Located on Florida’s scenic Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers in the north-central part of the state, the City of Dunnellon is viewed as a small-town treasure on Florida’s Nature Coast. But with a population of approximately several thousand residents, the city lacked the higher-capacity communications infrastructure available in other towns and cities. The only resources available to serve the communications needs of Dunnellon’s businesses and residents were antiquated cable and phone systems. Based on experiences of other municipalities, the City of Dunnellon knew better options existed for area residents.

The city set a goal to provide its residents with access to faster, newer and more affordable TV, Internet and phone service. For local businesses, this meant the ability to grow and compete in a knowledge-based economy. However, it faced many challenges as it undertook its first, large-scale Fiber to the Home (FTTH) deployment to bring triple-play services to 2,500 homes and area businesses.

The challenge: The city needed to upgrade its telephone, Internet and TV services from the ground up. As part of the project, it wanted to provide its residents with the first IPTV system in the state of Florida. This leading-edge advanced technology, which provides scalable content and bandwidth as future demand dictates, meant that the team would be learning on the job throughout the deployment. And with the population spread out over a wide land area, a more challenging rural fiber deployment would be required. Key to the success of this FTTH deployment was the ability to obtain affordable high-quality fiber management products that would be easy to install and scalable as the deployment and bandwidth demands grew.

Pre-Deployment Decisions

Eddie Esch, the City of Dunnellon’s director/Public Services and Utilities, set out to find a fiber-management provider that would enable the team to roll out the deployment with both immediate and long-term success. After carefully considering a wide variety of alternatives, Esch determined FieldSmart Fiber Scalability Center (FSC) PON cabinets from Clearfield offered a superior product to others available in the market. 

Clearfield’s FieldSmart FSC PON Cabinets can manage as many as 1,152 distribution fibers for an outside-plant FTTx application, providing as many as 288 fibers in a compact 16 in. × 16-in. × 32-in. footprint. Configurations also are available for 432-, 576- and a complete 1152-port design. Through the incremental design, user capacity can be scaled from as few as 12 ports to the maximum configuration of the cabinet, allowing the City of Dunnellon to align the investment in capital equipment to the turn-up of revenue-generating circuits. In addition, labor and other field costs were minimized because of its layout.

“We are very pleased with the quality of the Clearfield cabinet. It is sturdy, well-built and is a very clean unit overall,” comments Esch. “Thanks to Clearfield’s expertise in fiber-optic management and connectivity platforms, we were able to obtain very high-quality splitter cabinets that are cost-effective to deploy, maintain and operate.”

In contrast to the shared broadcast technology of fiber-fed, copper-based distribution facilities, FTTH architecture presents unique challenges due to the sheer volume of dedicated fibers in the distribution plant.  “Proper fiber management is paramount in maintaining the long term reliability and health of a network,” Esch continues. “Density is an inherent condition with FTTH that can challenge those basic fiber-management rules, and shortcuts are easy to take. Without sacrificing any rules, Clearfield’s FSC platform scales to the density requirement of networks today and into future with a modular platform, highlighted by the Clearview cassette, promoting configuration flexibility and ease of use.”

As is Clearfield’s standard business practice with all of its customers, the company took into account the unique needs of the City of Dunnellon and responded with a custom configuration to meet its specific deployment requirements.  The company worked closely with the Dunnellon team to help ensure the system met both the project’s technical and budgetary requirements. For example, initially, the city’s splitter cabinets sat on top of a vault. Clearfield recommended using a concrete pad instead, a move that helped the project stay on budget.

The Results

Building a new communications infrastructure from the ground up is, by its very nature, a difficult, complex and lengthy process. Today, Dunnellon’s deployment has more than 100 miles of fiber installed, with several dozen customers connected and using the city’s Internet service; phone, and IPTV video services will  follow soon. The potential to improve the local economy through Dunnellon’s high-speed fiber network also is evident. Several neighboring counties, the local Marion County school district and numerous businesses are in the process of finalizing contracts to secure high-speed connectivity through the city’s network and to leverage such benefits as disaster recovery and failover. The city also believes area healthcare providers will benefit from the ability to connect directly to nearby facilities.

According to Esch, “As we progress in this project, we have uncovered so many exciting and promising new opportunities that it’s like watching the bubbles in a glass of 7-Up percolate to the top!”

Clearfield Inc. designs and manufactures the FieldSmart Fiber Management Platform, which includes its latest-generation Fiber Crossover Distribution System (FxDS), Fiber Scalability Center (FSC) and Fiber Delivery Point (FDP). Click here for more information.

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