Fiber to the Home

On March 24, 2010 TM launched UniFi, its much-awaited High Speed Broadband service. According to TM, UniFi is a combination of “Uni” signifying togetherness and camaraderie, and “Fi” symbolizing fiber optics.

For residential customers, UniFi offers a bundled triple-play service of high-speed internet, video and phone. For internet, the speed choices are 5 Mbps, 10 Mbps or 20 Mbps. For video, it is IPTV, delivered on a separate 8 Mbps channel, and consisting of TV channels, Video on Demand and Interactive Services.

Service delivered would depend on the type of building the customer resides in. For houses, it would be optical fiber all the way, in what is known as Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) architecture. For high-rise building such as apartments and condominiums, the fiber runs to the ground floor of the building, and then connects to the customer’s premises via existing in-building copper cabling, in what is known as Fiber-To-The-Building (FTTB)+Very high speed Digital Subscriber Line (VDSL) configuration.

On March 24, I was in Busan, South Korea (see here, and here) eagerly following the launch online. TM’s website was congested, so I could not get updates from that site. Instead, I got an almost real-time information of the launch on Twitter.

It was exciting. I could literally experience UniFi in Busan. Not the Malaysian UniFi, but the Korean high-speed internet which gave me glimpses of what UniFi could deliver. I consistently experienced aggregates of 5 Mbps or more downloading movies! One of the movies I managed to locate and download was Splash, a 1984 movie I watched 3 times (!) at a cinema in Perth, Australia, when I was a final year Electrical Engineering student at UWA suffering from examination blues.

Was my home in UniFi coverage?. Seemed to be that way. At launch, we were informed that premises in 4 areas of Klang Valley were covered by UniFi – Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, TTDI and Bangsar. I was confident that my home was in one of the 4 areas because way back in November 2009 I saw TM contractors laying fiber optic cables around my neighborhood and terminating them at newly constructed roadside cabinets. Talking to them, I gathered that their target was to complete the works before Eid Adha which fell on November 27, 2009. Additionally, I observed a new black cable with yellow stripes being strung on poles in the lane behind my house.

However, that was not meant to be. Even though the physical infrastructure was all there, the service was not yet available. That was it, until the morning of July 19, 2010, ten days after I had registered online,Β  I received a phone call from TM UniFi Centre informing me that UniFi was now available in my neighborhood.

In the afternoon of the same day, July 19, I went to the nearest TM Point outlet, and signed the required papers. Actually I did not need to do that, i.e. go to TM Point. After confirming that my house is in a UniFi area, I could have simply phoned TM UniFi Centre, told them that I wanted to sign up, and they would have given me a date for installation. During installation, TM staff would bring the necessary papers for me to sign.

Considering that UniFi service involves equipment more expensive that normal phone service, I found the new phone-in option by TM to be very refreshing and very welcome change. However I still prefer the old fashioned way. There’s nothing like holding a copy of the order form in my hands, to assure myself that I was really on my way to UniFi…

On July 30, 2010, the date of the appointment with UniFi installers, I took a one day leave from work. Actually I took two days – one day to prune a guava fruit tree behind my house which had grown too big that the fiber and copper cables in the back lane were partially hidden in the branches; and another day for the UniFi installation.

Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) Network Diagram. Each house is served by a single lighted fiber with downstream and upstream data being transmitted on different wavelength on the same fiber.

A typical TM UniFi wiring at a landed house.

A TM UniFi technician at the Fiber Distribution Point (FDP) on a telephone pole in the backlane of my house.

Inside the FDP box. The blue things are passive optical splitters. I was the first customer to be in this box, and I believe the first in the neighborhood to be optically connected!

The optical fiber drop cable in a 500m-length drum.

The cable was a local product, newly manufactured 3 months ago in April 2010

Two of three UniFi technicians, with the optical cable drum.

Preparing an optical connector for the Fiber Distribution Point box.

Stringing the optical drop cable from the FDP box to my house.

Structure of the optical drop cable.

Actual drop cable used by UniFi. 2 optical fiber cores, smaller than a needle, about same size as a human hair. The fiber type is Single-Mode.

Preparing optical connector for the Fiber Termination Box (FTB).

The FTB installed at the back wall of the house, its cover taken off. We can see fiber from the FDP coiled inside, terminated to a connector. Fiber going into the house was not yet done when this picture was taken.

Cable from the FTB was terminated at a Fiber Wall Socket (FWS) in the living room. This picture was taken from the net.

A UniFi bag brought by the technicians. It contained test equipment, or so I thought.

High Speed Broadband, on the other side of the bag.

The bag contained these four UniFi customer premises items – IPTV Set-top Box, Optical Network Unit (optical modem), Router and a DECT cordless phone; not test equipment as I had earlier thought.

All connected, tested and ready to go : cordless phone, optical modem, router, IPTV set-top box and its infrared remote controller.

TM-branded Huawei GPON Terminal. I call this an optical modem. The white cable at the top right is the fiber connected to the Fiber Wall Socket.

Back of the optical modem. From Left to Right: Optical cable, LAN cable to router, telephone cable to cordless phone, power cable from AC adaptor.

Underneath view of the modem. It is a Huawei EchoLife HG850a GPON Terminal.

D-Link DIR-615 Wireless-N router.

Back of the router, Left to Right: Antenna1, Red LAN cable to IPTV Set-top Box, LAN cable to optical modem, power cable, Antenna2.

Huawei IPTV Set-Top Box EC 2108E.

Back of the IPTV Set-top Box, Left to Right: Red LAN cable from router, Component Video sockets, Composite Video socket, Audio sockets, power cable. There are also sockets for S-video, HDMI and USB.

Underneath the IPTV Set-Top Box.

AC Power Adaptors for the 4 UniFi customer premises devices.

Channel mosaic screen of UniFi IPTV HyppTV service.

Second page of the HyppTV channel mosaic screen.

HyppTV Video-on-Demand screen.

HyppTV Interactive screen.

HyppTV Interactive Flight Information main screen.

Detailed flight information. This screen showed international arrivals at KL International Airport.

Internet speed test using a local Kuala Lumpur server. In this instance I got 4.96 Mbps download. The service I signed on was 5 Mbps. Impressive.

Internet speed test using a Los Angeles server, located 8,800 miles (14,162 km) away. In this instance I got 4.09 Mbps download. Very impressive.

My Streamyx ADSL modem and router. I would be terminating this service soon, after 7 years being a Streamyx customer since June 2003. I started with 384 kbps then upgraded to 512 kbps, then finally to 1 Mbps. I was very satified with the service, and it would be sad to say goodbye.

TM’s skilled and friendly UniFi technicians – Rusli, Syazamir and Rizani.

About nordin

I view myself as a quiet and low profile person. Additionally, my former landlady in Nedlands, Perth, Western Australia once told me I was an "intense" person. Well, she might be correct as well ...
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43 Responses to Fiber to the Home

  1. Peter says:

    Excellent write up on what to expect and how it is done. I got mine last week. Seems to be good value for money. Facing some initial problems and waiting for TM to sort it out.

  2. nordin says:

    Peter, happy to hear that you’ve got your UniFi. I hope that by now the problems have been sorted out.

  3. Khaled says:

    thankx for this information
    but Are you sure, they are using Single-mode fiber.?

  4. UNIFI installer says:

    good documentation frm u..
    feel proud of my photo on ur blog..
    tq.. πŸ™‚

  5. nordin says:

    Khaled, yes they used single-mode fiber.

    UNIFI installer, thanks for the good work and for being patient with me during the installation. πŸ™‚
    Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha..

  6. Ahsuez says:

    I should have started yesterday!

    I rasa malu dengan this person, my former boss whom is also way older than me but still has high motivation to do good things for himself.

  7. nordin says:

    Su, never too late to start anything worthwhile.. First important step is to realize that we NEED to do that something.

  8. Li Ching says:

    Hi, thanks for this, made it real simple for a “girl” to understand πŸ™‚
    May I ask you one question? What’s the best way for me to set up by STB downstairs near my main TV? Since I am renovating my place, would it be worth it to run a CAT5 cable in a conduit all the way from my Study (1st floor) to the ground floor, near my main TV for this? I plan to set up the FWS, Modem, Router & Phone in my Study (1st floor). Then maybe run the CAT5 cable all the way from there to the ground floor? Any feedback will be appreciated πŸ™‚ thanks…..

  9. nordin says:

    Hi Li Ching. I’m no expert in this. I have not personally done it, so I cannot say from experience that it would work in practice.

    My view is that since you are renovating the place, running a CAT5 cable from your study to the ground floor would give you quite a flexibility.

    You would then be able to, as you said, set up the gear (FWS, modem, router, phone) in your study, and connect the modem to the STB downstairs using the laid CAT5 cable. Later on, if you don’t like the arrangement, you could place the router and phone downstairs next to the STB, and use the CAT5 cable to connect it to the modem upstairs in the study.

    Please bear in mind that the location of FWS is very important, because once the internal fiber cable has been cut and terminated to the FWS, then you cannot move it and the modem anywhere else without incurring additional cost (for a new internal fiber cable).

  10. Li Ching says:

    Great, that helped, I’ll speak to my wire man and see what he suggests…. will let you know the outcome….. unless my house burns down first because of it πŸ™‚ hehehe….

    I will also try investigating HomePlugs πŸ™‚ will let you know the outcome too….

    Thanks again for the great blog…..

  11. ChinKah says:

    Hi Nordin,

    Thank you for sharing your Unifi installation experience with us. Have a few questions to ask:

    a. Are the cables going into and out of the Fibre Termination Box (FTB) the same type of cable(ie optical fibre drop cable)?

    b. Is there a restriction on the length of the optical fibre drop cable supplied to each installation?

    c. I notice that Fibre Termination Box (FTB) is placed outside the house. Would there be any problem if it gets wet?


  12. nordin says:

    Hi Chin Kah.

    Thanks for visiting. Apologies for the many days without response. I was away in China last week. A hectic week there.

    Anyway, regarding your questions:

    a. Are the cables going into and out of the Fibre Termination Box (FTB) the same type of cable(ie optical fibre drop cable)?

    => In a standard installation, the cable going into the FTB is a black-color fiber drop cable, and going out is white-color internal fiber cable.

    b. Is there a restriction on the length of the optical fibre drop cable supplied to each installation?

    => If your house is in coverage of UniFi, there should not be any issue of the length of optical drop cable. TM would supply required cable to connect your house’s FTB to the nearest Fiber Distribution Point (FDP).

    c. I notice that Fibre Termination Box (FTB) is placed outside the house. Would there be any problem if it gets wet?

    => No problem. The FTB is designed for outdoor use. In my experience, it is very reliable. It is now nearly 1 year since UniFi was installed at my house. Alhamdulillah, there has not been any service outage due to cabling or installed UniFi equipment.


  13. panjang says:

    hi nordin.
    sy installer unifi dr johor bahru…sy nk bertanye…bacaan dr FDP 15.67.di FTB bacaannye mnjadi 17.23…drop fibre yg di tarik hanye kurang dr 25 tlah mnukar connector di FDP dan di FTB..bacaan nye hampir same seperti di atas…adakah drop cable bermasalah??dan adakah total lost ini di benarkan oleh TM ??? Dan perlukah sy menarik semula cable baru jika trjadi lg seperti d ats?

  14. yasir says:

    Thank you…..Thank you….

    The pictures and notes are excellent. It would definitely help me to plan the wiring in the house. It might be a bit difficult to change later on when the installation guys left, as it involves fiber optic cable.

  15. kamal says:

    Encik Nordin,

    very helpful info and thanks for sharing,but i was wondering if using alarm panel for example DF 3300 can use with unifi? can u mail me the contact no for TM’s guy who install the unifi at your place? need to ask them a couple of question maybe they know
    tQ very much

  16. Fadzrin Tahir says:

    Thank you vr much en nordin. very useful information

  17. nordin says:

    alhamdulillah. I’m happy that you find this little piece I wrote about unifi useful.

  18. Lim MS says:

    Nice write up. Just wondering about a few things. Currently on landed property and on 8M copper streamyx. Has a house alarm which will call my H/P when triggered and access the alarm’s voicemail menu etc.

    Current wiring,drop line from Telekom pole to roof, has a splitter in the roof which splits the line to 3 RJ11 sockets at different points in the house. Streamyx splitter is in my study (downstairs) so wifi modem router there. Has an ethernet cable that is tunneled to my upstairs lounge, goes to a router that distributes to smart TV, CCTV security recorder etc.

    A bit worried how the Unify wiring fit into all these. Any ideas?

  19. Chris says:

    Hi Nordin,

    I’m looking for Unifi Installer at Seri Alam, JB. Are you cover this area? How can i contact you?

  20. Gcontra says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I know what to expect when they come to install Unifi at my home.

  21. nordin says:

    Hi Chris, apologies for the late reply. I am a UniFi user and not an installer. If you’re still looking for the info, may I suggest you ask one of the TM outlets in JB. Thanks

  22. nordin says:

    DrLimms. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you had by now found a solution. Could not say much because I do not have the relevant personal experience. One thing I can say is that the phone line that comes with UniFi, i.e. out of the fiber modem, is a normal RJ11 phone line. So theoretically it should be able to be connected to your house alarm system.

  23. Pingback: Existing UniFi Customers Will Be Able To Upgrade To 30Mbps Package Eventually | Lowyat.NET

  24. We absolutely love your blog and find many of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content in your case? I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on most of the subjects you write concerning here. Again, awesome website!

  25. hannah tan says:

    What is function of Fiber Wall Socket? My premise don’t have it.If wanna install, charge RM50. ;-(

  26. Hello, after reading this awesome article i am as well glad to share my experience here with colleagues.

  27. Caleon says:

    Hey, I found out that the FTB got opened this afternoon and I thought some other contractors are setting up a new unifi for some other houses near my place. It then got weird when i realize it was still opened and now the worse part is, it started raining. so the rain pours and I told myself I need to close that thing before it gets any worse. I close it myself and I feel like I didn’t close it correctly as I see the cables are clipped under the box. Will the clipping cuts the cable and ruin the connection? Or the cables are designed to get below the FTB? Thanks!

  28. Pingback: TM To Unveil β€œAll New” UniFi This Week: Most Likely To Be Faster And More | Lowyat.NET

  29. hsoon says:

    Hi Nordin,

    Is the fibre optic cable the same from FTB to FWS the same type of fibre optic cable ?

    Thank you

  30. nordin says:

    Hi Hsoon. In a normal installation, the cable from the outdoor Fiber Distribution Point (FDP) to the Fiber Termination Box (FTB) is a steel-strengthened black “optical drop cable”. From the FTB to the Fiber Wall Socket (FWS) inside the house the cable used is typically of white color and does not have the steel strengthening wire.

  31. nordin says:

    Hi Hannah. For a domestic installation, the Fiber Wall Socket’s (FWS) function is to terminate the indoor fiber cable which comes from the Fiber Termination Box, typically installed on the outer wall of the premises. From the FWS another cable, a short one, is run to the optical modem. In my view the use of FWS would reduce the possibility of damage to the indoor fiber cable, because after properly installed, the cable is fixed and would not move, unlike the short cable from the FWS to the modem. Don’t know about the RM50 charge though. I would have thought FWS is part of the installation material and already covered by the installation fee.

  32. Elvi says:

    Hi Nordin, my name is Elvi. I wanna ask permission to use one of your images for company’s website. The company is running in fiber optic cable constructing. Please let me know if there’s a charge for photo royalty or else. Thanks.

  33. nordin says:

    Hi Elvi, please go ahead. Only be aware that two of the pictures are from the internet and not mine.

  34. JoeM says:

    Hi Nordin, may I ask… About the FDP box on the telephone pole, do they install on every pole down the same row of houses to provide coverage for all house?

    Reason I ask is because where I live here, they recently setup the fiber cable and FDP box, but I noticed only certain pole have (like every 2nd or 3rd pole down the row). Unfortunately, the pole nearest to my home (where my telephone line is connected to) have no any FDP box, the fiber cable only pass by and connect to the next pole with FDP.

    So I’m trying to figure out if my house can get any coverage at all, or something is really wrong with the way they setup the fiber at my Taman here.

    Thanks a lot. And thanks for writing this great informative post as well. Thought me about what to expect in installing a Unifi service (if its actually available)

  35. Jerry says:

    Hi Nordin, May i ask how far is the distance between the fiber distribution point (FDP) and the fiber termination point (FTP) at your house? And did they have a maximum allowable distance between FDP and FTP for Unifi installation? Because currently my area is in progress of installing fiber cable and it seems like the FDP might be far from where my house is located, probably like the distances of 6 houses away. Thanks.

  36. nordin says:

    Hi JoeM

    No. Nothing wrong with their set up. Not all poles would have FDP box. One FDP can serve several houses. If the pole nearest to your house does not have one, don’t worry – they will assign the nearest FDP for you and pull the fiber drop cable to your house from there.

    Hope you have the service soon. UniFi is great. Am very satisfied with it.

  37. nordin says:

    Hi Jerry

    For my house, the distance between the FDP and the FTB (Fiber Termination Box) at the back of the house is about 2 pole spans.

    Not sure about the maximum allowable distance between the FDP and FTB. But I would not worry about the distance. As far as I understand, the distribution cables and drop fibers are passive and can go quite some distance. The distribution system requires no optical repeaters – i.e. the house’s optical modem can transmit out sufficient laser power and sensitive enough to receive laser signals from the fiber exchange.

  38. Cassandra says:

    Hi Nordin,
    Nice article…. I hope you can shed some light on this…
    i just had Unifi installed at my house. FDP located on pole just a house away, cable pulled to my 2nd floor balcony, looped and anchored to wall then drop down to 1st floor. TM installers only accessed the cable thru open window, looped and anchored the cable then drilled hole directly into my study room. The hole is 5sen diameter wide and gapping. The cable from the FDP is connected directly to my modem. I don’t see any boxes on the external and internal wall. Is this normal? the very long cable direct from pole to my modem? No FTB or FWS as i can see…..
    Also, is there a policy for TM installers not able to climb onto rooftops…. that’s why the external surface wiring is not done properly…
    Please help ….. Thanks a million!

  39. Looi says:

    Hello En. Nordin,
    Good day!

    I’m surprised that your blog is still active.
    I’m just an old man, fully retired, searching for a good reason or excuse, to upgrade my good old streamyx 4Mbps package. I was already using the Internet since early 1995. First with Jaring Network, then added TM Net Dialups. I then moved over to Streamyx in late 2002.

    As for Unifi Broadband, tried as I would, no upgrade packages suits me. Firstly it is the cost-factor! Now that the new UniFi Lite is available, the system does not allow me this upgrade/package! How frustrating. The standard packages is too “powerful” and “costly” for me. The new UniFi Lite would be my best requirement, but no, that package is not available to me for the simple reason my area is a “full UniFi only area”. Sorry to rant.

    Congratulations to all who can afford the standard UniFi packages.

    Best regards

  40. Hyojeong says:

    Hi Looi,

    After reading your post, what I understand the UniFi Lite is not available in your area probably the ports are all used up.

    Since you are using Streamyx now, you can upgrade to 8Mbps Streamyx package which is now on BONAZZA PROMOTION until end of Dec 2017 – it costs only RM89 per month and the contract is for 2 years. After 2 years, the price would revert to the normal price but by that time, you can terminate it and upgrade to UniFi if any.

    Hopefully, your area can support the Streamyx up to 8Mbps which is an alternative if UniFi not available or if you want a cost-effective budget. For further info, you can call up TELEKOM by dialing 100.

  41. Ainul Talib says:

    Salam..tq sir for the very informatif blog…

  42. nordin says:

    Salam En Ainul. The post is a bit dated, but apart from the current speeds and equipment brands, the technology description is still correct. I’m waiting for my home connection to be turbo-upgraded, from 50 Mbps currently to 500 Mbps. Plan to post an update one I got the upgrade πŸ™‚

  43. nordin says:

    Hi Dennis, thanks for the post.

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