Geeking Out Over Gigabit

I wrote my first article on fiber-to-the-home back in 1987, courtesy of the late Richard K. Snelling, BellSouth's fiber guru and a wonderful source of information. I saw the technology in action in 1988, delivering HDTV images between two Atlanta buildings as part of the Democratic National Convention. Over the next 18 years, I mostly saw FTTH in PowerPoint presentations and trade show demos until, in 2006, I got to ride along on a Verizon installation of its then-new FiOS network. Two years later, my younger sister's family got FiOS and I think I was more excited than she was.

Today, I get my chance. I am finally becoming a consumer of this technology, as one of the first in my neighborhood to get AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s GigaPower. As I write this, my husband and I are eagerly anticipating the arrival of our AT&T installation crew. I already know the technician's name -- Dave -- because I met him yesterday while walking my dog. He was in the alley behind my house, climbing the utility pole that serves me and my neighbor to the south, checking to make sure everything is ready for today's installation.

Want to read more about gigabit services? Come to our Gigabit Cities event in Atlanta May 13-14. here on Light Reading.

So am I getting a little bit excited? Nope, I'm totally geeking out. After years of seeing this technology evolve, I finally get my shot at using it. As importantly, I'm not just getting any old service via my FTTH, I'm getting GigaPower. Having convinced my husband that we need the very top tier service -- not sure for what just yet, other than my curiosity -- we are going for the gig.

Will I be writing about it? Damn straight. Stay tuned as Light Reading's old lady editor gets the fastest Internet service fiber can deliver today.

And the adventure begins.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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Duh! 5/13/2015 | 12:08:58 PM
Re: Why did it take so long? Yes and no. 

It is easier and cheaper per foot to attach a fiber cable to a pole with available space in the telecom region than it is to have to deal with complex make-ready, or worse, underground construction.  However, there are a lot more feet in a rural setting than an urban one, and fewer customers per foot.  So ft * ($/ft)/(customers/ft) = $/customer/ft isn't so attractive.

This is the singular conundrum of rural FTTx.
cnwedit 5/12/2015 | 10:19:12 PM
Even gigabit service runs afoul of LNP Our gigabit service is running great, but Comcast de-activated our phone number while AT&T was trying to do the LNP process.

So we are now dealing with phone support hell from Comcast - they keep hanging up on us -- trying to deal with retaining the number we've had since 1992. 

Really, Comcast? Is that how you get revenge on customers who leave?

Phil_Britt 5/12/2015 | 6:37:59 PM
Re: Very cool! The problem with ice storms is the weight. One in March of 1998 knocked out service in many Chicago areas for three days. Similar storm caused massive outages in Christmas of 1966 (I had received an electric race car that was unusable, which is why I remember). People in far south Lake County Indiana lost power for some three weeks during an ice storm in the late 1980s. These were just the large ones. No one can protect against these, the main issue is how quickly service can be restored.
cnwedit 5/12/2015 | 6:28:47 PM
Re: Very cool! Yikes, Phil, now you have me worried. I may have to find a way to "blanket" my fiber in warmth next winter. 

Does anyone know what the outage rates are for FiOS deployments that are aerial, due to winter storms? Seven?
Phil_Britt 5/12/2015 | 5:45:21 PM
Re: Very cool! The utility poles are great for distribution -- until there is a storm. and as a fellow Chicagoan (suburbs), I see the same storms you do. The worst ones for the lines are actually the winter ice storms. So it will be interesting how quickly lines will be fixed when they inevitably go out from "an act of God."
brooks7 5/11/2015 | 7:09:33 PM
Re: Very cool! I am aware of that service, I have seen it on the history channel.  I worked with SDV when we were doing Bonded DS0s over PRI ISDN back about 25 years ago.  That worked but required T-1s and the quality was mediocre.  About 15 years ago, we started doing SDV over DSL (where NLC was doing it over ATM we were doing it over IP).

But being switched has a huge disadvantage unless you have a multicast tree for the equivalent of TV distribution.  For Unicast, it is great and how systems like U-verse are implemented.


Keene 5/11/2015 | 4:42:46 PM
Re: Very cool! Telco was only providing POTS to the public but internally they were experimenting with switched video!  Back in 1964 the Bell System had a working picturephone system at the NY Worlds Fair.

On a time line, long before cable could provide circuit switched video, telcos had the ability to add it to their circuit switched plants since they had the basic infrastructure in place, unlike cable,  Since they did not have the last mile to deliver such a service to the home, it was never developed.
brooks7 5/11/2015 | 4:21:08 PM
Re: Very cool! So, you mean when telco only did POTS?


Keene 5/11/2015 | 4:11:36 PM
Re: Very cool! Now they can do switched video.  Back when cable operators provided only analog TV & Radio via RF carriers, no.
Keene 5/11/2015 | 4:09:02 PM
Re: Why did it take so long? I'd love to put fiber into my workplace in Keene NH.  But just the build-out to Fast Roads that WiValley can provide will run me around $5k by pole count.  The amortization even taken over 5 years makes it an expensive proposition.  So for now I'll continue to enjoy GigE at home down my dirt road.  BTW, my fiber was only lit up late last autumn, better late than never!

Like Rindge, it is weird that its far easier to provide FTTH in very rural locations than in town or in big cities!
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