In the cavernous halls of the Georgia World Congress Center at last weeks TelcoTV trade show there was a small stand getting a lot of buzz and corridor talk. Irish photonics company Firecomms was drawing a lot of attention with their working display of polymer optical fiber (commonly known as POF) for home networking.
The fiber is made by Mitsubishi and is already widely deployed in cars and aircraft where its immunity to any electrical noise makes it the cable of choice. The plastic fiber can be bent whichever ways, is very durable and its string like diameter makes it ideal for apartments where it can be neatly tucked under carpet or along the baseboard. Firecomms is marketing POF as the ideal home networking cable and with Motorola has developed a set of adapters which gives POF "garden hose" connectivity. At the demo POF was indeed quick and easy to terminate and its complete flexibility means it can easily be installed and adapted as household uses change. Troubleshooting was easy as POF uses an eye-safe visible red light.
The cable has a data rate of up to a gigabyte, which if the predictions of HDTV everywhere prove true is what will be needed for bandwidth. The POF cable is being made available for domestic use amid growing acknowledgment that one of the greatest challenges/opportunities in the world of high access will be ensuring a stable, standardized, high performance, low maintenance and flexible in home platform.