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Managing Editor

RBOCs push fiber closer to users

Jun 02, 20033 mins

Three regional Bell operating companies last week adopted a set of common technical requirements for extending fiber-optic cabling and equipment to homes and businesses.

BellSouth, SBC and Verizon say the industry standard-compliant Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) specifications will grease the skids for deployment of next-generation broadband networks that deliver high-bandwidth Internet, voice and video services and applications to corporations and residences. Such on-demand applications include PC backup, telecommuting, high-definition videoconferencing and premises surveillance, and interactive gaming.

Bradner doesn’t buy it

Read why he thinks the RBOCs are making a mistake with their broadband/video plans.

Approximately 10% of businesses in the U.S. have fiber access to a service provider network, industry executives have said.

The RBOCs say the specifications will let equipment manufacturers develop and build less-expensive FTTP equipment for them and other service providers. The RBOCs issued a letter to telecom equipment manufacturers last week stating that they soon will seek proposals for equipment based on the new FTTP requirements.

One such vendor awaiting that RFP is Wave7 Optics.

“As a whole to the FTTH [Fiber to the Home] industry, this is great news,” says Thomas Tighe, CEO of Wave7. “We’re always big believers that when the industry picks up, access is where it is going to start.”

Wave7 is not in any RBOC trials but Tighe says the RBOCs are interested in Wave7’s product. The company makes a Layer 3 Ethernet switch for businesses, multidwelling units, high rises and residential areas that delivers up to 500M bit/sec per user over fiber extended up to 49 miles, Tighe says.

Analysts say the FTTP consensus could have broad implications for the industry.

“This is a really big thing,” says Daniel Briere, CEO of TeleChoice. “It applies volume to a market that hasn’t had volume yet. It’s a major, ‘get the industry over a hurdle’ price reduction [and] a tacit acknowledgement that the networks RBOCs have today are not going to cut it vs. cable.”

Briere says the RBOCs’ RFP could call for as many as 1 million units per year. He says it favors the Full Service Access Network standards and broadband passive optical networking equipment over the Ethernet in the First Mile standards and Ethernet PON gear.

“PON is the next DSL,” says Briere, whose company helped start up an organization called the PON Forum. “In the next five years, it will all be PON.”

He says the RFP will catalyze consolidation in the industry as large vendors such as Lucent, Nortel and Siemens, acquire smaller PON vendors to respond to the FTTP proposal.

Qwest was the only RBOC that did not endorse the FTTP spec.

“We did know about the FTTH RFP,” a Qwest spokeswoman says. “[But] after conducting our own internal analysis on FTTH, we determined that it didn’t meet our own success threshold.”

BellSouth, SBC and Verizon plan to independently deploy FTTP equipment and networks beginning next year, pending resolution of related regulatory issues, among other factors. The FCC is expected to soon issue its final order under its triennial review of network interconnection regulations. That ruling, the first of several anticipated, is expected to include provisions that more clearly set forth the FCC’s policy regarding new network technologies such as FTTP.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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