Title:
Network terminal cover
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Customer premises equipment (CPE), such as optical network terminals (ONT), are often located on the outside of a premises, and are susceptible to theft and to weather elements. A cap for portions of customer premises equipment (CPE) used in telecommunications networks protects the CPE from theft and from the weather elements. The cap typically covers a portion of the CPE that carries communications and power connectors, providing protection from the weather elements. Additionally, the cap may be lockable, preventing unauthorized removal of the CPE or portions of the CPE. The cap may also provide strain relief for cables coupled to the CPE. The cap may also prevent unauthorized removal of covers on a CPE housing that protects valuable components, such as battery back-ups.



Inventors:
Bernard, Marc R. (Miramar, FL, US)
Atkinson, Douglas A. (Ashburn, VA, US)
Liu, David H. (Herndon, VA, US)
Roesch, Joseph C. (Herndon, VA, US)
Application Number:
12/154227
Publication Date:
11/26/2009
Filing Date:
05/21/2008
Assignee:
Tellabs Vienna, Inc. (Naperville, IL, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
312/237
International Classes:
A47B81/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PATEL, DHIRUBHAI R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAMILTON, BROOK, SMITH & REYNOLDS, P.C. (CONCORD, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A network terminal device, comprising: a housing having a first cavity with an engagable cover; and a cap configured to define a second cavity between itself and the housing in a coupled state with the housing and to prevent a user from disengaging the engagable cover when in the coupled state with the housing.

2. The network terminal device of claim 1 wherein the cap may be fully coupled or semi-coupled to the housing and wherein the cap prevents the user from disengaging the engagable cover in the fully coupled state and allows the user to disengage the engagable cover in the semi-coupled state.

3. The network terminal device of claim 2 wherein the cap includes a hinge between a first portion of the cap and a second portion of the cap and wherein the cap is fully coupled when the two portions of the cap are in a first orientation around the hinge and is semi-coupled when the two portions of the cap are in a second orientation around the hinge.

4. The network terminal device of claim 1 further comprising a bracket to which the housing and the cap are each configured to be coupled.

5. The network terminal device of claim 4 wherein the bracket includes a storage cavity configured to store slack of a cable coupled to the network terminal device.

6. The network terminal device of claim 4 wherein the bracket is configured as a base upon which the housing is seated.

7. The network terminal device of claim 1 wherein the housing includes a base and the cap is configured to be coupled to the base and the housing.

8. The network terminal device of claim 7 wherein the base defines a storage cavity configured to store slack of a cable coupled to the network terminal device.

9. The network terminal device of claim 1 wherein the housing includes connector components to receive connectors on cables and wherein the cap is configured to support access for the cables to be coupled to the connector components and provide strain relief for the cables.

10. The network terminal device of claim 1 wherein the cap or housing includes a locking mechanism to prevent impermissible decoupling of the cap from the housing.

11. The network terminal device of claim 10 wherein the locking mechanism includes at least one of the following: a turnkey, a solenoid, a mechanical latch, and an electromagnetic latch.

12. The network terminal device of claim 1 wherein the cap forms a weather-resistant seal with the housing when in a coupled state.

13. The network terminal device of claim 1 wherein the cap includes a transparent window configured to enable a user to view at least a portion of the second cavity.

14. A network terminal device of claim 1 further including: a network terminal element to support access of customer premises equipment to a network; and wherein the cap is configured to be coupled to the network terminal element to enable the network terminal element to continue to support access of the customer premises equipment to the network.

15. A method of securing a network terminal device, comprising: preventing removal of an engagable cover on a first cavity in a housing of a network terminal device while integrally and simultaneously providing a slack storage second cavity external from the housing of the network terminal device.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein preventing removal of the engagable cover includes temporarily permitting disengagement of the engagable cover.

17. The method of claim 15 further comprising integrally and simultaneously preventing removal of the network terminal device from a bracket supporting the network terminal device.

18. The method of claim 15 further comprising integrally and simultaneously providing strain relief for the cable coupled to the network terminal device.

19. The method of claim 15 wherein preventing removal of the engagable cover includes enabling unlocking of the engagable cover to temporarily allow disengagement of the engagable cover.

20. The method of claim 19 wherein enabling unlocking of the engagable cover includes at least one of the following: turning of a key; enabling energizing of a solenoid; enabling deenergizing of a solenoid; enabling disengaging of a mechanical latch; and enabling disengaging of an electromagnetic latch.

21. The method of claim 15 further comprising simultaneously sealing a coupled end of the cable coupled to the network terminal device from weather elements.

22. The method of claim 15 further comprising simultaneously enabling viewing of at least a portion of the second cavity.

23. The method of claim 15 further comprising simultaneously enabling the network terminal device to support access to a network.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

An increasing number of homes and businesses are receiving telecommunications services, e.g., television, telephone, and Internet, from fiber optic cable. The fiber optic cable in some telecommunications networks is being extended all the way to the customers' premises to fiber optic premises connections, dramatically increasing the speed at which data can be transferred. These fiber optic premises connections employ customer premises equipment (CPE), which may typically be an optical network terminal (ONT).

ONTs have several delicate connections for the fiber optic cable, a power cable, and at least one data cable to other customer premises equipment. These connections can be exposed to weather elements if the ONT is mounted to an exterior of the premises and may be exposed to tampering or accidental jarring by the customer. Additionally, ONTs typically have an internal battery to provide a minimum amount of service in the event of a primary power loss. The batteries are typically lithium-ion batteries, which are expensive to replace. The batteries may be covered with an unsecured cover that can easily be removed, allowing the battery to be removed and possibly stolen. Also, the ONT itself is valuable, and its mounting on a wall, especially outside, makes it susceptible to theft or to being accidentally knocked down.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An embodiment of the present invention enhances security and weather resistance of customer premises equipment (CPES) by placing a cap over a portion of the CPE.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing will be apparent from the following more particular description of example embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings in which like reference characters refer to the same parts throughout the different views. The drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 1A is a mechanical diagram of an optical network terminatal (ONT) typical of customer premises equipment (CPE);

FIG. 1B is a mechanical diagram of the ONT of FIG. 1A attached to a mounting bracket;

FIG. 2 is a mechanical diagram of an ONT with an embodiment of a cap covering a portion of the ONT;

FIG. 3A is a front view diagram of an embodiment of a cap with holes for accommodating cables;

FIG. 3B is a close-up diagram of a hole in the cap of FIG. 3A with a grommet in the hole;

FIG. 4 is a front view of an embodiment of a cap according to the present invention with a see-through screen;

FIG. 5 is a front view of an embodiment of a cap with a liquid crystal display (LCD) or light-emitting diode (LED) display panel and control buttons;

FIG. 6 is a mechanical diagram of an embodiment of a cap with a locking mechanism;

FIG. 7A is a mechanical diagram of an embodiment of a cap with two sections connected by a hinge;

FIG. 7B is a mechanical diagram of the cap of FIG. 7A in an open position;

FIG. 8A is a front view mechanical diagram of an ONT with a cap with a locking pin engaging a battery cover;

FIG. 8B is a side view mechanical diagram of the ONT of FIG. 8A with the locking pin on the cap engaging the battery cover; and

FIG. 8C is a side view mechanical diagram of the ONT of FIG. 8A with the locking pin on the cap disengaged from the battery cover.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A description of example embodiments of the invention follows.

FIG. 1A shows an optical network terminal (ONT) 100, which is an example of customer premises equipment (CPE), that connects a customer's communications equipment, e.g., computers, telephones, and televisions, to a telecommunications service provider. The ONT 100 includes an outer case 102 with an engagable cover 104 that covers a battery compartment (not shown) or another cavity of the ONT 100. A face 106 of the ONT 100 carries various connectors, including a power connector 108, coaxial cable connector 110, fiber optic cable connector 112, Ethernet (CAT-5) connector 114, and two telephone connectors 116. The ONT 100 transmits data to and receives data from a telecommunications network (not shown) via a fiber optic cable (not shown) connected to a fiber optic cable connector 112. Televisions, computers, and telephones on the customer's premises may be connected to the coaxial cable connector 110, Ethernet connector 114, and telephone connectors 116, respectively, on the ONT 100.

FIG. 1B shows the ONT 100 of FIG. 1A—with connector details removed for clarity—with a bracket 120 attached to the outer case 102. The bracket 120 may be mounted to a wall (not shown), and the ONT 100 may be hung on the bracket. In many applications, the bracket 120 is installed on an exterior wall of a building or inside a garage, locations at which the ONT may be exposed to large temperature variations and different weather conditions.

FIG. 2 shows an example cap 200 according to an example embodiment of the present invention. The cap 200 is attached to an ONT 202 such that it covers a face 206 housing various connectors, such as those shown in FIG. 1A. The example cap 200 also covers a portion of a battery cover 204 such that the battery cover 204 cannot be opened or removed. Advantageously, the cap 200 protects the face 206 and various connectors from the elements, e.g., moisture, and also from tampering. The cap 200 may include a seal 206, such as a rubber gasket, to prevent moisture or dirt, for example, from reaching the connectors, and optionally provide strain relief.

An embodiment of the present invention enhances security of customer premises equipment (CPEs) by placing a cap over a portion of the CPE. Embodiments of the cap include holes that support cables connected to the CPE. The cap may be lockable and may block access to a battery compartment cover on the CPE and may also lock the CPE to a mounting bracket. The lock may include a bolt with a keyed head or a electrically or mechanically actuated latch. The cap may also cover connectors of cables connected to the CPE, providing protection from weather elements. The cap may also provide storage for slack in the cables and provide strain relief for the cables. The cap may also serve as a base upon which the CPE rests.

In some embodiments, the cap includes two sections connected by a hinge to allow the cap to be partially disconnected from the CPE.

In other embodiments, the cap is in electrical communication with the CPE and enables the CPE to continue to support CPE access to the network. In some embodiments, the cap is in electrical communication with the CPE and provides indications about operation of the CPE on a liquid crystal display (LCD) or light-emitting diode (LED) screen. The LCD or LED screen may support access to information regarding battery power level, data transmission speeds, and network connectivity status.

FIG. 3A shows an example of a cap 300 according to an embodiment of the present invention in which holes 302a-f are incorporated in a face 304 of the cap 300. The holes 302a-f enable various cables (not shown) to reach and interface with connectors (not shown) located on an ONT (not shown) behind the cap 300.

FIG. 3B shows an embodiment in which the holes 302a-f include grommets 306. FIG. 3B shows a close-up view of a hole 302a with a grommet 306. The grommet 306 is typically formed of a flexible material, such as rubber, and may provide a seal around a cable (not shown) passing therethrough. The grommet 306 may also provide strain relief for a cable (not shown), isolating the connectors (not shown) from tugs on the portion of the cables extending outside of the cap 300.

FIG. 4 shows an example of a cap 400 in which a face 404 of the cap 400 has a transparent window 402. The window 402 allows a user to view connectors (not shown) connected to an ONT (not shown). Such a view is useful for determining a cause of lost service, such as a loose connection. The window 402 also allows viewing of any indicator or status lights (not shown) that may be incorporated onto the ONT and maintained behind the cap 400.

FIG. 5 shows an embodiment of a cap 500 in which a face 504 of the cap 500 has an electronic display screen 502. The display screen 502 may be, for example, either a liquid crystal display (LCD) or a light-emitting diode (LED) display. The display screen 502 is connected to an ONT (not shown) by an electrical connector (not shown), such as a universal serial bus (USB) port that provides data and power to the display screen 502. Typically, the data screen 502 provides information regarding operation of the ONT, such as information on power source, battery charge remaining, battery charging status, network connectivity, or data transfer speeds. The data screen 502 may also provide maintenance and set-up information, including information such as time delay for equalization on a network. Optionally, the cap 500 may include one or more buttons 506a-c that allow(s) a user, such as a technician, to interact with information and/or instructions on the display panel 502 and adjust operating settings of the ONT 100. The buttons 506a-c may incorporate a password or keying function to permit only authorized users to access the information and/or instructions on the screen.

FIG. 6 shows an embodiment of a cap 606 on an ONT 602 covering a portion of the ONT 602 and also an engagable battery cover 604. The cap 606 and ONT 602 incorporate a locking feature 608 that prevents or discourages removal of the cover 606. If the cap 606 is also attached to a mounting bracket 120, as discussed above, then the locking mechanism 608 also prevents or prohibits removal of the ONT 602 from the surface to which it is mounted. The locking mechanism may take any form, such as a screw or bolt with a keyed head, such as a TELCO tool. In other embodiments, the locking mechanism 608 may be housed completely within the ONT 602 and interior portions of the cap 606. For example, the interior portion of the cap 606 may include a latch hook (not shown) that mates to a receiver on the ONT 602.

The receiver may incorporate a tab that engages the latch hook when inserted, preventing the latch hook from being removed until the tab is disengaged. The tab may be spring-loaded in the engaged position such that a temporary force must be exerted to move the tab to a disengaging position. The force may be provided, for example, by a solenoid (not shown) or by a person. An advantage of using a solenoid is that the solenoid activation—and subsequent disengagement of the locking tab—may be accomplished electronically. For example, a technician may be able to activate the solenoid by entering a combination of keys 506a-c on a cap. Alternatively, the solenoid may be activated by a service provider supplying the ONT 602 to the customer via network communications from a server (not shown) to the ONT 602. The completely internal locking mechanism 608 just described is advantageous because it cannot be overridden by an unauthorized individual. The locking mechanism 608 may also be configured such that if the cap 606 is forced from the ONT 602 or if the ONT 602 and cap 606 are forced from the bracket 120, the latch irreparably damages the circuitry of the ONT 602, making the ONT 602 worthless or at least identifiable as a “tampered with” device.

An embodiment of a cap, such as cap 606 shown in FIG. 6, may also include an activating mechanism (not shown) that interacts with a corresponding activating mechanism on an ONT, such as ONT 602 in FIG. 6. The ONT may operate only when the two activating mechanisms are interacting. Examples of activating mechanisms interacting include a tab on the cap depressing an electrical switch on the ONT or an electrically conductive tab on the cap being inserted into the ONT and closing an electrical circuit on the ONT. In addition to preventing operation when the activating mechanisms are not interacting, an ONT may be configured to maintain a log of the state of the activating mechanism's interacting to provide evidence of tampering.

FIG. 7A shows an embodiment of a cap 700 that includes two sections: an upper section 702 and a lower section 704. The upper section 702 and the lower section 704 are connected by a hinge 706, about which the two sections pivot with respect to each other. The lower section 704 is attached to an ONT 708 (shown as dashed lines) and to bracket 712, locking the bracket 712 and ONT 708 together as described above. The upper section 702 is attached to the lower section 704 by the hinge 706. In a state in which the cap 700 is attached to ONT 708 and the upper section 702 and lower section 704 are brought together as shown in FIG. 7A, the upper section 702 also latches to the ONT 708. The upper section 702 and lower section 704 of the cap 700 may lock to the ONT 708. The locking mechanism (not shown) may be a single locking mechanism that locks both the upper section 702 and the lower section 704. Alternatively, a separate locking mechanism (not shown) may operate on each of the two sections 702, 704. In the closed position shown in FIG. 7A, the upper section 702 blocks access to the battery cover, and the cap 700 blocks access to the face of the ONT 708 carrying various connectors (not shown).

FIG. 7B shows the cap 700 of FIG. 7A in the open position. The upper section 702 pivots around the hinge 706 to the open position. The lower section 704 remains attached to the ONT 708 and to the bracket 712 (hidden from view). Consequently, the bracket 712, ONT 708, and cap 700 remain locked together. However, by opening the cap 700, the engagable battery cover 710 and the various connectors 712, 714, 716, 718, 720 may be accessed.

FIG. 7B shows the cap 700 of FIG. 7A with one possible configuration of holes 722a-f for accepting wires that connect to the connectors 712, 714, 716, 718, 720. The holes 722a-f may include grommets, such as grommets 306 shown in FIG. 3B.

FIG. 8A shows an example cap 806 attached to an ONT 802 having a pin 810 capturing a battery cover 804. The pin 810 extends through a hole 812 in a tab 808, which is attached to the battery cover 804. FIG. 8B shows the cap 806 of FIG. 8A from the side and clearly shows pin 810 attached to the cap 806 and extending through hole 812 in tab 808. The pin 810 prevents the battery cover 804 from being lifted up. When cap 806 is disengaged from the ONT 802, as shown by arrow 814, the pin 810 is withdrawn from the hole 812 in the tab 808. Battery cover 804 may then be removed as indicated by arrow 816.

While this invention has been particularly shown and described with references to example embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention encompassed by the appended claims.