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Passive Optical LAN Offers Energy, Sustainability Benefits For Smart Buildings

Whether you are a building owner, facility professional, or IT manager, there is a growing demand more than just a four walls and a ceiling. The latest technologies that bring simplicity, productivity, and automation are in high demand.  This includes sophisticated air quality monitoring, automated thermostat and lighting controls, the latest security applications and next-gen building management operations. All these require a technology infrastructure that can only be found in a “smart building.” 

Smart buildings improve productivity and the well-being of occupants, as well as deliver energy efficiency and sustainability for years to come. The only way a smart building can deliver on these benefits is having the right network backbone (also known as the local area network, or LAN) to accommodate advanced functionalities that will withstand the test of time.

Traditional active copper-based LANs cannot keep up with the security, scalability, and reliability connectivity requirements of smart buildings. This technology requires significant material, energy, power, and cooling needs. However, there is a LAN technology that can deliver both the high performance and the green benefits required by the modern enterprise. It is passive optical LAN.

This fiber-based technology offers a simplified network backbone that delivers virtually unlimited bandwidth, with reduced material, energy, and cooling requirements. Specifically, passive optical LAN positively impacts green sustainability initiatives with the following positive traits:

•    Reduced cabling diameter, weight, and length, resulting in less plastics and PVCs installed.
•    No obsolesce horizon for fiber cabling compared to copper cabling, increasing significantly the network lifespan.
•    Telecom rooms can be reduced or eliminated, lowering building’s HVAC and power load.
•    Convergence of multiple disparate networks over a common infrastructure, saving space and material.
•    A passive optical distribution network can eliminate electronics and maintenance reaching 12 miles where traditional active copper-based LANs could only reach 300 feet.
•    While copper is a precious metal, the glass in fiber optic cabling is derived from silicon, the second most abundant element on Earth.

Passive optical LAN converges all services across a single infrastructure. While the copper cabling bandwidth ceiling is measured in gigabits, fiber cabling bandwidth transmission speed is measured in terabits. This capacity for fiber allows for the seamless delivery of highly scalable and high-speed functionality to support data, voice, video, wireless access, and monitoring services. And when it comes to low power, by its very nature passive optical LAN removes all power requirements from the building aggregation portion of the network and requires less power due to lower equipment needs. This has a ripple effect to other in-building features, including power distribution and switchgear, power conversion, and air conditioning cooling.

John Hoover is Tellabs senior product manager and APOLAN marketing committee chair. Read more about smart buildings.