Breaking the High Fiber Myth
Further to Robert Landman`s point of utilizing fiber in his letter of March/April 1997, people making technical plans need to see the big picture, and consequently, work that way in an organization. One can justify copper over fiber for SCADA RTUs only, one can justify copper over fiber for P&C only, and one justify copper over fiber for voice only. But aggregrate the installations and one cannot justify copper over fiber.
When connecting a cogen plant in 1993 in Ontario, it was proven that by using fiber optics and Prism`s (now Nortel Utility Group) Junglemux, we were able to provide a superior level of connectivity at approximately two-thirds the cost of using traditional copper. At that point we considered the “high-price” fiber myth to be dead. And furthermore, as in any project, demands for more circuits arose. If we had used traditional copper with neutralizing transformers, we would have incurred another $130,000 because we ran out of pair space on the existing transformer. Instead, we added modules on both ends of the Junglemux equipment for approximately $2,000 and made the software changes.
The message here is that people cannot think of themselves as SCADA departments, IS departments or P&C departments in a utility. One must think of themselves as a Communications/IS/P&C team. This is the paradigm. And finally, the story about fiber is not about meeting immediate short-term needs, fiber is about installing the fine point of the wedge for alternative services and market growth for the utility. This is the vision.
L. Scott Taylor, P.gif., Sudbury, Ontario, Canada