How to keep FTTx street cabinets safe and operational?

Mathieu Brigot Jul 19, 2021

FTTx street cabinets lead a tough life. They are prone to damage from environmental and human nature. Their mission is to keep broadband services to end-users up and running. How can we keep these enclosures safe and access to its contents secure and monitored?

Protecting broadband services

Outdoor FTTx enclosures’ main job is to ensure broadband delivery by protecting and managing fibre cabling and associated components such as splice trays. These street cabinets are continuously exposed to environmental conditions and human actions – deliberate or accidental. Without a robust, durable, tamper-proof housing, it would be impossible to maintain broadband services. Modern cabinets are preconfigured and optimised for fast, efficient rollouts - but how do you make sure they stay up and running after installation?

Street cabinet access management

One of the main functionalities of a street cabinet is to provide broadband access to various network builders. There can be no question of slowing down the connection of subscribers, who are increasingly asking for reliable and very high speed access.

When network deployments such as FTTH were launched, most of the European operators fitted the cabinets with traditional keys, which the operator, tasked with guaranteeing the integrity of the infrastructures, made available to technicians. This was a way to verify that those intervening on the network were trained technicians. But this solution quickly showed weaknesses. With the acceleration of deployments, this system does not offer the necessary flexibility. When keys get lost, technicians often try to force access into the cabinets to do work.

Very quickly, the access control becomes inoperative. These critical points of the network are left open, repairs are slow to be carried out because they are often unreported, and the equipment deteriorates, weakening the connection of subscribers.

Insight into cabinet status

For operators, knowing whether someone has tried to break in or if a cabinet door hasn’t been closed properly, can save a huge amount of time and effort. Furthermore, having access to an up-to-date maintenance and intervention history helps ensure technicians can act more quickly and decisively when on site. It’s also important to have a continuous insight into the current status of the cabinet: Is there any damage? Moisture or leakage? Elevated temperatures? Is the cabinet properly closed and secured? Despatching an engineer to check whether cabinet is functioning properly or track down a suspected fault can be time-consuming and costly – especially if multiple cabinets need to be visited, as these can be located at considerable distances from each other. What’s more, without upfront information, technicians will need to bring every conceivable measurement device and tool – as well as keys to all cabinets in a certain area – to make sure they’re fully prepared.

INFRABIRD™: an integrated solution

Nexans has developed an innovative solution to these challenges: INFRABIRD™. INFRABIRD™ is an intelligent keyless access and Internet of Things (IoT) supervision system which turns passive cabinets into smart, cloud-connected assets. Street cabinets can be retrofitted in just a few minutes to provide secure, keyless access control using a mobile app. Once installed, customers can monitor the status of cabinets and respond to issues faster and more effectively. The app provides technicians with real-time alerts location-specific data to facilitate and speed up repair interventions.

Thanks to an integrated web platform, users can monitor a cabinet’s status: from shock, temperature and humidity values to the access maintenance history. Users can manage access rights and carry out network tests.

In summary, Nexans INFRABIRD™ offers a smart, keyless access and supervision solution for street cabinets. This enables fast identification of street cabinets and supports successful first-time interventions, while reducing the number of unnecessary interventions at the subscriber end.

About the author

Mathieu Brigot

Mathieu started his career in the automotive industry before becoming a consultant specialised in risk management, in particular linked to the use of chemical products.
In 2015 he joined a telecom company focused on the installation and maintenance of copper and fibre optic networks. As a responsible for the operational performance Mathieu organised the interventions mandated by telecom operators, managed FTTH rollouts in the Île-de-France region, and responded to calls for tender issued by national operators.
Mathieu joined Nexans in 2018 as a Product and Solutions Manager for Indoor product ranges. He helped create the INFRABIRDTM solution designed to offer commercial operators a network security solution for FTTx street cabinets.

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