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Posted by Meghan Fuller Hanna

GlasvezelNet Amsterdam (GNA), a driving force behind Amsterdam's 40,000-home FTTH initiative CityNet, in conjunction with BBned and InterNLnet, recently conducted a trial to demonstrate the feasibility of delivering 1-Gbit/sec symmetrical service to the home.

Yesterday, GNA posted a video to YouTube entitled "1000/1000 Mbps FttH test Amsterdam." The images are somewhat grainy, and there is no sound, but I still think it's cool that they YouTubed their results.


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It's the price, right? Wrong.

September 11, 2008

Posted by Stephen Hardy

We continually hear component and subsystem vendors complain about how often their customers grind them down on price. They can't maintain decent margins when systems houses refuse to pay a reasonable price for their wares or when their competitors agree to ship a few dollars out the door with each device they sell. It's all about how low your price is, one would conclude.

In our upcoming September issue, we report the results of our second annual survey of Lightwave readers who buy transceivers and transponders. The survey is designed to uncover the factors that go into the purchase decision, including attributes of the products themselves as well as the vendors who supply them. And, for the second year in a row, our readers tell us that price isn't the most important factor when it comes to choosing a transceiver or transponder. Reliability is #1, with performance second and cost coming in third.

So on the one hand, we hear constant grumbling from the component and subsystem vendors about price; on the other, we have their customers saying that price isn't the first, or even the second, most important factor in choosing a device for their application. What gives?

There could be several factors at play. First, engineers may choose the device, and someone else in the company may choose how much they're going to pay for it. Second, there may be even fewer points of differentiation among vendors when it comes to reliability and performance than one would think, meaning that the only way they can compete is on price. That's the way a commoditized market works -- and heaven help the industry if that's the case more often than not.


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Posted by Meghan Fuller Hanna

Several days ago, I received an email from Draka touting "the world's first fiber to the houseboat." It seems the company has developed a new type of optical connector that allows houseboat owners to physically connect to Amsterdam's CityNet fiber-optic network upon mooring and disconnect whenever a trip is necessary.

Intrigued, I immediately asked for more information.

Unfortunately, the lead engineer on the project is currently on vacation, but I've been in email communication with a Draka spokesperson, who provided a few additional details. As part of the Amsterdam CityNet broadband project, Draka was challenged to develop a connector to meet the unique requirements of FTTH customers living on houseboats.

Not an easy task, as the Draka spokesperson noted. These houseboats are mobile; now and then, they go sailing on the Ijsselmeer, and sometimes they must sail to shipyards for maintenance.

(For the record, the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC) reports that there are some 2,500 houseboats docked in the city of Amsterdam.)

A standard, fixed optical fiber connection for houseboat applications was obviously out of the question. Instead, a fiber-to-the-houseboat application requires an optical connection that is robust enough for the houseboat owners themselves to connect and disconnect. Moreover, standard connectors are sensitive to dirt and dust, so a fiber-to-the-houseboat-optimized optical connector would have to be easy to clean and dry. (Draka tells me the connector it has developed can be dropped into the water.)

Writes the Draka spokesperson, "Trials proved that with minor modifications, a very robust beam connector originally developed for military applications is ideally suited for houseboat applications. It can be cleaned easily and has good transmission characteristics."

To underscore the viability of the new connector, Draka released this photo of Oliver Ax, proud owner of the world's first fiber-connected houseboat.

"I now have ultra-fast Internet, TV, and telephone connection through one single cable," reports Ax, who says he has always been interested in technology and is delighted with the new services provided by GNA (Glasvezelnet Amsterdam) and local Internet provider Alice.

Fiber-to-the-houseboat. Kinda makes you wonder what's next. Fiber-to-the-RV? What about fiber-to-the-car? Maybe some day, we'll be able to plug into a fiber connection while we're waiting for our electric cars to charge.

In the meantime, anyone else have any cool "Fiber to the . . . ." stories?

Blogger genu soris said...
Good start toward a better Lightwave, Steve and Meghan and please follow-up with more of the topic when the designer gets back. And, don't forget to add an overview of the receiver and the technology used. Further, I hope you would include a description of what technology the ISP provider uses to demux and route the smaller slices that make Ax look so happy. And if you really get carried away, a coming article might compare FIOS to the Draka approach including cost comparisons.
Saturday, September 6, 2008 1:10:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Marek said...
A new version of the FTTH acronym if I ever saw one :P
Thursday, September 11, 2008 5:02:00 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.