Light Reading

Shaw Vetting FTTH for All New Builds

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

US towns and cities are going ga-ga for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s 1-Gig experiment, but north of the border, Shaw Communications Inc. is already laying the foundation to test out such lofty speeds in markets such as Vancouver and Calgary, and is crafting a plan to eventually use fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) architectures in all its "greenfield" opportunities. (See Googlemania!, My Town Wants Google 1-Gig! , Google's Gigabit Fiber Fantasy, Google's Pointy Stick , and Google Jumps Into Gigabit FTTH.)

In February, the Canadian MSO outlined its intentions to try out 1-Gig speeds starting as soon as next month, but, in a recent conversation with Light Reading Cable, company execs supplied more details on how it intends to provide those speeds, where it will offer them and at what scale, and how that work might factor into Shaw's network of the future. (See Shaw Preps 1-Gig Jig .)

Shaw, says MSO senior director of infrastructure systems Scott Atkinson, is getting ready to test FTTH and 1-Gig technology in a variety of scenarios, including in multiple-dwelling units (MDUs), in single-family homes, and with small and mid-sized businesses.

The trials
The first trial will involve a new 256-suite high-rise in Vancouver, where the MSO had some control of the riser and suite ducts. "Getting cable into a building can be a bit of a challenge if you don't have the right infrastructure," says Atkinson. "In this case, we felt we had enough access and control to do the type of things we wanted to do."

So, what's it going to do? Shaw is starting by building out a physical passive optical network (PON) coupled with RF over Glass (RFoG), an emerging Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) standard that allows MSOs to bring fiber to the premises but preserve its existing headends and backend systems and RF-based video, voice, and Internet services. (See Who Makes What: RFoG Systems and RFoG Gets the Squeeze.)

Shaw expects to have that construction done as tenants start moving into the building in April and May. After that, a separate Shaw team will come in and manage the installation of the Gigabit Ethernet layer.

The MSO hasn't revealed whether it's going with GPON, EPON, or 10G-EPON. "At this juncture, we're not advising which way we're going, but all of that [discussion] is happening within our Internet and transport teams," Atkinson says.

Shaw intends to apply the same general process in Calgary, where it's already identified a 53-lot, single-family area to do the test. Atkinson says that one will start coming together in the May to June 2010 timeframe, and will utilize any technical and operational adjustments and improvements it gets from the initial Vancouver trial.

The MSO also hopes to get a commercial services pilot underway by the end of this summer, and has five or six trial areas already under consideration. It will go with the same architecture, although business customers may not be as interested in the video services that come into play with RFoG. "But the focus will be primarily on Ethernet or added services [enabled by] the Ethernet PON underlay," Atkinson says.

With the architecture work pretty much solidified, Shaw has since moved into the product-specification phase.

For the trials, Shaw intends to involve at least two vendors for each of the "major" components. For example, it's already been looking at ONUs from suppliers such as Hitachi Telecom (USA) Inc. , Aurora Networks Inc. , and Alloptic Inc. , along with optical taps from CommScope Inc. , but hasn't made any vendor commitments yet.

Shaw's future: fiber-to-the-greenfield
Although Shaw hopes to use these trials to test out apps that require 1-Gig speeds in relatively small-scale scenarios, that work will also pave the path toward a fiber-to-the-premises architecture that the MSO may eventually use in all new-build situations.

Presently, Shaw is using an "N+1" architecture in greenfields, whereby just one power-hungry, "active" amplifier resides between the node and the homes it's serving. If Shaw goes with PON and FTTP, it would leap right over an "N+0" approach being touted by suppliers like Aurora Networks. (See Aurora Networks Plays the 'Green' Card and Costs Could Keep RFoG a Niche Player .)

"You'll see us move from N+1... into a fiber-to-the home architecture, hopefully using the PON architecture and RFoG overlay [with] an appropriate Ethernet underlay, as required, from now on," Atkinson says of Shaw's future greenfield strategy.

But Shaw still views RFoG as a transitional technology. "At some point, I think RFoG will give way to more IP or data-oriented transport schemes for all services."

Shaw likewise thinks an eventual migration of services to IP, which will take years, will alter its overall business in terms of how it delivers high-capacity Internet services, as well as voice and video.

"There's no doubt in our minds that IP-based set-tops are going to quickly outpace anything available in the more traditional, digital cable proprietary worlds," says Dennis Steiger, Shaw's group vice president of engineering. The move to IP "will make it possible to create a whole new customer experience down the road."

And Shaw believes that will help get it prepared to handle cable's transition from a broadcast medium to one that provides more and more unicast services. According to Shaw's forecast, unicast services (which include video-on-demand) will eat up about half of its plant capacity within 10 years.

But that transition won't happen overnight, so technologies like Docsis and RFoG will likely remain important factors for awhile. In fact, Shaw is already using Docsis 3.0 to deliver services that provide bursts of 100 Mbit/s. (See Shaw Maxing Out on 100-Meg.)

"But there will come a time when [those technologies] become less important as we [connect] our customers with fiber access," Steiger says.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:40:32 PM
re: Shaw Vetting FTTH for All New Builds

Awww how cute, Shaw is doing the same thing TELUS started doing over 3 years ago.

From The Founder
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Documentaries
The Business Case Challenge for NFV

10|7|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Virtual CPE is one of the early success stories for network functions virtualization, as service providers are finding flexible, programmable CPE solves a lot of logistics problems and reduces their cost. But even here, Masergy Communications faced a business case challenge, says CTO Tim Naramore.
LRTV Interviews
JT Offers Some Gigabit Lessons

10|7|15   |   4:08   |   (0) comments

Barna Kutvolgyi, managing director, Global Consumer, at JT, the incumbent operator on the island of Jersey, talks about how other service providers can learn from his company's gigabit broadband rollout experiences.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Network Security in a Gigabit World

10|6|15   |   05:52   |   (0) comments

Masergy's James Harrison talks about some of the network security and data center issues network operators need to consider as they expand their broadband services portfolios.
LRTV Documentaries
Telefónica: In Search of Virtual Simplicity

10|5|15   |   07:30   |   (0) comments

Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, head of Telefónica's NFV initiative, admits virtualization initially means greater complexity, but with the right abstraction layer, it is possible to create a services-driven network architecture. He explains how Telefónica's current trials and initiatives are aimed at doing that, and what his company and other carriers need to ...
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe Takeaways

10|5|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Participants from the inaugural Gigabit Europe event in Munich share their key takeaways from the conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Intel Urges Women to Take Advantage of Their Seat at the Table

10|5|15   |   4:27   |   (1) comment

Have inclusive and constructive conversations, attach a bigger meaning to your work and get involved in the cause, Intel's Monique Hayward advises women in comms.
LRTV Interviews
BT Updates on Plans

10|2|15   |   03:16   |   (2) comments

Peter Bell, CIO at Openreach, the access network division at UK incumbent BT, provides an update on the operator's trials and how Openreach is planning to deploy the broadband technology in its street cabinets.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Sonus Shakes Up SD-WAN

10|2|15   |   7:22   |   (0) comments

Sonus CTO Kevin Riley sat down with Light Reading to discuss the trajectory of the company, its SDN ambitions and why Sonus is taking a market-disruptive approve to SD-WAN.
LRTV Interviews
CityFibre's Gigabit Vision

10|1|15   |   03:18   |   (1) comment

Mark Collins, director of Strategy & Public Affairs at competitive UK city network operator CityFibre, talks about his company's plans to help build Gigabit Cities.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Automate, Scale & Create With Juniper's vCPE Solution

10|1|15   |   6:34   |   (0) comments

Join Kireeti Kompella, Juniper Networks CTO, and Steve Saunders, Light Reading Founder and CEO, as they discuss Juniper Networks' approach to NFV showcased with a turnkey vCPE solution, which demonstrates how service providers can use automation to rapidly deploy services.
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe: Day 1 Takeaways

9|29|15   |   05:47   |   (5) comments

Light Reading's Ray Le Maistre and Iain Morris sup a beer and discuss some of the key takeaways from the first day of Gigabit Europe 2015.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Communication service providers realize that an ICT transformation is critical to their long-term survival, but most haven't yet committed to making it happen.
Hot Topics
Verizon's Go90 Is Live – Will Anyone Watch?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/1/2015
Eurobites: Dunroamin'
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 10/2/2015
M&A Speculation Swirls Around Juniper
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/6/2015
Cisco's Chambers Rules Out Political Bid
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/6/2015
AlcaLu Execs Lose Out as Nokia Unveils New Top Team
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/7/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
Hold My Calls, Indefinitely Click Here