Corning trots out new plug-and-play, AR tools to speed fiber rollouts

Corning launched its fourth generation of Evolv products, unveiling new terminal and connector solutions for its PushLok plug-and-play lineup as well as a new AR imaging tool designed to help operators show building owners what fiber installations will look like. Kara Mullaley, market development manager at Corning, told Fierce the additions to its portfolio are collectively designed to help speed fiber deployments by reducing the need for splicing and skilled labor and smoothing the permitting process where approval is required from building owners.

Leading the new lineup is Corning’s Evolv One-Fiber Pushlok Connection Kit. Mullaley explained the kit essentially comprises a hardened single fiber bulkhead which will allow Pushlok cables to connect to one another for the first time to enable line extensions and tethering to its FlexNAP products. She noted the ability to connect two cables with male ends means operators can complete line extensions using their existing inventory rather than duplicating their inventory to include different gendered parts.

Mullaley added the connector can help drastically reduce the need for splicing deep in the last mile of the network and reduce the likelihood of cable installation errors. By simplifying deployments in this way, operators can “hire laborers from a wider pool of available talent and not necessarily have to equip them with expensive splice gear and expensive training,” she said.

Launched in 2020, Mullaley said Corning’s Pushlok products have already been used for more than 5 million fiber passings. And the adoption rate continues to grow. “We have customers and clients that they’re asking about it regularly,” she noted. “The buzz has been good.”

While Mullaley declined to name Pushlok customers, new operator Brightspeed previously told Fierce it planned to use the technology for its fiber rollout to 3 million locations over the next five years.

The vendor’s new lineup also includes the Evolv AR Vizualizer tool. This allows technicians to go to prospective installation sites, open an app on their phone and overlay a size-accurate rendering of what a fiber terminal would look like in that location. That image can then be sent to a building owner to help smooth the approval process.

“Getting approvals from the building owners to place new and different and more boxes on the sides of buildings is becoming increasingly more challenging. It’s not like in the right-of-way in the outside plant, you get your permit and you move on,” she said. “Every building owner is a new negotiation.” The ability to show building owners where the terminals will go and what they will look like can help ease that process, she said.

Other new products in the lineup include a 12-port terminal. While Corning previously had a 12-port terminal, that was in a body that was 8 ports wide by 2 ports deep. The new offering, in contrast, offers a single row of 12 ports, which Mullaley said is a useful configuration for deployments on facades, poles and other locations where operators don’t want to use mounting hardware to access the back side of the terminal.

And finally, Corning rolled out a Evolv terminal-port reflectors which can be used in conjunction with other network monitoring solutions to help keep track of network outages.