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RFS’ groundbreaking HYBRIFLEX™ cable shines in first North American field trial
Meriden, CT (USA) April 26, 2011 – Radio Frequency Systems (RFS), the global wireless and broadcast infrastructure specialist, today announced that its HYBRIFLEX cabling solution is being trialed in the field for the first time in North America by Agri-Valley Broadband Inc. (AVBI) in Michigan, United States. HYBRIFLEX, the leading hybrid feeder cabling solution for Remote Radio Heads (RRHs), combines optical fiber and DC power for RRHs in a single corrugated cable. HYBRIFLEX was unveiled by RFS in April 2010 and has already undergone successful trials in Latin America, Australia and Europe.
Agri-Valley Broadband is the first operator to deploy LTE 4G wireless broadband in rural North America. The operator installed the HYBRIFLEX cable at a new site as part of its expansion across the state of Michigan. The patent-pending HYBRIFLEX cable design provides the innovation, ease of installation and speed this trailblazing operator needs.
With HYBRIFLEX, operators can connect up to three sectors with a single composite optical fiber and power cable with the grounding function incorporated directly in the cable. Along with decreasing the load on the tower or rooftop, HYBRIFLEX simplifies installation and reduces costs. For example, being able to cable directly to the RRH eliminates the need for expensive junction boxes and limits wind load. In addition, by enabling simple, flexible and cost-effective deployment of RRHs close to antennas, HYBRIFLEX, as part of a total RRH solution, helps operators reduce power consumption at cellular sites.
“Agri-Valley Broadband was very excited to hear about the HYBRIFLEX product,” says Ray Leppien, General Manager at Agri-Valley Broadband. “We feel it is a great fit for our towers with its ability to combine in one cable run the power and fiber connections necessary to install our equipment on each tower. By using HYBRIFLEX, tower installations will be much faster. HYBRIFLEX has proven to be an excellent product and RFS has provided knowledgeable support staff who are second to none.”
“Keeping tower loading to a minimum is crucial,” adds Carol McCarty, Operations Manager at Agri-Valley Broadband. “With both power and fiber enclosed in one compact HYBRIFLEX cable, there’s not a lot of tower loading.” The 1-1/4-inch HYBRIFLEX cable installed for Agri-Valley Broadband combined 3-pair multi-mode factory-terminated optical fibers and 3-pair 6 AWG (13.3 mm2) wires. It was installed 160 ft (49 m) up onto a 400 ft (122 m) high guyed tower that was already heavily loaded with FM radio and wireless operator equipment.
RFS expertise contributes to successful installation
HYBRIFLEX installation is easy, and handling, accessories and grounding are the same as any other cable. However, because bringing optical fibers to the antenna is a new development in North America, both Agri-Valley Broadband and its installer, the Northern Tower Erection Company, wanted to learn more about RFS’ innovative approach.
RFS provided the teams with training on HYBRIFLEX core design, manufacturing, installation and troubleshooting techniques. Use of a Portable Optical Time-Domain Reflectometer (OTDR) for optical fiber testing was reviewed to confirm fiber performance after shipping and prior to installation. “RFS did an outstanding job with training,” says McCarty. “Their experts eased any concerns about working with a cable that included fiber.”
Mark Stevenson of the Northern Tower Erection Company led the tower crew that completed the antenna and cable installation for Agri-Valley Broadband. With harsh winter conditions in northern Michigan, the installers appreciated the opportunity to become familiar with HYBRIFLEX before climbing the tower. “RFS brought in a sample cable so we could become comfortable with handling, testing and splicing HYBRIFLEX in a controlled warehouse environment prior to getting on the tower. This proved to be a tremendous help,” he says.
As with any new technology, first-time installations can bring unforeseen requirements. When an unfamiliar task was required during the HYBRIFLEX installation, RFS was there to guide the installers. “RFS’ dedication and professionalism really contributed to the success of the project,” says Stevenson. “RFS engineering experts guided us through fusion splicing the optical fiber on the tower, not an easy task when we were 160 feet (49 m) up in 15 degree Fahrenheit temperatures.”
RFS also left room for flexibility during installation. The company provided a 3-fingered heat-shrink tube that was factory-installed on the top and bottom of the HYBRIFLEX assembly prior to terminating the optical fiber, but not shrunk. This allowed the installers to make on-site adjustments if necessary before final sealing. For example, additional jacket and armor could be removed to expose longer optical fiber and DC power leads.
A successful partnership
Agri-Valley Broadband considers the HYBRIFLEX field trial a success. Although final purchasing decisions have not been made, the operator hopes to install HYBRIFLEX at other sites as it continues expanding across Michigan. “We currently own 700 MHz and AWS licenses in 42 Michigan counties. We are very excited to expand our services over the next several years,” says Leppien. “Once we have site approval, we’ll start making decisions regarding our fiber and power cable. We would absolutely like to continue working with RFS and trial HYBRIFLEX at other sites,” concludes McCarty.
“We’re ecstatic about this report card for HYBRIFLEX in the field,” says Matt Gauvin, RFS Product Manager for Transmission Line Products in North America. “The feedback and experience our engineers gained from the Agri-Valley Broadband trial was extremely valuable. We’ll continue to enhance HYBRIFLEX to ensure Agri-Valley Broadband and other customers always benefit from the latest advances in cabling technology.”
Trademarks: RFS® is a registered trademark and HYBRIFLEX™ is a trademark of Radio Frequency Systems. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
About Agri-Valley Broadband Inc
Agri-Valley Broadband, Inc. is a subsidiary of Agri-Valley Communications, Inc., a multi-faceted communications company based in Pigeon, Michigan. Agri-Valley Communications, Inc. is the parent company to Agri-Valley Broadband, Inc., an LTE 4G wireless broadband provider, Pigeon Telephone Company, an Independent Telephone Exchange Carrier (ILEC), Thumb Cellular, a cellular telephone and 3G internet service provider to Michigan’s Thumb area and Agri-Valley Services, Inc. (www. AVCI.net), a broadband Internet service provider to Michigan’s Thumb, Twining and Alba/Lakes of the North areas. Agri-Valley has served rural Michigan since the early 1900s, providing urban services to rural communities.
For more information: www.avbi.net
About Northern Tower Erection Company
The Northern Tower Erection Company delivers complete steel erection, maintenance, inspections, antenna installation sweeps and structural analysis services, primarily in the state of Michigan. The company was founded on the core principles of delivering high-quality services safely and follows these principles to this day. The Northern Tower Erection Company has been serving operators and broadcasters since in 1957.
For more information: www.northerntower.net
Radio Frequency Systems (RFS) is a global designer and manufacturer of cable, antenna and tower systems, plus active and passive RF conditioning modules, providing total-package solutions for outdoor and indoor wireless infrastructure.
RFS serves OEMs, distributors, system integrators, operators and installers in the broadcast, wireless communications, land-mobile and microwave market sectors. As an ISO compliant organization with manufacturing and customer service facilities that span the globe, RFS offers cutting-edge engineering capabilities, superior field support and innovative product design. RFS is a leader in wireless infrastructure.
RFS Press Contact
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Phone: + 1 203 630 3311
Cell: + 1 203 715 1595