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The Lightwave Blog
Ovum: European FTTH needs governmental role
February 13, 2009
Posted by Stephen Hardy
Inspired by his attendance at this week's FTTH Council Europe conference in Copenhagen, Ovum Senior Analyst Charlie Davies has issued a few thoughts on the catalysts necessary for FTTH to grow more rapidly on The Continent.
Noting that a busy exhibition floor highlighted the growing importance placed on next-generation access (NGA) infrastructures, Davies added that "there was an equal recognition that for fibre to flower, it needs a lot more nurturing: from private investors, governments and regulators alike." However, governments in particular will have a primary role to play, he said. For example:
"Key to the 'bottom up' is a more active role by regional and local authorities who have a much more vested interest in their region’s overall economic and social progress. So rather than being purely operator driven broadband rollout, with an eye on NGA access and more ubiquitous coverage comes under the wing of the region, working in partnership with private companies. This approach has been key to rollout of fibre in Sweden and is being replicated elsewhere in Europe on a larger scale. A number of regions including South-West France (Pyrenees-Atlantiques) and Southern Spain (Catalonia) are embarking down this road."
Davies notes that regulators can either help or hurt this process -- particularly as they attempt to encourage private investment. "We expect the next 6 months to be crucial as regulators at both an EU and a national level get to grips with a complex, changing, but at least vibrant landscape," he concluded.
Verizon: No rollout plans yet for 100 meg
December 11, 2008
Posted by Stephen Hardy
Despite the impression he gave us (not to mention Telephony) during his keynote presentation at Optical Access '08 last Thursday, Verizon Director of FTTP Architecture and Design Vincent O'Byrne did not announce Verizon's intention to roll out 100-Mbps services over its FiOS FTTH network in 2009. So says Jim Smith, Verizon Telecom's director of media relations, in an email we recently received.
"What I and he thinks he said was we'd make the engineering choices and construction to make 100 meg possible; neither of us remember him saying we'd sell it," Smith wrote.
Just to put a cap on the matter, Smith concluded, "It is not on anyone's actual product rollout plans at this point."
Were we (and others) hearing things? You can judge for yourself by listening to O'Byrne's keynote.
Wavelength debate makes RFoG standard unclear
October 22, 2008
Posted by Stephen Hardy
As you'll see in an article that will appear in the November issue of Lightwave, the working group within SCTE that is shaping the RF over Glass (RFoG) standards has hit a stumbling block. The group has reached consensus on 1550 nm as the downstream wavelength. However, determining which upstream wavelengths to use has become an issue.
The problem is that the working group, which contains several equipment vendors that also make PON systems, is attempting to construct the specifications in such a way that carriers can overlay a PON over the RFoG infrastructure. Given the wavelengths already in play for GPON and EPON, plus those expected to be used for the 10-Gbit/sec standards now under development within FSAN and the IEEE, there aren't a lot of attractive wavelengths left. And if you can't leverage the volumes that lasers tuned to the already popular wavelengths enjoy, how can you keep costs down?
At the heart of the conundrum is the question of the role RFoG will play on the path toward all-optical MSO networks. One source for my article, whose company currently supplies RFoG-like equipment, asserts that the PON suppliers are pushing an agenda in which RFoG is merely an interim step toward PONs. The source disagrees with this philosophy; his feeling is that RFoG architectures will have a long life within MSO networks, and that the SCTE should therefore focus on what's the most cost-effective way to deploy them, PONs be damned.
Despite this hiccough, consensus indicates that the SCTE working group will complete its task by the middle of next year. But it would appear that carriers could play a very useful role by communicating their viewpoints on the expected relationship (or lack of it) between RFoG and PONs.
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?
The most interesting thing so far
June 18, 2008
Posted by Stephen Hardy
NXTcomm is in full swing, with the buzz surrounding high-speed networking and FTTH, particularly WDM-PON, attaining the anticipated high pitch. The most interesting thing I've heard about so far, in fact, pertains to WDM-PON, specifically Tellabs' upcoming work for the SARDANA program funded by the European Commission.
SARDANA stands for "Scalable Advance Ring-based passive Dense Access Network Architecture." As the name implies, the goal of the three-year program is to develop a ring-based WDM-PON architecture with a reach of around 100 km. (You can read more about it at the project's website.) The key to the extended reach is including amplification in the network. According to Tellabs, they plan to base the amplification on EDFA technology. But how do you put EDFAs, which require power for the pump laser, into an passive network infrastructure? You "disintegrate" it, Tellabs says; you put the pump laser function in the central office, where you already have power, shoot the pump laser light down the network on one of the PON wavelengths, and have passive amplification units that leverage the pump to amplify the surrounding wavelengths.
If it works, Tellabs thinks they can find more applications for it beyond SARDANA. I bet they can too.
Hybrid ONT/gateways? Bah humbug!
January 10, 2008
Posted by Stephen Hardy
While competitors such as PMC-Sierra, BroadLight, and Conexant Systems have released chips designed to support the development of hybrid GPON ONT/residential gateway platforms (see announcements here, here, and there), iamba Networks CEO Moshe Nattiv recently told me he isn't sure what all the fuss is about, at least in the short term.
iamba develops and markets a wide range of PON products, from chips and software to ONTs.
The regulations and a requirement for network demarcation points their technicians can access easily will continue to drive Verizon, AT&T;, and most other U.S. carriers to have the ONT on the outside of the home and the gateway inside, he believes. And while others have suggested France Telecom might have interest in a hybrid platform, Nattiv expects that unbundling requirements imposed by French regulatory authorities will lead to configurations in which a single ONT can be shared by multiple service providers -- each of whom will want to use their own gateway.
MDU deployments will require separate ONTs and gateways as well, he says.
Nattiv was quick to add that this viewpoint isn't meant to imply that iamba Networks doesn't have a chip for such hybrid platforms on the roadmap. It's just that he doesn't see any reason to rush it to market.
Night night FlexLight?
December 18, 2007
Posted by Stephen Hardy
Haaretz.com reported on December 6 that GPON pioneer FlexLight Networks has filed for bankruptcy. (See the story here.) Haaretz's Guy Griml quotes an unidentified FlexLight executive as suggesting the company came out with a product too early. However, the executive also blamed a lack of marketing and development focus.
"At some point it became apparent that FlexLight would be sold or closed down. The investors were impatient, and the big players, Alcatel, Siemens, and Telrad, released similar GPON products," Griml quotes the executive as saying. "As far as I'm concerned, this company is a huge miss."
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