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RBOCs Hungry for Fiber

Light Reading
Supercomm News Analysis
Light Reading
5/29/2003
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Three of the top U.S. carriers say they're serious about fiber to the premises (FTTP) and plan to issue big new RFPs for equipment deployments in "2004 and beyond."

Late this afternoon, BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) issued a press release saying they've decided on a "set of common technical requirements" for extending FTTP and have put appropriate manufacturers on notice that they'll be issuing an RFP for gear very soon (see RBOCs Agree on Access Specs).

Shawn Dainas of SBC confirms that the technologies the group is seeking are based on PON (passive optical networking) standards, such as the G.983 specs from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the GR-909 standards from Telcordia Technologies Inc.

Interestingly, Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) wasn't part of today's announcement. "We did know about the fiber-to-the-home project and were approached to join, but after conducting our own internal analysis we decided it didn't meet our own success threshold," says a spokeswoman. Qwest won't rule out joining in the future, she says.

Notwithstanding, PON vendors are in high spirits from the news, which apparently has been anticipated for months. Most expect the RFP to be issued within a couple of weeks.

"This is very, very good news for the industry," says Darryl Ponder, CEO of Optical Solutions Inc., which by most accounts leads in PON market share. He says carriers realize it doesn't make economic sense to install copper cable if data, voice, and video are on the cards for future services.

Others agree. "We're excited about it," says Tom Tighe, CEO of Wave7 Optics Inc. He says the carriers had surveyed manufacturers industrywide in April, and vendors have been eagerly anticipating the announcement ever since.

At least one analyst thinks it's significant. "Sources suggest the RBOCs are collectively looking to deploy between 500,000 and 1 million lines per year beginning as early as 2004, if the price is right," writes Steven Levy of Lehman Brothers in a note this morning. He says current prices of $1,200 to $1,800 per line will probably go down to $700 or so once the RFP action begins.

But Levy's cautious about getting investors too hyped. He says PON rollouts will likely mimic the slow uptake of DSL. Further, he says it would be misguided to think the RFP signals any uptick in carrier capital spending.

Levy says one possible outcome could be M&A, however, as large companies that have pulled away from PON hasten to get with the small players that have persisted in the market despite the negatives.

Indeed, Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) stands relatively alone among large companies that have stood by PON. Others, including Marconi Corp. plc (Nasdaq/London: MONI) and NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY), put their efforts on ice indefinitely.

Some expect next week's Supercomm 2003 to be a convenient venue for PON partnerships. "I'm certain partnering will happen," says Jeff Gwynne, VP of marketing and a founder at Quantum Bridge Communications Inc. He says a crucial juncture has been reached, as the cost has dropped and carriers finally see a chance for revenue-producing services via PON. "Everything's coming together," he says.

Wave7's Tighe agrees that partnerships are in the offing. Indeed, Wave7's been working on deals with larger companies for months particularly in Asia (see Pining for PON). Regarding next week's show in Atlanta, "It'll be fun," he says.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

For extensive and up-to-date coverage of next week's Supercomm tradeshow, visit Light Reading's Supercomm Preview Site.

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metroshark
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metroshark,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:59:30 PM
re: RBOCs Hungry for Fiber
Can't believe that RBOCs got together and decided to deploy an already obsolete technology. The rest of the world seems to be converging on 100Base-BX for FTTH/FTTB applications.
rjmcmahon
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rjmcmahon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:59:29 PM
re: RBOCs Hungry for Fiber
As much as I dislike and distrust the RBOCs, their validation of the fiber demand is good for our industry. Too bad most will have to wait until 2004 and beyond to see if they are just blowing more smoke up our collective asses.

In the meantime, the numbers are looking better for the independents who can do the job at a much cheaper cost and using much better technology. In other words, just say no to PON and to RBOC expense structures.
Jet
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Jet,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:59:28 PM
re: RBOCs Hungry for Fiber
The best technology doesn't always win, and its wi-fi (despite its imperfections) not fiber to the home that can win on a cost/benefit basis the battle for consumer ultra-high speed net connectivity
rjmcmahon
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rjmcmahon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:59:26 PM
re: RBOCs Hungry for Fiber
The best technology doesn't always win, and its wi-fi (despite its imperfections) not fiber to the home that can win on a cost/benefit basis the battle for consumer ultra-high speed net connectivity.

Wi-fi isn't ultra-high speed. It's just another fraudband technology. It's mostly being used to create Wall Street hype and justify the jobs of too many lazy people. And it doesn't work very well when the microwave is popping corn or heating up a cup of coffee. Wi-fi could work for Windoze 3.1 users -- though those MSFT licensing fees will make the FCC auctions (for some real spectrum) look affordable.

Starting with something that supports at least 1 Gb/s, full duplex, per premise seems like the bare minimum for anybody serious about deploying a real public infrastructure.
dljvjbsl
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dljvjbsl,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:59:24 PM
re: RBOCs Hungry for Fiber
Extending my argument


People want to have strucdtured and personalized connectivity with their friends and acquaintances. This requires intelligence at the end points and especially not high bandwidth connections.


And of course WiFi is ideal for this.
dljvjbsl
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dljvjbsl,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:59:24 PM
re: RBOCs Hungry for Fiber

Starting with something that supports at least 1 Gb/s, full duplex, per premise seems like the bare minimum for anybody serious about deploying a real public infrastructure.


What would the 1Gb/s be used for? It is hard to think of applicaions that would require such speed.

My own impression is that what is required is not high bandwidth but high connectivity. The killer applicaion of the Internet has turned out not to be commerce but community. People want to have strucdtured and personalized connectivity with their friends and acquaintances. This requires intelligence at the end points and especially not high bandwidth connections.
Jet
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Jet,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:59:23 PM
re: RBOCs Hungry for Fiber
Now if you actually believe fiber offers a practical/wide-scale/cost effective solution at those speeds - then you have just made the case for the need for massive bandwidth in the wide pipes, ie Corvis, among others. Once typical homes get that kind of connectivity and speed, the need for bandwidth would be never ending

I tend to see (less speedy but still fast) Wi Fi as the near term 3 to 5 year most probable solution to the consumer "last mile" bottleneck. Now recently "fraudband" Wi Fi is being hyped but that is precisely due to its very success w/o much hype the last few yrs. Wi Fi has been a ground-up revolution not something manufactured by venture caps at cocktail parties.

Keeping in mind what Thomas J. Watson, chair of IBM, said in 1943: "I think there is a world market for about five computers." I will concede that at some point 1 Gb/s home service might be commonplace, again supporting the case for Dr Huber's all optical approache.














spegru
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spegru,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:59:22 PM
re: RBOCs Hungry for Fiber
strucdtured and personalized connectivity with their friends and acquaintances. ....

And of course WiFi is ideal for this.


I think you'll find that that if you want ubiquity of connectivity it'll be GSM & 3G. Text and Picture messaging has already done this. GSM is growing in the US too.

WiFi? well it's ok in the office I suppose.

What that says for the fibre requirement I'm not sure... surely DSL and cable have that last mile sewn up??
opca2004
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opca2004,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:59:22 PM
re: RBOCs Hungry for Fiber
I guess they are very serious to think about using one line to carry everything. Like, no cable needed, if fiber to home. Then, only RBOCs, no cable companies. Now, cable company are in local phone market.
Accelerated  Photon
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Accelerated Photon,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:59:21 PM
re: RBOCs Hungry for Fiber
... surely DSL and cable have that last mile sewn up??

Surely this is backwards thinking, the truest broadband connection to the home is FTTH. PON is the best technology available today that make economic sense for the RBOC to deploy to compete with the cable companies and provide service where the limitations of DSL prohibit its deployment.
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