Respondents to our latest poll think the RBOCs should cultivate their own gardens

June 20, 2003

2 Min Read
RBOCs Stay Home!

Light Reading’s latest research poll on RBOC Plans has turned up some noteworthy data.

Of the 50 respondents so far, an overwhelming number (82 percent) think the regional Bells should focus on their access networks versus spending the millions necessary to build out a data backbone. Going after interexchange carriers (IXCs) doesn’t seem to interest these respondents, nor does the idea that the RBOCs should be juicing up their copper plants.

”It’s encouraging, really, a true endorsement of the RBOCs' original mandate to serve their regional territories with better and better services,” says Scott Clavenna, research director at Light Reading.

He adds that to go after the IXCs, RBOCs would need to spend millions on core data gear, hire lots of expensive engineers to manage that gear, then go about the very complex task of interworking their existing ATM and Frame Relay services with this new IP/MPLS core network. This issue is discussed in detail in a report on Interworking on Light Reading.

Nearly two thirds of poll respondents (63 percent) believe the time has come for RBOCs to start large-scale deployment of fiber passive optical networks (PONs). This result is probably spurred on by recent news that three of the RBOCs, BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), are getting serious about fiber-to-the-premises and plan to issue RFPs (request for proposals) for PON deployments this month (see Fiber Access Plans Proliferate, RBOCs Hungry for Fiber).

As many as 61 percent of respondents think the RBOCs should start wide-scale deployments of Ethernet-based business service over fiber networks, while a third think they will have more success deploying these services over copper/DSL. But before heading down this path, carriers should watch out for provisioning and billing issues related to Ethernet-based services, as there's not much integration with legacy systems here yet (see Carriers Face Ethernet 'Black Hole').

Clavenna was surprised that close to half (47 percent) of our poll takers think the RBOCs will deploy video services over fiber. About 40 percent think video services will be deployed over copper/DSL, and the remaining 13 percent don’t think it’ll happen at all.

”The RBOCs made such a mess of video in 1992 through 1995 that I’m shocked anyone is willing to go through that again. Maybe there is collective amnesia, or perhaps the folks that responded favorably weren’t around in the industry then,” he says (see Video Over Déjà Vu).

That said, the RBOCs might not have much choice in the matter, given the fierce competition they face from “triple play” voice, video, and data services from the cable companies (see Telcos Tackle Triple Play ).

Take the poll here.

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Boardwatch

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