Copper to optical. Why now is the time to consider Passive Optical LAN

Copper or fibre? It’s the core dilemma, surely for any organisation looking at its enterprise network, and trying to work out the best way of structuring it. Copper cabling has been around for a long time – it’s proven, and cost-effective. Whilst fibre-optic technology is clearly the high-performance new kid on the block, it is also expensive. Many organisations have assumed that a full-blown fibre-optic network is simply overkill for their needs.

However, there’s a middle ground. Passive Optical LAN (POL) is a newer network technology again, consisting of an optical line terminal (OLT), an optical splitter and optical network terminals. In practice, this means that voice, video and data IP services can be transmitted over a single high-capacity, high-security infrastructure – eliminating the need for multiple copper-based systems. And this, in turn, brings with it a raft of benefits – which could mean that now is the time for your organisation to consider it.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits your business could stand to gain from a shift to POL.

  • Cost savings. Yes, POL can save you money – both upfront and over time. Upfront, whilst POL may still be expensive than copper cabling, it is substantially cheaper than installing a full fibre-optic network. Far fewer cable runs are required and such an infrastructure does not require expensive hardware such as remote switches. From an operational expenditure point of view, POLs use far less power and require far less maintenance, making them a highly cost-effective option.
  • Space and resource savings. No bulky comms room. No remote cabinets and switches no maintain. No cable runs. It is easy to see how a POL infrastructure is much sleeker and more streamlined than alternatives, with knock-on savings for both your floor space and your maintenance staff.
  • Robustness and resilience. Among the first adopters of POL technology were the US Department of Defence and the federal government – which should tell you something about the stringent levels of security it is able to support. Because POLs cover a much greater distance than copper LANs before they require switching electronics – 12.5 miles as opposed to a hundred metres or so – there are far fewer endpoints for malicious hackers to attempt to infiltrate. Additionally, POL technology requires much less human touch to configure, monitor and maintain, meaning it is far less susceptible to misconfigurations and human error – the most common causes of cyber incidents.
  • Future-proofing. Copper cabling is long-established – and rapidly becoming restrictive as organisations aim to take advantage of next-generation technologies such as cloud, the IoT, big data analytics and high-quality video services. These require much greater bandwidth from organisational networks – making fibre-optic connectivity the obvious choice. Additionally, POL technology lasts for far longer than copper cabling, with the network lifecycle extended by a decade or more. This means easier cost and upgrade planning, and greater predictability for network managers over the coming years.

There are myriad reasons as to why now might be the time for your organisation to consider Passive Optical LAN. To discuss them in more detail, get in touch with MLR Networks today.

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