Fibers future and the FCC

Feb. 1, 1999

Fiber`s future and the FCC

Readers respond to December`s Regulation & Policy: "FCC kisses fiber goodbye"

I don`t get it. Singlemode fiber is eventually going to go from an all-optical network straight to everyone`s houses. In the meantime, there`ll be electronics involved. But the sooner you install the fiber, the sooner it starts paying itself back, and the more likely you are to have a lock on those customers. And you know who`s going to do it? The power companies, because they don`t have an existing communications infrastructure and they can immediately switch to time-adjusted metering. That was supposed to happen with ISDN`s D channel, but the baby Bells are STILL playing with themselves.

Fiber is only "too expensive" if property rights are insecure. If the FCC wants to help, it`ll announce, "We shall not take private property for public use without just compensation." If Congress wants to help, it`ll keep taxes and inflation low. And one of these days a president is going to discover that he can veto everything economic, let markets do their job, and get away with taking the credit for the results.

Russ Nelson, President Crynwr Software, Potsdam, NY

As one that has been in the fiber-optic industry for 25-plus years, it is nice to hear someone else raise his voice about the negative spin being propagated about fiber. But the fiber community must accept partial blame for this situation on at least three counts.

Every year the fiber community seems to raise the bar in terms of the promise fiber holds in the network of tomorrow, while perfectly good existing technology goes unexploited as passe. Only long-wavelength, singlemode technologies are permitted in the local loop while low-cost, 850-nm gigabit VCSELs and multimode fiber are banned from the FITL environment. Talk about a handicap. And you don`t hear Bellcore restricting either the use of Category 5 twisted pair in the loop or the cost of laying new copper (without parallel glass) where necessary.

Secondly, the fiber community has opened its doors to competitive technology presentations at fiber trade shows. Don`t they have trade shows of their own? Is there so little fiber material to present that we seek out irrelevant presentations?

Finally, I have requested that component vendors make presentations to our customers to make sure they are aware of the technology potential. But rarely have any of them followed this path, so they reap what they sow.

But all isn`t lost yet, even though I did buy a satellite dish recently. Cisco, whose business growth depends on moving bits around in the most efficient manner, seems to understand that their growth is dependent on the increasing appetite for bandwidth, and that fiber alone offers the futureproof way of transporting those bits. The second ray of hope comes from the cable world, which is laying fiber big-time, recognizing that the time is now right to capture the business by upgrading their cable plant.

This nation needs a NASA-like agency to create standards and strategies for building communications network and assure fair competition between builders. The payoff would far exceed that of the manned space program. I wonder where Mr. Gore stands on this issue?

Larry Foltzer, Lightwave applications manager

Alcatel, Petaluma, CA

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