& cplSiteName &

AT&T: We're Sticking With FTTN

Phil Harvey
News Analysis
Phil Harvey
10/17/2006
50%
50%

Rumors that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is abandoning the fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) part of its Project Lightspeed broadband access network makeover are being shot down by the carrier and industry analysts this week.

Following a fiber-to-the-home conference and the Broadband World Forum, analysts, equipment makers, and competitors once again trotted out speculation that AT&T's FTTN efforts aren't going well and that the carrier is close to reaching a decision to retool its broadband strategy, perhaps even embracing a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) plan similar to Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s.

AT&T says the speculation is way off base. Using FTTN, plus some FTTP rollouts where it makes sense, "allows us to reach more customers in a shorter amount of time," says Wes Warnock, an AT&T spokesman. "And we think it's the wisest use of our capex, and that's how we intend to reach 19 million customers by the end of 2008."

Unlike Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), which is taking its fiber connections all the way to consumer homes, AT&T is taking fiber to the node (or, roughly speaking, the neighborhood) in most cases and delivering services via VDSL on the copper lines that already reach consumer homes. This method is said to be less expensive than Verizon's approach, but the company has been under constant fire for the plan since it was announced.

It should be noted that AT&T is doing some FTTP buildouts, but only in selected areas and mostly in new residential neighborhoods. Of the 19 million customers the company is aiming to pass with fiber, only about 1 million will be reached via FTTP.

So where does the naysaying get its legs? One place is the constant criticism that AT&T's FTTN approach won't be able to support a true high-definition TV service. The company started its U-verse TV service as a standard-definition-only service, and that first fueled criticism that the company was having technical troubles.

But a few weeks ago, AT&T did start an HDTV test in some of its employees' homes in Houston. Its IPTV service, U-verse TV, isn't available commercially in Houston yet, but the carrier has made it clear that Houston will be its next market after San Antonio -- the city that's home to AT&T's headquarters.

FTTP equipment makers may also be doing their fair share of rumor-mongering, say industry analysts. "I chalk up the speculation to some vendors' wishful thinking," says Millennium Marketing analyst Kermit Ross. Ross adds that he thinks AT&T is on track to add more FTTN sites next year than it did this year. "They're nowhere near giving up on FTTN," he says.

"The problem is that no one is sure what VDSL can really deliver," says Graham Finnie, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. That, he says, is why it's too soon to say whether FTTN will pan out, even as carriers make plans to roll out multiple HDTV streams per household, and consumer bandwidth demand grows.

In his June report on FTTP, Finnie writes that VDSL2, in theory, "can indeed offer 100 Mbit/s of capacity in both upstream and downstream directions simultaneously." But, when factoring in loop lengths, crosstalk, noise, and other "real world" conditions, the throughput for FTTN networks varies. "Alcatel estimated that in 'real' network conditions, VDSL2 could be expected to deliver 32 Mbit/s in each direction on 500-meter loops," Finnie writes.

AT&T's Warnock says the carrier's FTTN/VDSL customers are happy with U-verse, and its HDTV trials are going well. He says AT&T is still on track to offer U-verse in 15 to 20 markets by the end of this year across the carrier's 13-state territory -– and all of those markets will launch with HD service from the get-go.

Some of those markets are in North Texas -- Light Reading has been reporting for months that AT&T is upgrading its telco and video plant all over the region, as it prepares to offer FTTN in established neighborhoods and FTTP connections in newer housing developments. (See AT&T Readies Lightspeed in North Texas.)

In one area closely watched -- Frisco's Pearson Farms subdivision -– Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and AT&T are set to battle it out as new homes are built. (See Hunting Project Lightspeed and Lightspeed Unauthorized.) Video will reach neighborhoods there after it has traversed one of AT&T's two national content aggregation centers (master headends); one of its 40 IP video hubs (regional headends); and one of its 140 video serving offices (local distribution points).

As that battle shapes up, neighborhood by neighborhood, AT&T says the benefits of IPTV will help it distinguish itself from its cable competitors. Already, Warnock says, U-verse customers in San Antonio can record up to four standard-definition TV programs at once on their DVRs -– a feat that's impossible on most cable systems without expensive multituner set-top boxes.

Ross says telcos big and small are watching Verizon and AT&T -– and the trials and tribulations of FTTP vs. FTTN -- with interest. The two behemoths are tackling a question every telco will have to address sooner or later, Ross says: "How do I build or rebuild my outside plant to achieve my strategic goals?"

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
50%
50%
"Ill" Duce,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:37:32 AM
re: AT&T: We're Sticking With FTTN
I am on the SE corner of Stonebriar Mall, and TWC has sent me a notice they are upgrading their OSP in the area. I was also told by one of the techs that they are going to a single wire delivery system rather than the old two-wire. (wow, were joining the mid-80s.)I also got a notice form AT&T telling me they are offering 6mb wireless (for a whole crapload of money.) When do I get my FIOS/anything other than TWC?


DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:37:31 AM
re: AT&T: We're Sticking With FTTN
I dunno. I guess you're like me and live in a Homezone 'hood.

The crap thing about that is if you're already a DISH customer, AT&T won't allow you to get Homezone.

No convergence for you!!
SuperChargeAccess
50%
50%
SuperChargeAccess,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:37:13 AM
re: AT&T: We're Sticking With FTTN
VDSL from FTTC sure sounds like the best compromise!
paolo.franzoi
50%
50%
paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:37:10 AM
re: AT&T: We're Sticking With FTTN

FTTC only has reasonable economics for very high density homes. To meet the FCC limit to equate it to FTTP, that means 500 feet of copper. If you are on Acre lots that would equate to about 4 homes per ONU. On small lots, that same number can be 10 or 12.

seven
From The Founder
Light Reading sits down at CES with the head of Cisco's service provider video business, Conrad Clemson, to discuss how NFV and cloud security relate to video, the challenge of managing 4K/8K traffic, the global expansion of Netflix and virtual reality.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TeliaSonera: Striving for Independence

2|12|16   |     |   (0) comments


Peter Lagergren discusses the importance of decoupling the network from services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Ken Wang on U-vMOS

2|12|16   |     |   (0) comments


Ken Wang discusses how video will take of the traffic on carrier networks and become a basic service to provide to end users.
LRTV Documentaries
All Change in Video

2|11|16   |   33:12   |   (1) comment


At this moderated panel at 2020 Vision in Dublin, Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader of Light Reading, sits down with Jeff Finkelstein, director of network architecture at Cox Communications, to discuss the rapidly changing video market.
LRTV Custom TV
Hosting in Ireland, Past & Present

2|10|16   |   16:07   |   (0) comments


Garry Connolly, president of Host in Ireland, presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Dublin.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
What's Hot in Mobile Commerce?

2|10|16   |   12:18   |   (1) comment


Claire Maslen, financial services relationship manager at the GSMA, talks about the development of the digital commerce sector and the types of relationships that mobile operators are developing to further their m-commerce strategies.
LRTV Documentaries
EANTC Tests Nokia IP Routing & Mobile Gateway VNFs for Real World Deployment

2|9|16   |   5:08   |   (1) comment


Nokia obtained validation of its virtualized router and virtualized mobile gateway capabilities through rigorous testing performed by EANTC. The results set a new industry benchmark for outstanding performance, scalability, resiliency and manageability. Nokia VNFs are ready for telco cloud deployment, so that service providers can accelerate mobile, business and ...
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Level 3's Jack Waters

2|8|16   |   26:15   |   (1) comment


Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders sits down with Level 3 Communications' CTO Jack Waters to discuss hot topics like virtualization, 4K and the future of telecom...
LRTV Custom TV
The Composable Telco

2|8|16   |   24:46   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Principal Analyst Caroline Chappell presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Dublin.
LRTV Custom TV
Join Us at the Digital Operations Transformation Summit

2|4|16   |   03:52   |   (0) comments


The Digital Operations Transformation Summit on February 21, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Barcelona Fira Centre will bring together 50 senior executives to engage in a unique debate on the opportunities and challenges presented by the transformative evolving digital landscape. RSVP now at events@lightreading.com.
LRTV Custom TV
Making the Test: ADVA Ensemble Connector vs. Open vSwitch

2|4|16   |   01:28   |   (0) comments


Light Reading, in partnership with EANTC, recently tested ADVA's Ensemble Connector, which replaces open vSwitch and offers carrier-grade capability and interoperability. The test results strengthen ADVA's credibility as a provider in the virtualization space.
LRTV Custom TV
Bridging the Gap Between PoCs & Deployment in NFV

2|4|16   |   31:50   |   (0) comments


Charlie Ashton of Wind River presents the keynote at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Dublin.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Mike Aquino

2|3|16   |   17:34   |   (0) comments


The former CEO of Overture Networks, Mike Aquino, discusses why truly open virtualization solutions provide service providers with the greatest choice.
Upcoming Live Events
March 10, 2016, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 5, 2016, The Ritz Carlton, Charlotte, NC
May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Yahoo & Verizon Sitting in a Tree...
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 2/8/2016
Vodafone: Flexible Work Policies Boost Profits
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/8/2016
AT&T Lights Fire Under 5G, Plans 2016 Trials
Iain Morris, News Editor, 2/12/2016
Andreessen Facepalms on Facebook Free Basics
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 2/10/2016
It's Time to Integrate OTT Video
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 2/8/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders sits down with Level 3 Communications' CTO Jack Waters to discuss hot topics like virtualization, 4K and the future of telecom...
The former CEO of Overture Networks, Mike Aquino, discusses why truly open virtualization solutions provide service providers with the greatest choice.
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and G.fast for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.