utilise the MAP-300 as a dynamic, flexible and cost effective SLTE emulator
  • Use the mFTX Module to shape and amplify a noise source to create any grid plan
  • Versions deployed at all wet plant manufacturers - even on cabling ships
  • Emulate intended operation conditions or range of conditions with simple software interface
  • Ensure wet plant amplifiers are running optimally to verify OSNR/GOSNR and gain tilt
  • Allow live test channel insertion for Q measurement and live system soak tests
  • Create even more advanced loading schemes to emulate mixed signal operations
  • Certify the wet plant as part of commercial terms

Why Choose TMG?

TMG is Australia’s leading provider of network test equipment to the telecommunications industry. Our exclusive partnerships with global tech leaders like VIAVI mean we are able to meet the industry’s needs for a comprehensive range of the most advanced and innovative network testing equipment anywhere on the market.

Contact Us Today

Our team of highly trained and experienced technicians are always ready to discuss the requirements of your project. To speak to one of our team members today, contact us by phone or email and let us help you find solutions to your network testing challenges.

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