Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has developed a fiber deployment method and device that could allow it to rapidly connect homes to its 1 Gigabit network in Kansas and Missouri without having to dig trenches in the yards of subscribers, according to a patent application obtained by FierceCable.
Rather than bury fiber optic cables in yards or gardens, which Google notes in the patent application "requires significant effort and time," Google has developed a narrow edging strip similar to decorative wall molding that would conceal fiber run from demarcation points in streets to subscriber homes.
"The edging device may have decorative color or pattern on the outside surface for aesthetic purposes," Google says in the patent application, adding that "different styles of coatings may be separately available to the customers." A diagram Google includes in the application shows an edging device that is concealed at the edge of a subscriber's driveway, running from the street to an optical network terminal (ONT) attached to the side of a home.
Google began construction of its fiber network in Kansas City earlier this month, noting in a Feb. 6 blog post that it would focus initially on building a "solid fiber backbone" consisting of thousands of miles of cable. The patent application shows how it may be able to prepare homes for its ultrafast broadband service before it extends the fiber backbone to all neighborhoods in Kansas City.
"Tubing suitable for installation of air blown fiber may be installed in an edging device without embedding fiber cables in the tubing," Google states in the patent application. "Later, when the FTTx (fiber-to-the-home, or fiber-to-the-premise network) is available in the area, the fiber cables may be air blown or otherwise inserted into and guided through the tubing or the duct inside the edging device."
A diagram of Google's fiber edging strip from its patent application.
Google will challenge incumbents Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and AT&T (NYSE: T) with its 1 Gbps network, which may also include a subscription TV offering. Cable overbuilders such as Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T occasionally receive criticism for scarring the lawns of subscribers in order to offer new high-speed Internet and pay TV services. In addition to helping it quickly connect homes to its fiber network, Google's approach could help it reduce damage caused by burying cables underground. It could also allow Google to easily remove fiber cables from customer homes after it completes the pilot project in Kansas City.
"Aspects of the invention provide a low-impact, convenient, time-efficient and cost-saving optical fiber deployment technology," Google states in the patent application, which is titled "cable edging systems and methods."
The edging strips would be 5 to 7 centimeters wide, and 1 to 5 millimeters thick, depending upon the number of cables they contain, Google says in the patent. The edging strips could be pressed into the ground, placed into a slot that would be cut into the ground, or run along cracks in a driveway.
"Various locations may be selected to install the fiber-optic cable from a demarcation point to the ONT. One of the locations to install the edging device may be along the boundary line of the driveway and the lawn. Existing cracked slots in the customer's property, for example, a slot along the driveway, may be utilized to deploy the edging device," Google writes in the patent application, which was published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on Dec. 29.
Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres declined to comment on questions regarding the edging device and how it relates to the fiber rollout in Kansas City.
- See the patent application
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