On the heels of a favorable regulatory ruling, SBC is building out a fiber network to bring higher speed services and new applications to businesses and consumers.The RBOC is investing $6 billion over the next three to four years for a so-called Fiber-to-the-Neighborhood (FTTN) deployment, SBC Chairman Ed Whitacre said during his keynote address at the Supercomm 2004 conference in Chicago. SBC's official statement is $4 billion to $6 billion over five years, but Whitacre narrowed it down to three or four when buttonholed after his keynote.The buildout follows the D.C. District Court of Appeals decision to dismantle the FCC's Unbundled Network Element-Platform (UNE-P) policy on wholesaling RBOC facilities to competitive local exchange carriers. RBOCs have maintained for years that UNE-P\u2019s government-mandated rates lost them money and discouraged investment.UNE-P was extracted from the Telecom Act of 1996 on June 16.The FTTN deployment is also based on SBC\u2019s assumption that new FCC wholesaling regulations being developed will be more market friendly.\u201cThe stage could be set for a regulatory environment that encourages rapid deployment of next-generation networks,\u201d Whitacre said in his address. \u201cEverybody recognized the rules have held back what we need to do. Everybody\u2019s ready to try something different.\u201dFTTN will provide 15M to 20M bit\/sec of bandwidth for switched video, and higher-speed DSL and VoIP services to homes and businesses, Whitacre said. SBC is working with Microsoft to provision IP TV to homes on the network, he said.FTTN is mostly in trials this year, but next year 20 million to 25 million of the access lines in SBC\u2019s 13-state territory could be connected to the network, Whitacre said.SBC will continue to invest in Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) buildouts for new homes and other greenfield deployments, he said. But FTTN is a less expensive and disruptive way to get fiber close to homes and businesses because it does not require as much trenching to lay new cable, Whitacre said.