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Bells Bullish on FCC Fiber Decision

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled today that incumbent telephone companies will not be required to share fiber-optic networks built within 500 feet of a customer's home with competitors. The decision is a victory for the Baby Bells, which have aggressively lobbied the FCC for such guarantees. Otherwise, they claimed, there would be no incentive to spend billions adding fiber to their networks to better compete with cable companies. Following the ruling, SBC Communications, the largest U.S. telco said it would accelerate its fiber construction plans to reach 18 million homes with enhanced broadband access within three years, rather than five. "The shovel is in the ground, and we are ready to go," said SBC Chairman and CEO Edward E. Whitacre Jr. Through its Project Lightspeed, SBC says it will spend up to $6 billion to upgrade its residential network to support video, in addition to voice and data. In new-build situations, SBC will deploy fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology. On its legacy network, SBC says it will install a fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) architecture. With this approach, each fiber node will serve 300 to 500 homes. From there, DSL technology will provide capacity for up to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream over copper, enough to deliver high-definition TV programming to multiple TV sets in the home over IP, plus VoIP and high-speed data services. SBC says it is currently testing an IP-based switched television service based on the Microsoft TV IPTV platform.
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