TCI contracts for fiber-to-the-curb application

Nov. 1, 1998

TCI contracts for fiber-to-the-curb application


The evolution of broadband services in residential and business applications is quickly being realized as customers demand full-featured services via cost-effective solutions. TCI Telecommunications Inc., the cable-television operating unit of Tele-Communications Inc. (Englewood, CO), awarded reltec Corp. (Cleveland, OH) a multimillion-dollar campus residential fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) project at The Village in Dallas, TX. The Village is a multi-dwelling development comprised of 7280 units, each slated to receive integrated voice, video, and high-speed data services through reltec`s DISC*S access delivery platform.

TCI intends to string fiber-optic cable to each of the multiple buildings within the complex, providing the end user with access to multiple existing and future high-bandwidth services.

"TCI will place our optical networking unit [ONU] on the side of each building," says Mark Cannata, vice president of marketing for reltec`s Access Systems Division. "Traditional voice, video, and Ethernet services will be transported back over the optical payload, a single fiber-optic cable that feeds each ONU."

From the ONUs, all three services will be transported to the host digital terminal (HDT), the central distribution point for all the fibers feeding the ONUs, located on the premises of The Village complex. At the HDT, data traffic is split into a high-speed data network, broadcast signals are split into a fiber-optic distribution network, and traditional voice traffic is trunked back to the digital switch.

reltec`s strategy of deep fiber solutions is designed to push fiber-optic capability closer to the subscriber. According to reltec, the deep fiber solution delivers broadband fiber-optic access at or below the costs of traditional narrowband systems in high-density environments.

"When we say `deep fiber,` we define it as getting fiber within 500 ft of the end user," says Cannata. "That enables service providers like BellSouth, Sprint, TCI, and others to get this enormous bandwidth pipe of fiber-optic cable within a few hundred feet of the services it`s going to provide the customer."

Doing that, says Cannata, also enables the service providers to transition their network to whatever services may come in the future. This capability eliminates the need to modulate the signal to deliver very high bandwidth to the home through existing copper infrastructures. The big question now appears to be that if you get within 500 ft of the home, why not take fiber all the way to the desktop?

"Our argument there is that if you get fiber-optic cable within a few hundred feet," says Cannata, "you`ll be able to deliver symmetrical bandwidth in the quantity that we used to believe could only be achieved by a fiber-to-the-home solution. But, in reality, all you have to do is get the fiber within that 500 ft to deliver 155-Mbit/sec service into the home over already-existing copper. So there`s no need to take fiber all the way into the home, at least in the residential environment, if you can get within 500 ft."

Citing economics as a major drawback to FTTC technology, the idea of pushing fiber closer to the home, particularly in residential areas, is not necessarily a vision shared by everyone in the industry. But reltec seems undaunted in its quest to push the deep-fiber philosophy.

"We have competitors who want to move the ONU further back into the network in order to spread the cost of the deployed electronics across more homes," says Cannata. "We believe that`s the wrong way to take the fiber. You need to get it as close to the end user as possible to enable smoother present and future transitions to very high bandwidth requirements."

reltec was also recently selected by Sprint Corp. (Kansas City, MO) to supply FTTC products to the Sprint Local Telecommunications Division network. By the end of this year, reltec expects to have approximately one million lines of FTTC capacity in commercial deployment. q

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