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ILECs' Missing Links

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
9/6/2002
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More than 59,000 central offices, wire centers, and points of presence in leading U.S. carrier networks are suitable launching pads for a variety of next-generation services. Too bad just a fraction of those resources are currently accessible to business customers.

According to a new report from Larribeau Associates, a San Francisco-based telecom consultancy, the majority of fiber facilities in U.S. incumbent local exchange carriers' networks, about 49,000 nodes, are designed to link carrier wire centers with subscriber sites. But fewer than 7 percent of office buildings in the incumbent network regions are actually hooked up to those access facilities.

What's more, no one's rushing to make the connection. "There is no sign that the rate of fiber deployment is increasing," writes Bob Larribeau, the firm's principal and author of the report, in an email today. Unless that happens, he estimates it will take more than 35 years for 80 percent of U.S. office buildings to be served by fiber.

Even worse, a large number of ILEC access facilities comprise direct, point-to-point connections that aren't on protected rings, which could stymie their use for business customers with Sonet ring redundancy in mind.

For business customers, what makes these figures even more frustrating is Larribeau's findings about the readiness of U.S. networks to run next-gen services. All of the ILEC fiber nodes in the U.S., 83 percent of which are in the access network and 17 percent in the core network, have the necessary fiber configurations to run one or more services based on next-generation Sonet, switched gigabit Ethernet, resilient packet ring, or passive optical networking (PON) architectures, he says. (For more on these technologies, see the following Light Reading reports: Resilient Packet Ring Technology, Metro Ethernet, Optical Access Startups: Roll Call, and Next-Gen Sonet ).

Note: Larribeau does not know to what extent network resources already are equipped with these services. Instead, the report details the opportunity represented by fiber facilities of leading ILECs, specifically those of BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), SBC Communications Inc., and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).

The report bases the estimated percentages of ILEC facilities capable of handling new services on how the networks are set up today. For example, PONs and next-generation Sonet networks can run over either rings or point-to-point connections, making them suitable architectures for close to 50 percent of ILEC facilities. (Of course, the bugaboo of redundancy rears its head, given that a large proportion of today's ILEC access networks aren't protected via rings, at least according to Larribeau's findings.)

In contrast, switched gigabit Ethernet services can run point-to-point or over rings, but they require that gear be installed in a wire center instead of a neighborhood connection point, which narrows their potential penetration to a little over half of today's ILEC fiber facilities.

Interestingly, Larribeau says today's access networks aren't set up to handle much RPR traffic. Just about 20 percent of them, he notes, have the necessary ring interconnections to support the topology.

Since core facilities represent a smaller percentage of ILEC networks overall, there is substantially less opportunity there for deployment of next-gen services, according to the report. But the relative potential for the different types of services is proportional to that of the access nets.

In general, Larribeau sees the U.S. network as a set of richly connected nodes in search of a market. Unfortunately, the carrier spending downturn has largely frozen that potential, at least for now.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com

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BobbyMax
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BobbyMax,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:48:42 PM
re: ILECs' Missing Links
ILECs simply cannot afford to lay fiber everywhere. Considering the sparse population of the United and very large metropolitan areas is simply not feasible.
joestudz
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joestudz,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:48:41 PM
re: ILECs' Missing Links
and that is why people invented Free Space Optics (FSO) for either point-to-point or mesh network applications.
dietaryfiber
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dietaryfiber,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:48:41 PM
re: ILECs' Missing Links
It actually doesn't make sense for them to lay fiber everywhere, except as a generic rehab of the copper plant.

Studies show things like less than 10% of businesses generate 80%+ of revenue traffic in a metro area. Why would a flower shop need a fiber connection?

dietary fiber
joestudz
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joestudz,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:48:40 PM
re: ILECs' Missing Links
Since they are not all in one place the only way to reach the 10% who generate 80% + of revenue is to lay fiber almost everywhere. To me it sounds like a mesh FSO system would be a better way to extend "virtually fiber" from the location of the portion of the 10% who can be easily reached with fiber to the rest of the 10%.
rjmcmahon
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rjmcmahon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:48:37 PM
re: ILECs' Missing Links
Why would a flower shop need a fiber connection?
______________

My local flower shop has classes on how to make arrangements. They had 50 people in class one saturday morning and a video production guy making tape for others to use.

Why should a flower shop owner not be allowed to unicast their videos into our homes and why should a broadcaster interests trump that of a gardner?

Let people choose for themselves if they want have an unlimited bw connection. Choosing for them is wrong.
rjmcmahon
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rjmcmahon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:48:37 PM
re: ILECs' Missing Links
ILECs simply cannot afford to lay fiber everywhere. Considering the sparse population of the United and very large metropolitan areas is simply not feasible.
_______________

Well this time you have about 10% right. "The ILECS can't" is true. The rest is false.

First we couldn't afford to free slave labor from picking cotton, but somehow we figured it out. Then we couldn't afford to deliver the mail to farmers, but Teddy Roosevelt said we could, and somehow we figured it out. Next we couldn't afford to build roads, but then somehow we figured that out. Also, we couldn't afford universal suffrage, then somehow we figured that out (well sorta).

I suggest what we can't afford is this self defeatist mindset. Everything else we can figure out.
big daddy
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big daddy,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:48:36 PM
re: ILECs' Missing Links
Bobby Max, you talk a lot of smack, but never give any data to back it up. When you make bold statements such as this, back it up or shut up.
dietaryfiber
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dietaryfiber,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:48:28 PM
re: ILECs' Missing Links

rj,

Then let them buy a T-1 or a T-3 line. Available today. Oops, they can't charge for their classes because they are available other ways for less cost.

You best get real, because what you want is never going to happen. There are already 1100 ILECs or did you not know that? They are called the IOCs (Independent Operating Companies) and are funded primarily through the Universal Service Tax on everybody's phone bill. The structure you ask for ALREADY EXISTS and does not do what you want because it makes no sense.

dietary fiber
Ringed?
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Ringed?,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:48:27 PM
re: ILECs' Missing Links
Lots of creative thinking already on this thread.

The U.S. Government has led our economy out of despair many times, always with infrastructure projects that help put people and companies to work.

While not a fan of big government I too would like to see Uncle Sam put money toward a last mile fiber infrastructure project. To say it isn't needed is absurd.

The ILEC's won't/can't and probably shouldn't shoulder the expense. The IOC community is laying a lot of fiber, both IOF and FTTH. Regardless of how you feel about certain technologies the IOC communities are betting on Video services wheather it is IP based or A-PON. Right or wrong this is going on now.

The IOC's benefit heavily from the Federal Government through REA/RUS funds, whereby they get very low intrest loans. I see no problem with this. No other ILEC or CLEC would dare try to go into these smallest markets and try to compete. Sure in bigger IOC markets this happens but no in the smallest IOC markets.

I would not have expected the response to "have the flower shop get a T1 or T3" from the poster. That tells me someone didn't think through the situation.

The ILEC's are killing themselves managing DS-1's as it is. And for a T3 you have to drop and OC-3 to the building and drop out a DS-3. Very equipment intensive at the CPE end and the C.O.

Granted that fiber over the last mile would not be easy or cheap. Just the notion of it brings up memories of companies like Fiber Works in Atlanta. These folks installed cable in the ground and paid for easment rights as they trenched so they would have fiber laterals in the ground to the biggest buildings in Tier 2/3 cities. The problem. How are you going to splice the lateral in to the ring you don't own? Moreover, who is going to let you splice the lateral into that ring.

But the future is bright as the ILEC's and CLEC's left standing (there are a few left) who look to GbE services that will need fiber to the building. ILEC's see the technical advantages over growing existing TDM frastructure.

The question is will our government help shoulder the cost to make this affordable to a carrier and eventually to the end user?

There will be a turning point in this Telcom Storm. That turning point will not be traditional TDM infrastuctures but a combo of Sonet and Ethernet services and of course the DWDM projects as required.

Look at Cable TV for an example. When cable came to my area in 1976 lots thought it stupid to pay $25 -$40 a month plus installation for TV when they could get it for free over the air. How many folks do you know now that don't have cable in a metro area?
beowulf888
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beowulf888,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 9:48:27 PM
re: ILECs' Missing Links
Dietaryfiber is correct. The cost of last-mile fiber to a business is beyond the economic capability of all except the upper percentile of corporations. And maybe I misunderstood his posting, but Dietaryfiber seems happy to accept the status quo.

But what if the government were to subsidize last-mile fiber? (And I'm not talking about expanding the UST -- which to my mind is just welfare for Telcos). Under a regimen of subsidies, costs would come down. And maybe then it would be economically feasible that that florist would be able to multicast its flower arranging class.

Government subsidy of infrastructure expansion has historically been a way to prime the pump for new economic activity. Unfortunately, I doubt if the chumps running the FCC are brave enough to rock boat of their big-business cronies. And ditto for elephantly dominated Congress and Executive branch.

cheers,
--Beo

dietaryfiber wrote:
"Then let them buy a T-1 or a T-3 line. Available today. Oops, they can't charge for their classes because they are available other ways for less cost.

"You best get real, because what you want is never going to happen. There are already 1100 ILECs or did you not know that? They are called the IOCs (Independent Operating Companies) and are funded primarily through the Universal Service Tax on everybody's phone bill. The structure you ask for ALREADY EXISTS and does not do what you want because it makes no sense."
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