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SBC's Beck Is Big on Broadband

DALLAS -- NFOEC -- All might look bleak in the telecom industry right now, but better times are on their way, according to the vice president of network engineering at SBC Communications Inc., Gregory Beck, who spoke at the NFOEC plenary session this morning.

“While there still is a black cloud hanging over the industry right now… the industry fundamentals should show us that there is blue sky ahead,” he said.

Had it not been for the ghost-town feeling pervading the Dallas conference center today, Beck’s cheery pep-talk might have seemed refreshing. Faced with the almost deserted halls and the long line of exhibitors that had pulled out at the last moment, however, the talk, titled “The future of broadband – the light years ahead,” took on more of a utopian ring.

Beck insisted, however, that there’s reason to be optimistic. In January this year, for the first time, broadband usage outpaced narrowband usage, he said, demonstrating that broadband is moving beyond the early adoption stage. In January 2002, broadband users spent 1.19 billion hours online, up from 727 million hours in January 2001, according to Beck.

And that number is going to keep on rising, he said, since people who discover the benefits of broadband inevitably get hooked. “When you start to use DSL, you start to think differently.”

Thinking differently indeed. In his presentation, Beck pointed to a survey of what people would be willing to give up in order to keep their broadband connection -- and might have had some folk wondering whether he was confusing DSL with LSD. According to the survey, not only would 78 percent of Internet users rather surrender their daily newspaper than live without broadband, but 63 percent of respondents actually said they would prefer giving up their morning cup of coffee to losing their high-speed Internet connection.

SBC recently announced a new tiered DSL service that would lure customers into broadband addiction with low prices for lower speeds (see SBC 'Personalizes' DSL). Once the customer is hooked, they can easily (at a higher price, of course) move up the ladder to higher speeds and thus more and more possible services. The sweet-spot for broadband, according to Beck, is at 1.5 Mbit/s.

“As broadband technology expands,” he said, “we need a technology that can deliver more bandwidth.”

Ultimately, that technology will have to be built on fiber to reach the performance levels consumers of the future will crave. “We have to start preparing for the next stage of the Internet,” he said, insisting that future services will be bandwidth hogs and that customers will consume them hungrily. “Nothing compares to fiber.”

Despite the overall positive tone of his presentation, Beck let it slip that the road to complete broadband deployment still has a few major bumps in it. To begin with, consumers still need to be convinced that they need all the bandwidth intensive services carriers are ready to offer. A more serious problem, however, is that government regulations are dissuading service providers from investing in large-scale deployment of broadband technology. The 1996 Telecommunications Act requires regional Bells to allow competitive carriers to lease lines on their networks at wholesale prices (see RBOCs Should Stop Whining, Says Report). “Fiber is a whole lot harder than copper to unbundle,” he said, bitterly. “We need to eliminate regulations.”

Regardless of the problems facing broadband deployment and the telecom industry as a whole, Beck said he is confident that the future of high-speed Internet connections is a bright one. “The number of Internet hosts are growing at a formidable rate... The Internet is no longer a luxury, but has become a necessity.”

— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com
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lastmile 12/4/2012 | 9:46:01 PM
re: SBC's Beck Is Big on Broadband Has anybody noticed that the word fiber keeps creeping in whenever the word broadband is mentioned?
Growth of bandwidth usage has been increasing exponentially. How long will the current infracture keep up with the growing demand?
Ask NY Times and they will say that the glut is sufficient to keep a internet user happy for another 20 years.
SBC's Beck is Big on Broadband. Is anyone convinced that he is not big on fiber?
When will this Fraudband give way to Broadband?

cruzexpo 12/4/2012 | 9:46:01 PM
re: SBC's Beck Is Big on Broadband "Confusing DSL with LSD," as your very charming (and honest) article reports, is wonderfully metaphoric for why the broadband bandwagon has not materialized ubiquitous by now, as was so emphatically predicted in the deep pocket days of the New Economy, whose functionaries chose to block out that the Internet delivery system and entertainment were a long way from convergence(and still are).

Notwithstanding, broadband is essential to business today, and has proven its return on investment many times over. We will have to wait, and in my opinion a long time, for the legacy entertainment monoliths to take the new media plunge, and why should they given the current delivery mechanisms serve most abundantly well?
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 9:45:58 PM
re: SBC's Beck Is Big on Broadband SBC's Beck is Big on Broadband. Is anyone convinced that he is not big on fiber?
______________

The following quote from the article reveals SBCs desires which are to prevent competition and maintain their monopoly control while eliminating all regulations which protect consumers interests.

GǣFiber is a whole lot harder than copper to unbundle,Gǥ he said, bitterly. GǣWe need to eliminate regulations.Gǥ
thenight62 12/4/2012 | 9:45:56 PM
re: SBC's Beck Is Big on Broadband Have you heard of Narad Networks? Probably one of the more interesting copper solutions out there for copper...
malakraday1 12/4/2012 | 9:45:55 PM
re: SBC's Beck Is Big on Broadband Responding to this person from SBC with the fiber glut argument is an incomplete argument at best. When people talk about the fiber glut they usually over generalize. The fiber glut exists but only in the long haul market. There is no fiber glut in the metro, regional and local sections of the network. I know this all too well because I can't get 2 way cable modem access to my apartment because the fiber is too far away. The fact is that there is still a big bottle neck when data comes off of a long section of fiber into the metro area.

I used to live in a place where I could get cable modem or DSL. At that time I couldn't get DSL according to Verizon because I had fiber in a loop test back to the main office. Explain that one! So I got cable with what was then ATT broadband. The service was good but 500 k was still too slow to play full screen video. So I agree with the gentlemen from SBC when he says 1.5 Mbps is the sweet spot. I want that but I only want that when the content will be there to see.

My perception of the situation is like this...the network we have is over capacity in one area but in other areas under capacity. Therefore the network is not performing as it should even with the fiber glut. Next gen services can't be delivered over the current network so there will have to be an upgrade which means more fiber will be put in the ground.
optical Mike 12/4/2012 | 9:45:51 PM
re: SBC's Beck Is Big on Broadband I am convinced he is big on fiber a I also believe SBC will be the first RBOC to deploy fiber to the home on a large scale in the next 12 to 24 months
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 9:45:50 PM
re: SBC's Beck Is Big on Broadband I am convinced he is big on fiber a I also believe SBC will be the first RBOC to deploy fiber to the home on a large scale in the next 12 to 24 months
______________

What has convinced you of this?
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 9:45:49 PM
re: SBC's Beck Is Big on Broadband So I agree with the gentlemen from SBC when he says 1.5 Mbps is the sweet spot.
______________

If you agree with this, then try the following experiment.

A) Go buy an old 1X CDROM
B) Copy only Microsoft products onto a CD
C) Remove your harddisk and all PCI cards
D) Insert the monopoly controlled CD
E) Use that computer for the rest of your life

An asymetric 1.5Mbs from a monopoly phone
company will enable less productivity and less entertainment than the above. There will be no sweet spots for our industry if we fall for that propaganda.
malakraday1 12/4/2012 | 9:45:47 PM
re: SBC's Beck Is Big on Broadband Wow...you really didn't understand my message. I never said I supported their monopoly I only said that I supported his statement that 1.5 Mbps per subscriber would be a good data rate to support new services where subscribers should start to be interested in services. I'd much rather that 1.5 Mbps be delivered by anyone else but the RBOC's because they don't know what they are doing.

The main point I was making is that the fiber glut is often mischaracterized.

I happen to think the 1996 telecom act still has merit but will never be enforced by this administration. I think the telecom infrastructure could be owned by the government like the road system or the old railroads. This way we may be able to invest in the right parts of the network at the right time instead of what the monopolies have done to the system. That way any company could use the infrastructure for any type of data from video to voice to whatever just like any company can drive a truck over the highway system to deliver goods from one state to the next. Of course it would have to be payed for via taxes which won't go down well.
joestudz 12/4/2012 | 9:45:44 PM
re: SBC's Beck Is Big on Broadband While we wait for fiber here is an interesting pdf. To quote from page 1 of 2, "This solution provides a full duplex 10 Mb/s Ethernet link over standard telephone lines for distances up to 1500 meters".
http://www.opticalaccess.com/d...
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