The concept of senior living is radically different from what was delivered less than a decade ago. As the baby boomers enter their “golden years” they have become far more techno savvy and aided with a high level of disposable income, they are expecting to move into a retirement community that provides them with a truly “digital lifestyle”.

The modern over 55 “lifestyle communities” provide a range of housing options from independent living units to assisted care facilities. The facilities that exist in these communities are second to none and include mini theatres, cafés, heated pools, spas, gyms, bars, lawn bowls, security systems and now even Fibre Optic access to Broadband, Telephone and TV services.

One such community is the Belswan Lifestyle Village which is located in Pinjara, a town approximately 86km south of Perth and just 15kms inland from the rapidly growing seaside city of Mandurah. Back in April 2007, Titan ICT consulting engineers were approached by Peter Farr and Associates - consultant to developer Belswan Lifestyle Estates to design a modern communication facility that would provide residents with access to the Internet, Telephone and TV; little did they know what type of solution they would end up with and at a cost just a little more than half what they had been originally quoted by others to reticulate these services using traditional cat3 and coax cable.

With many years experienced in building Fibre to the Home networks in residential broadacre estates, Titan went about designing a solution that would rival any Smart Community in the world. The network would end up delivering a multitude of services to residents.

Ben Siru, the consultant from Titan ICT Consultants who designed the network, said “we picked fibre because it provides the network with unlimited capacity for future growth and new services as and when they are required. It is also immune to interference thus provides a better quality of service and doesn’t suffer the distance limiting effects of copper. We recommended Belswan purchase a Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical access Network (GePON) from Alloptic as it delivered the full triple play of services over a single optical fibre. Most importantly, the voice is delivered using Time Division Multiplexing rather than VoIP; an important aspect for life line services that offer in home monitoring.”

Using the Hills Home Hub, every home was Smart Wired® with multiple RF, Ethernet and telephony outlets providing residents the flexibility of having multiple TVs and phones, or moving them and the computer around the house. It also provided a safe location to terminate and fibre and optical electronics called the ONU. High speed access to the Internet and telephone services were delivered by Global Dial – a Perth based Service Provider - using a Telstra fibre backhaul. This provided residents the ability to visit any home in the village and login with their own account to get access to their email and browse the web.

Rather than using a pure IP based telephony solution, Titan suggested to the consultant a Hybrid PABX system would provide the stability and simplicity of a traditional circuit switched network (used for the residents) while offering IP based capabilities for the office. At the home the ONU provides residents with a POTS port which is interfaced into a specialized telephone called the BluePhone.

VoIP phones are typically sophisticated and feature rich, but for an inexperienced user they are difficult to use, particularly with the LCD display and small keypad buttons. The BluePhone however is no ordinary phone; it is a state of the art independent living aid that delivers over 100 specialized features designed specifically for the over 55 user community. It has large easy to operate buttons, a talking clock, voice alerts, hearing aid induction loop, speaker phone, and a duress alarm which can be accessed via a special feature button on the phone or a wireless pendant.

This is all integrated into the village’s emergency nurse call system providing residents with access to 24 hour monitored duress alarm system.

Residents also have access to a remotely control gated security system with closed circuit video delivered to the television in their home. When someone approaches the gate they just dial up the resident’s number using the call box at the gate, which is then switched through to the appropriate unit where the resident answers the phone. The resident can then switch channels on the TV to see who is at the gate, and let them in by pressing a specialized button on the BluePhone.

Finally every resident has access to a range of free to air television channels and a local community channel. What is so unique about this television reception – particular for Pinjara - is that it comes via a single antenna in the estate and delivers perfect quality analog and digital television. This makes for a visually appealing environment free from 20 foot antennas which are typically required in this regional area to get a good TV reception. Residents also have access to PayTV operator Foxtel.

Speaking to one of the residents of Belswan, he said “I have never seen TV like this before; it’s just so perfect. We get all the Perth channels and the local GWN and WIN channels. We even get the new ABC2 which is nice. I have more TV channels than I know what to do with.”

One might ask what is so special about all this? Well every service is delivered over a single fibre optic cable to each home. Using technology called Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Networking; a single fibre is used to deliver all these services into 32 homes.

Installation contractor Steve Funge of Fibre Test and Termination said “it was a good solution” and “was easy to install with the right support”. “Titan provided us all the detailed engineering documentation which meant we did not have to think about what we where doing. We just followed the plans.”

Steve used a combination of traditional fibre optic cable with pre-connectorised leadin assemblies to wire up the estate. The technology provided by Corning enabled him to save on time and money in the installation process.

Steve, who has been installing fibre systems for 20 years, said “from his point of view it was very easy. A brilliant solution!” He further added “He would never entertain going down a copper/coax solution again”. It’s “too hard to install” and “doesn’t give the same level of quality and reliability” that the fibre solution offers.

Using the PON architecture and the single fibre to each home meant a big saving in cable and installation costs. Looking at the inside of the pit just outside the communications room, you can see small 12 core cable has been used to reticulate the whole estate which is some 192 independent living units. Just imagine if this had of been half inch hardline coax for the TV and 200 pair 26 gauge copper for the telephone and internet.

This type of fibre topology uses a shared feed cable to optical splitters in the field which are used to multiplex the fibre to each customer premise. It’s called a passive network because there is no active electronics between the Central Office Equipment and ONU. This topology is the most favoured of all the FTTH solutions as it delivers a substainially lower outside plant cost. The splitters are not much larger than a pen and take in a single optical signal and divide it into 32 smaller optical signals. The loss is a logarithmic calculation depending on the number of splits, effectively 3dB for every power of 2. (i.e 1x2 is 3dB, 1x32 is 15dB). This value is only in a perfect world, so a typical 32 way splitter usually has a loss of 16-17dB.

In the case of Belswan, six PONs were installed with thirty two ONUs (one for each living unit) each. In the downstream the PON delivers a Gigabit of capacity to each and every home using the 1490nm wavelength and in the upstream 1310nm. In addition the TV signal is overlaid using a separate 1550nm wavelength, ensuring all the gigabit capacity is available for voice and data.


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