May 19, 2004 Keller, TX -- In a press conference held this morning, Verizon reaffirmed its commitment to passing 1 million homes with fiber by the end of this year. The Dallas-Fort Worth community of Keller, TX, is the first of several Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) rollouts that Verizon plans to undertake this year.
Making good on its earlier promise to begin FTTP deployments this year, Verizon expects to deliver service to the roughly 30,000 residents of Keller as early as this summer. "FTTP is real," asserts Paul Lacouture, president, Verizon Network Services Group. "It's happening here first, and it's happening now." The carrier has already placed equipment inside its local central switching office as well as on aerial cables and in underground conduit. According to Lacouture, Verizon has deployed 440,000 feet of fiber to date. Total investment should reach $15 million in Keller alone.
Verizon plans to complete several additional rollouts across parts of nine states in its effort to reach 1 million homes by the end of the year. Next year, that deployment rate will double, says Lacouture.
Verizon also announced three new broadband services that should appeal to a variety of users, from the most casual Internet surfer to the more bandwidth-intensive needs of small- and medium-sized businesses. Aimed at the average user, Verizon's first offering provides download speeds of 5-Mbits/sec downstream and 2-Mbits/sec upstream and supports limited Internet access and broadband voice service.
Its second offering will deliver 15 Mbits/sec downstream and 3 Mbits/sec upstream. "This is the most exciting product, and the one we think most of the customers will be looking for," notes Bob Ingalls, Verizon's president of retail marketing. A 15-Mbit/sec connection should be a significant upgrade over users' previous capabilities, whether by cable modem or DSL, he says.
While he will not divulge the exact price of the new services, Ingalls reports that prices for the 5- and 15-Mbit/sec services "are going to be very much in line with the market prices for 1.5-Mbit/sec DSL or cable modem services today."
Verizon will also provide download speeds of 30-Mbit/sec downstream and 5-Mbit/sec upstream for telecommuters and small businesses. All three services will be available to Keller residents this summer. "By next year," says Lacouture, "we'll have 100 Mbits/sec with the potential to go even higher should there be demand to do that."
For Ingalls, the real promise of FTTP is its ability to deliver services that have yet to be discovered. "Today, we really don't know what this speed is going to enable," he admits, "but I guarantee you that somewhere in this country, there are two teenagers in a garage inventing something we'll probably see on this network not too far in the future."
According to Verizon, the most important new application enabled by FTTP technology is the ability to network multiple devices within the home. Dubbed the Fiber Home Gateway, it "provides a user interface that will allow you to integrate these consumer products with the simplicity of a remote control," explains Ingalls. "Our expectation is that in 2005, you will see this integration of multiple products, and the electronic control will be [managed] through a remote control."
FTTP technology will also support a breadth of television programming that "exceeds what you can imagine today," muses Ingalls. Internet Protocol-based TV (IP-TV) will enable users to select from thousands of channels, allowing them to watch TV from Ireland, India--"wherever [they] choose," he says. Unlike other transport media, fiber can also support multiple channels of high-definition TV.
While it remains to be seen whether the carrier will meet its target of 1 million homes passed this year, the folks at Verizon are optimistic that today's announcement represents a critical step forward. "Verizon is committed to fiber and the services it makes available to our customers," asserts Steve Banta, president of Verizon's southwest region. "The time is ripe to offer fiber-based services."
Keller is the first community to benefit from a FTTP initiative launched by Verizon, BellSouth, and SBC, who adopted common technical standards and issued a joint request for proposal (RFP) for FTTP equipment last summer. In November, Verizon became the first of the trio to publicly award a contract--to Petaluma, CA-based AFC Communications.