NCF/InfoVision 96 expands communications coverage

Feb. 1, 1997

NCF/InfoVision `96 expands communications coverage


Richard Green, president and chief executive of CableLabs in Louisville, CO, served as chairman of the National Communications Forum (NCF)/InfoVision `96 conference, recently held near Chicago. Sponsored by the International Engineering Consortium (IEC) in Chicago, the NCF show has traditionally fostered industry and academic partnerships. This year`s InfoVision `96 exhibit added another dimension to this relationship by expanding communications exhibits from tabletops to full-blown product booth displays, including more than 200 exhibits from approximately 85 companies.

More than 3300 people from leading research universities and communications organizations attended the three-day event. The show included numerous technical forums and communications sessions, in addition to presentations of three IEC Fellow Awards given to leaders who have illustrated sustained, superior quality service to the information industry. Award recipients are Robert W. Lucky of Bell Communications Research (Bellcore), William J. Weisz of Motorola, and Michael J. Birck of Tellabs Inc.

Lucky is corporate vice president of applied research at Bellcore and is best known for his invention of the adaptive equalizer--a technique for correcting distortion in telephone signals. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (ieee) and has written numerous articles on data communications. Weisz, a fellow of the ieee, is chairman of the board of Motorola. He is also a recipient of the National Electronics Conference Award of Merit.

Birck, president and chief executive of Tellabs, is also a past chairman of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). He received the Illinois High Tech Entrepreneur Award and was a keynote speaker for the InfoVision `96 opening luncheon. In his remarks, he cited an "entrepreneurial attitude" by both management and employees as key to his company`s objective to become a $2 billion organization by the year 2000. He claims that booming growth of small offices and work-at-home offices as extensions of the company workplace is critical to expansion of communications services.

"Most communications users want `bundled billing` for these services, and Internet use [which would be included in the bundled billing] is expected to grow at 30% over the next few years," Birck said. "From 1995 through 2000, the telecommunications market may become a $1 trillion market." He sees fiber optics as key to this expansive future growth but does not think fiber-to-the-home (ftth) is likely to happen.

The session on "Fundamentals of Broadband and Multimedia" included presentations by Rick Mann, regional marketing manager of visual communications and multimedia services for Lucent Technologies Inc. in Denver; Leif Hoglund, vice president of marketing, E/O Networks, Hayward, CA; Steve Susina, director of future applications, Tellabs Operations Inc. in Lisle, IL; and Philip Goetz, research and development for Lucent Technologies in Whippany, NJ.

Mann said that Lucent Technologies and US West are developing an integrated "future city" communications architecture at the site of the former Lowry Air Force Base in Denver. The facility has been reintegrated into the local community to make it a new center of education, employment and recreation. Mann reported that these integrated services will be provided to more than 3000 new homeowners at Lowry and to a business park supporting more than 8000 jobs.

Hoglund agreed with Tellabs` Birck that "fiber-to-the-home is not likely to happen in our lifetimes or in the lifetimes of our children or their children." "The small office, home office is driving the broadband/multimedia market," Hoglund said. "Internet access for business is also a critical growth factor."

Susina of Tellabs predicted a future service bill for home communications services to top $200 per month. This bill would include charges for local telephone service, a second telephone line, long distance, cable-TV, cellular and Internet access. Most customers prefer a bundled, one-stop shopping bill from a single provider.

Goetz of Lucent Technologies agreed with other speakers that ftth is happening in Japan but might not make it in the United States (see Lightwave, Dec. 1996, page 1). He observed that switched-digital video is becoming more affordable, but requires a major commitment to plant reconstruction. A hybrid fiber/coaxial-cable (HFC) network also requires a major plant overhaul.

In a session on "End-to-End Connectivity: The Foundation for Broadband Networks," Richard R. Masloski, vice president and general manager, Fiber Optic Division, ADC Telecommunications, Inc., Minnetonka, MN, said that the primary emphasis of most broadband network evolution strategies is on the transmission platform. However, the foundation for successful implementation of a winning architecture is the effective planning of fiber, copper, and coaxial-cable infrastructure.

Masloski also noted that infrastructure to support future customer needs must be able to support higher-bandwidth requirements, be flexible in handling multiple media, provide lifetime reliability, and be capable of two-way service.

During the same session, Ray Albers, vice president of technology planning for Bell Atlantic, observed that his company sees switched-digital video architecture as "more future-proof," but he did not completely rule out HFC for Bell Atlantic.

Untapped revenue sources

Fred Fouse, general manager of operations for Ameritech New Media Inc., discussed frustration with broadband loop media. He cited community relations issues concerning rights-of-way. Negotiation of rights-of-way and community passages have evolved into untapped revenue sources for many municipalities.

In a session on cable operations, Mike Noonan, president of Fiber Optic Network Solutions Corp. in Northborough, MA, said that his company teamed up with Time Warner to provide a beta platform for narrowcasting. The adaptable-transmission platform uses external modulation, where the carrier and signal are combined optically.

A session on the "Enlightened Loop: Economical Fiber in the Loop" included Jamie King, product manager, cable-TV, telecommunications systems group, at Pirelli Cable Corp.; and Greg Harris, specialist at BellSouth Telecommunications Inc.

King said that costs to deploy HFC networks are divided between 85% for cable and construction, and 15% for hardware electronics. He added that the benefits of 1550-nm technology include low attenuation and high-power optical amplifiers, making this technology suitable for long-distance, point-to-point transactions, headend consolidation, and trunk and supertrunk applications.

Harris reported that deployment strategies for economical fiber-in-the-loop include fiber-to-the-curb, buried plant, buried service wire, in trench with cable, minimized splices, cable on one side of the road, optimized optical network unit use, composite cable, and centralized power. q

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