THE LIGHTWAVE BLOG

The Lightwave editorial staff uses The Lightwave Blog to share their thoughts on optical communications and whatever else might be the current topic of conversation from cubicle to cubicle. Feel free to add your own opinions. If you'd like to become a guest blogger, contact Editorial Director Stephen Hardy at stephenh@pennwell.com

Archive for 'April 2008'

    Qwest aims at UTOPIA, iProvo

    April 28, 2008 11:02 AM by Stephen Hardy
    Posted by Stephen Hardy

    When I put together our article on Qwest's new FTTN roll out , we took up their PR firm's offer to field some questions I had regarding how they plan to provide the services and where. I didn't receive answers until after I had posted the story and included it in our e-newsletter that day. But thinking that late is indeed better than never, here they are.

    The most interesting tidbit, given the recent troubles that the UTOPIA and iProvo FTTH initiatives are having, is that Provo and Salt Lake City are two of the markets in which Qwest's Connect Quantum and Connect Titanium will appear first. (No, Salt Lake City isn't part of the UTOPIA project -- but several of the munis involved in the project surround the city.) You don't need to be Sun Tzu to know that there's nothing like attacking a adversary at a moment of extreme weakness.

    Here's a list of the 23 markets where Qwest will roll out the FTTH-enabled services first:

    • Arizona: Phoenix, Tucson
    • Colorado: Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins
    • Idaho: Boise
    • Iowa: Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids
    • Minnesota: Minneapolis/St. Paul
    • Nebraska: Omaha
    • New Mexico: Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces
    • Oregon: Portland, Salem, Bend, Eugene
    • Utah: Salt Lake City, Provo, St. George
    • Washington: Seattle, Vancouver


    As mentioned in the article, Connect Quantum will offer download speeds of up to 20 Mbits/sec and Connect Titanium up to 12 Mbits/sec. Qwest now tells me that the upload speed for both is 896 kbits/sec. "We are continually looking at new technology that will expand both download and upload connection speeds, including options such as pair bonding and VDSL2," according to the Qwest source who provided the information. (His/her identity was not revealed.)

    In response to a question about future video services over the FTTN network, the Qwest source cited the carrier's existing relationship with DirecTV. The source added that DirecTV has announced plans to add video on demand later this year, "so that will be an exciting video product for our customers and it's a complement to these faster speeds."

    Finally, when it comes to technology suppliers, the source said, "We working with a variety of vendor partners, including Motorola, for our fiber-to-the-neighborhood roll out."

    France champions fiber-to-the-apartment

    April 24, 2008 4:06 PM by Meghan Fuller Hanna
    Posted by Meghan Fuller Hanna

    In the last issue of Lightwave Europe , European editor Kurt Ruderman noted that in less than two years, France has become Europe's most competitive FTTH market. (Click here for that story.)

    It may have taken another step forward today.

    The International Herald Tribune is reporting that the French government plans to require all new apartment buildings with more than 25 units to be outfitted with fiber by 2010. The cost of installing fiber would be included in the sale price of the apartment. (See "France to require apartments to come wired." )

    "The government's goal is to give very fast broadband a push in the back," government spokesman Luc Chatel was quoted as saying. "There's an obstacle to access, which is the entrance to the building."

    The proposed law, to be voted on by Parliament this summer, would allow all network operators access to the buildings. Those operators would then decide among themselves whether and how to share local neighborhood switching nodes, says the article. And for issues that go beyond building access, the government would defer to the judgment of France's telecommunications regulator, ARCEP.

    There is no shortage of competition in France today, particularly around Paris. France Telecom--the first European incumbent to commit to FTTH--and alternative providers like Free and Neuf Cegetel, plus cable TV provider Numericable, are deploying fiber at a rapid clip. Each of their targeted homes passed numbers in the millions. And all have pursued these plans aggressively despite regulatory uncertainty in areas like vertical deployment and building access. It will be interesting to watch what happens once these regulations are in place.

    A guest blog

    April 15, 2008 5:29 PM by Frank Coluccio

    Editor's Note: One of our visitors asked to start a new thread. Here it is.

    Upon my first reading the heading, "A first step toward sanity," I'd have bet money that you were referring to Oki's breakthrough in the ultra long haul space, by achieving, reportedly, up to 160 Gbps at the present time over thousands of km's, thus appearing to find a pathway to breaking the back of PMD's stultifying effects on the upper bounds of throughput over ULH distances: http://tinyurl.com/4beawp.

    Until now, the industry seems to have almost surrendered to the idea that parallel optics (i.e., using various methods of effecting "inverse multiplexing" over multiple wavelengths) is the only approach to achieving speeds greater than 10G over extended distances, and in many cases even 10G, never mind 100G, 160G, or beyond.

    As recently as last month I read an account that covered this topic in Lightwave by an author who stated that PMD has little effect on singlemode fiber these days. (See the article here.) Of course, many manufacturers of "newer" single mode are affected less than most variants of "older" single mode due to recent improvements in manufacture, but PMD at some point (as symbol rates are raised sufficiently high) is an anomalous characteristic that affects all types of fiber, through both static and dynamic manifestations.

    It occurs to me that many authors who make these assertions either have products to sell that use parallel optics, or they have come to a foregone conclusion for other reasons that symbol rates will remain at 10 Gigabaud or below indefinitely, or so it seems, while employing various forms of analog (duo-binary, quadrature-based, etc.) modulation techniques, hence making it easy to suggest that higher speeds can indeed be achieved in the presence of PMD.

    While this may be true, at what cost is this occurring in terms of the number of wavelengths that must be used in support of ever-higher throughput rates? And at what cost is it occurring in terms of forfeiting optical-level compatibility between a growing number of dissimilar analog modulation schemes as they begin to converge in large numbers and require handing off to one another at optical network nodes? Thoughts?

    Frank A. Coluccio, DTI Consulting Inc.
    frank@fttx.org

    A first step toward sanity?

    April 3, 2008 10:56 AM by Stephen Hardy
    Posted by Stephen Hardy

    As we reported yesterday , Tellabs has decided to walk away from Verizon's GPON program. As the story indicates, the company isn't providing many details about its thinking, other than "we did not find the deal economical."

    However, I have to give Tellabs credit for having the sense to walk away from a high-profile program when the numbers just didn't add up. Yeah, sticking around would mean the company could still say it was a part of the country's biggest FTTH deployment. But being the #3 supplier for a GPON rollout that's still in its nascent stages couldn't have offered much hope of return on R&D investment. The situation reminds me of those stories you hear about titled families in Europe living almost like paupers in the ancestral castle; at some point, the sacrifices necessary to keep up appearances become irrational.

    In an industry that is known for wrapping products in dollars just to keep them moving out the door, Tellabs' ability to say, "Enough!" provides an example that others ought to ponder.

    Of course, the smartest move is to avoid getting involved in programs like this in the first place. But, hey, one step at a time.

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Stephen Hardy

Stephen has covered fiber optics for more than a dozen years, and communications and technology for more than 25 years. He is responsible for establishing and executing Lightwave's editorial strategy across its digital magazine, website, newsletters, research and other information products. He has won multiple awards for his writing.

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