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Where FTTH falls short

October 6, 2008

Posted by Tim Pritchard, publisher, Lightwave

Editor's Note: Our boss, Tim Pritchard, asked for "equal access" to the blog to get something off his chest that's been bugging him about his current FTTH experience.

When I first thought of entering the world of blogging, I was getting myself psyched up for yanking on my pant belt to let loose a good, "Why you, I, or somebody oughtta…!!!" But cooler headwinds prevailed.

As both Group Publisher of LIGHTWAVE and an FTTH customer, my take on fiber service is different than an average customer. I see everything through the lens of our industry's work. Are we getting the promise of fiber out of our fiber-optic works? So far I say no.

At the heart of what it seems to me to be a missed opportunity that lies between what is happening in the fiber roll out to the home and what could happen is the fact that wireline service providers focus on getting fiber service to the NCU -- and then stop there.

If the wireline side of telecom looked at customers the way their wireless counterparts do -- then they would forever have their eyes on the device and the end user, not just the backbone.

I have FTTH. At my NCU the Cat5 runs to a router that has an Ethernet attachment for my desktop computer and a wireless interface for the laptops in my home. Also out of my NCU, my telecom provider repurposed the previous MSO's coax between the NCU and my set top boxes that serve the televisions in my home.

Consider the opportunity missed. Verizon, Cingular/ATT, and other wireless providers partner with Motorola, Nokia, and other handheld device makers and in doing so not only continually drive next-generation cell phone activity -- always coming out with and promoting next-generation devices which in turn drive more applications and revenue for the wireless phone companies -- but also drive brand as the carriers' brand footprint is all over the applications (see Verizon VCast as an example).

What if Verizon and other wireline carriers were to partner with Sony, Sanyo, RCA, Dell, Gateway, and other wired device makers in the same way their wireless counterparts partner with consumer wireless device makers?

Imagine now an FTTH customer experience that brings fiber all the way to the device. Instead of supporting 56-kbit/sec service on my laptops and scrambled, latency-affected viewing on my TV, I would get something completely out of the ordinary. Awesome HDTV and lightning fast Internet connectivity coupled with interfaces and applications that the bright engineers at the consumer device makers can and would dream up.

I think that for the full reality of the fiber to the home dream -- of what we in this industry know we can build -- to come true, smart carriers need to find consumer device makers with which to partner. Customers like me would gladly add $20 to our monthly bill for a device (or devices) integrated into our packages that would work with extraordinary efficiency and a full menu of otherwise unattainable applications.

Hey, the phone companies may even get back to a model where they simply lease the devices (like the 1980's AT&T; phone models) -- only this go around they would offer regular upgrades for everyone's benefit.

I am one FTTH customer that would sign onto that type of integrated service with a leased device model. How about you?

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Blogger Ronald said...
Hi Tim,
I couldn't agree with you more.
I spoke to some Verizon Fios VPs
a while back and told them they are defeating the purpose of bringing in fiber optics to the back of the house and then converting back to coax to connect to the HDTV set. I also told Verizon that they should partner up with let say Sony or Samsung, etc., to have a fiber to the set FTTS connector and interface. They could partner up a chip set to allow this with an LC connector. Toslink (Toshiba Fiber Optic Audio Link)did this for audio
so why not HDTV for audio and video.
Once they do this, I feel the rest of the industry will follow suit.
I also feel they might think it is to expensive, but I told them with VCELS (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser)opto-electronics this should prove cost effective.
I think it will happen soon or later, but with the current economic crisis it will have to wait.

Ronald Ajemian
Owl Fiber Optics
Flushing, NY 11372
Monday, October 6, 2008 10:18:00 PM EDT  

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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.

Stephen Hardy is editorial director and associate publisher of Lightwave, which makes him responsible for the editorial aspects of the Lightwave franchise. A technology journalist since 1982, he once had his job duties described as "gets paid to tick off advertisers ".

Meghan Fuller is senior editor of Lightwave. She has degrees from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, and the University of Delaware and is a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation.