Optical components

Corning Pipes Up on Last Mile

Despite the industry-wide meltdown, Corning Cable Systems (CCS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW), is suddenly bullish on companies and individuals launching large-scale rollouts of fiber in the last mile.

The company's marketing blitz is being met with skepticism, however. Analysts don't expect extensive last-mile deployments for years to come.

Adding on to the Evolant Solutions umbrella it announced at SuperComm in June (see Corning to Showcase Advanced Fibers), CCS announced its Evolant Solutions for Access Networks yesterday (see Corning Unveils Access Solutions). The company claims the new set of products, services, and support for last-mile fiber deployements will dramatically cut the cost of bringing fiber to the building and the home. The products will be on display at this year’s NFOEC.

"As the Internet continues to grow, traditional networks will have to be redesigned to facilitate that growth,” says Jim Cummins, CCS’s ILEC market manager for public networks, Americas. “We think [fiber in the last mile] is going to be the next step.”

But even if the solution set offers cheaper material and help for connecting the last mile with glass, some observers don't see less costly hardware and services as enough to spur demand. Frank Dzubeck, the president of Washington, D.C., consultancy Communications Network Architects, points out that especially now, the price of the fiber and equipment needed in the rollout is immaterial compared to the real money-guzzlers: labor and gaining access to dig up the ground to lay the fiber. “How can you get rid of the cost of labor? You can’t,” he says, adding that “the customers are not necessarily educated in deploying fiber to the last mile like copper.”

”I don’t care if they can come up with a way to decrease the fiber cost by 99 percent,” says Network Conceptions LLC analyst Phil Jacobsen. “You still have to dig up the ground and put in the fiber.”

"There are still some obstacles,” Cummins admits, but he insists that several of the Evolant solutions, like the Advanced Right-of-Way (AROW) products announced in June, also reduce labor costs and help avoid large right-of-way charges.

As for the hardware products announced yesterday -- the local convergence cabinet (LCC) and the fiber network interface (FNI) -- Cummins says they offer scaleability and flexibility. Unlike many products out there that were initially meant to carry copper, he says, both boxes are specifically made for fiber. The LCC is a box about six-feet tall that can support the interconnection of up to 192 lines of fiber. Because of its scaleable design, Cummins says, customers can add technology such as DWDM as the need occurs. “It’s a pay as you grow approach." The largest FNI box is 14 inches by 13 1/2 inches and is mounted on the side of a building. It can hold from one to 12 fibers.

The Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council claims that deployments of fiber to the home increased more than 200 percent between July 2001 and July 2002, but some observers say mass deployment is a long way off.

“To make money on fiber to the home, you need to do a massive deployment,” Dzubeck says. “That’s not going to happen for years… I just don’t see it.”

Geoff Wilbur, an analyst with KMI Corp. agrees. “Mass deployment of fiber to the home won’t happen until 05 or 06, and a prolonged recession would push that back,” he says. “I wouldn’t imagine they have a large department working on this. When the market comes around, it will come around slowly.”

CCS’s Cummins admits that it could take a while before we see such wide-scale deployments, but he has no doubt that they are coming. “There may not be mass-deployment today, but we think that this will be the path,” he says, insisting that the company already has customers for its solution. “As a responsible supplier with an eye on the future, supplying options is what we’re about.” CCS claims that it will connect more than 10,000 homes in 2002.

Jacobsen is not convinced. This kind of "build it and they will come" mentality belongs to another era, he says. “This is bubble mentality at a time when we don’t have any money… Certainly any VC that has money would be smart enough not to do this. We don’t even know how service providers are going to charge for services… and we don’t know what people would do with it if they had it. There’s just no business model that justifies this kind of spending.” CCS hasn’t put a pricetag on its new Evolant solutions for access networks, since it says the price will vary greatly depending on each customer's needs. Customers can, for instance, choose whether they require CCS training, support, services, or simply products, as well as how many different products they want to deploy. “It’s like building a car from the ground up,” Cummins says.

At the NFOEC, CCS will also be demonstrating its Access software that will allow customers to explore different deployment techniques, demonstrating the advantages and the prices of different solutions.

In a separate release today, CCS announced another addition to its Evolant solutions -- this time for high-speed metro networks (see Corning Unveils Multimode Fiber). These solutions will also be on display at this year’s NFOEC.

— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Light Reading
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rickaty 12/4/2012 | 9:49:21 PM
re: Corning Pipes Up on Last Mile Corning is still living in the heady days of the late 90s I see. The following statement from the Corning Guy regarding FTTH is a deja vu telecom bubble classic!

-"customers can add technology such as DWDM as the need occurs"

photonsu 12/4/2012 | 9:49:12 PM
re: Corning Pipes Up on Last Mile Mr. Rickaty,
Read the article. That comment refers to future upgrade should it be required. The solution they are proposing is available today represents a breathe of fresh air in terms of keeping ones feet firmly planted on the ground.
And to those that always bring up the trenching issue, I suggest we conduct a poll on this forum. Go outside and take a look at how your drop-cable get to your home. Most of the people I've spoke to find the cable runs inside a piece of PVC from the NID to the pole and or handhole. In my case it goes about 250 feet to a pole. No trenching necessary, just use the copper as a pull cord and hook me up to glass. In many of the handholes at the curb one finds multiple pieces of PVC terminated there, and those cable ends vanishing into another larger cable exiting out another piece of PVC. So far these scenarios seem to dominate the northern California landscape. In talking to builders it makes sense. The first thing that goes in is the electric service, alongside the electrical drop they lay in the PVC for the telephone guys to use when the home is completed.
I invite all readers to investigate and report how their service is delivered so we can put this issue to bed with real data rather than just blanket statements of unsubstantiated facts.
lighten up!! 12/4/2012 | 9:49:10 PM
re: Corning Pipes Up on Last Mile "And to those that always bring up the trenching issue, I suggest we conduct a poll on this forum. Go outside and take a look at how your drop-cable get to your home."

The fiber cost deterrent for FTTH deployment, is not the "drop cable" cost which is minimal for both aerial as well as for buried in the case of new construction, because they are fairly short runs. Instead, it is the total cost associated with fiber deployment whether it is directly from the CO to the premise, or CO to RT + RT to Premise. All in all this total run could be a few miles. Aerial plant is obviously cheaper to deploy than trenching, laying conduits, pulling fiber & splicing. However, most fiber deployment that I have seen is typically buried. Typical cost to run buried fiber in urban areas is in the order of $100K+/mile. The labor cost constitutes about 70% of the total cost if I am not mistaken. While price of fiber may keep coming down, labor keeps going up since there are no breakthrough technology "backhoe" for digging trenches. So while we may all want fiber in our diet, the cost is still prohibitive in many areas for wide scale deployment. Telcos don't even have wide scale deployment of DSL let alone fiber to the home. For now DSL will have to suffice until the industry can recover from the meltdown...
photonfred 12/4/2012 | 9:49:09 PM
re: Corning Pipes Up on Last Mile Problem is that most of the countries building codes do not require conduit carrying cable. Plus the TAPs amd cross connects that your 5-pair is coming off of is likely underground and not capable of passing fiber terminations.

Even is its a shared conduit passing 20 homes, its likely to have not enough diameter to carry all the fiber by the time it gets back to a DLC (which by the way is also not capable of terminating egress fiber paths.
photonfred 12/4/2012 | 9:49:09 PM
re: Corning Pipes Up on Last Mile The last mile light path of least resistence is clearly not in trenching fiber to the building or FTTH, but rather displacing the SONET OC-3 ring running from the Class 5 COT (Central Office Terminal) and remote DLCs with Ethernet ELTE devices and replacing DLCs with BLC which support DSL POTS, and packet voice.

Thereby preserve the fiber deployment and replace ATM on the ring with Gig Ethernet to speed up multi-service deployment on the last mile. This takes care of 74% of the DLC solutions in place today.

gilra1 12/4/2012 | 9:49:05 PM
re: Corning Pipes Up on Last Mile GǥI donGt care if they can come up with a way to decrease the fiber cost by 99 percent,Gǥ says Network Conceptions LLC analyst Phil Jacobsen. GǣYou still have to dig up the ground and put in the fiber.Gǥ

A large scale CAPEX study of the 50 most populated European cities points to a cost of civil works in a FTTH network of 50% of the total deployment costs. Fibre and connectivity share is around 20%. Maybe this 20% does not count in your Network Conception, but a right optical passive network design and material election is very much appreciated in mine!
Diogene 12/4/2012 | 9:49:04 PM
re: Corning Pipes Up on Last Mile ..but copper is already there.

Fiber is wonderful,
and it gives us a (quite interesting) job...

But, for now, the copper can deliver enough bandwidth for the next ten years.

First: think about what is the transmission bandwidth need...
Then: think about how to deliver it.

Not viceversa.
dietaryfiber 12/4/2012 | 9:48:59 PM
re: Corning Pipes Up on Last Mile
The problem with the construction in the US is that one of the benefits of FTTH/B is elimination of active electronics in the Outside Plant.

So, if replaces a 2000 Line DLC system (passing say 1400 homes) with FTTH, the Feeder cable would require 44 fibers. Today, typical Feeder cable has 6 - 12 fibers (oops).

This does not mean digging the local street to your home, but reworking the feeder plant. Distribution and Drop Plants have to be reworked as well, but is a separate issue.

dietary fiber
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 9:48:56 PM
re: Corning Pipes Up on Last Mile The problem with the construction in the US is that one of the benefits of FTTH/B is elimination of active electronics in the Outside Plant.

The problem is that it is unconstitutional for the RBOCs to regulate our nations commerce. That power belongs to the elected representatives who derive their power from the governed.

US Constitution, Article I, Section 8

"The Congress shall have power ...to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states."

Fortunately, the Good Roads movement understood these implications (where the same worn out arguements were being made against using public resources to fund the building our roads).

"In an 1893 decision, Justice David Brewer noted that 'the power to regulate commerce carries with it power over all the means and instrumentalities by which commerce is carried on' (Monongahela Navigation Company v. United States)."


PS. The RBOCs, Cable cos, and the FCC seem to believe our US Constitution does not apply to their actions. They are woefully mistaken.
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 9:48:55 PM
re: Corning Pipes Up on Last Mile ..but copper is already there.

With that belief system one will remain stuck in the mud.

PS. Macadam is to concrete as copper is to _____.


Concrete, not macadam, enabled our industrial society.
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