Friday, September 26, 2008

FTTH Growth Stays on Track as Connections Rise too

NASHVILLE - The upgrading of North America's last mile networks with end-to-end fiber is continuing at a robust pace, with fiber to the home (FTTH) arriving at more than 1.6 million households over the past year, bringing the total number of FTTH subscribers to 3.76 million, according to a study released today by the Fiber to the Home Council. The study, by RVA Market Research pegged the annual growth rate for fiber to the home in North America at 76 percent, the highest of any country or region in the world. The updated deployment statistics were announced at the FTTH 2008 Conference & Expo, which is being held this week in Nashville, Tennessee.The study also shows fiber to the home networks now passing 13.8 million North American homes, up from 9.55 million a year ago, and that the number of homes receiving video services over FTTH more than doubled over the past year, from slightly more than one million in September 2007 to nearly 2.2 million today. Meanwhile, the overall "take rate" - the percentage of those offered FTTH service who decide to subscribe - went up for the fifth straight six-month period, and now stands at more than 30 percent. "This continued growth in the number of connections and in the take rate is evidence of what consumers think about fiber to the home - it is fast becoming the technology of choice for receiving high-bandwidth Internet and superior video services," said Joe Savage, President of the FTTH Council. "In addition, we are continuing to see enormously high customer satisfaction rates for FTTH services when compared to other types of broadband and video providers." The study also found that average data download speeds for FTTH subscribers continued to rise - to 7 megabits per second from 5.2 Mbps a year ago - as providers increased available bandwidth in their service offerings. This compares to a median real-time Internet download speed of 2.3 Mbps among all Internet users, as determined by the Communications Workers of America in their recent Speed Matters survey of more than 230,000 people.Mike Render of RVA LLC, who authored the study, noted that the sustained high growth rate for FTTH connections is disproving many of the claims that skeptics made about the technology just a few years ago. "They said FTTH would never work for overbuilds, in rural areas, in multi-tenant buildings or in places where there was already competition to provide these services. They said no one would ever need or pay for 7 megabits of download speed. And now we are finding that those concerns are not panning out."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fiber Basics

I know you all know this already, but I found some videos about fiber basics that some of those just learning might be interetsed in.

Verizon Business Customers Benefit from TPE Subsea Network

SEPTEMBER 17, 2008 -- Verizon Business today announced that it is first to market with the Trans-Pacific Express submarine cable network connecting the United States with mainland China, South Korea, and Taiwan. Verizon Business multinational customers with IP, data, and voice communications traffic moving onto this cable system, which is now active, will see immediate benefits, including additional capacity, greater physical diversity, reduced latency, improved performance, and seven-way mesh network diversity, says the carrier.
"Less than two years ago in Beijing, I told our customers we would deliver the network they needed by building the most direct and highest-capacity cable system between the United States and China/northern Asia," recalls Fred Briggs, executive vice president of Verizon Business operations and technology. "Today, our multinational customers can take full advantage of this very aggressive cable build. They can expand their businesses throughout northern Asia knowing their mission-critical traffic is riding on one of the most advanced submarine cable networks in the world."
Verizon Business teamed up with founding TPE Consortium members--China Telecom, China Netcom, China Unicom, Korea Telecom, and Chunghwa Telecom (Taiwan)--to build the TPE cable. The new 18,000-km (more than 11,000-mile) cable system uses the latest optical technology to provide greater capacity and high speeds to meet the dramatic increase in demand for IP, data, and voice communications in the growth countries. The new fiber-optic cable can support the equivalent of 77.5 million simultaneous phone calls, says Verizon, more than 60 times the overall capacity of the existing cable directly linking the United States and mainland China.
The operating capacity of the system--the largest ever built directly between the U.S. and mainland China, South Korea, and Taiwan--is 3.2 Tbits/sec, an increase of 25% over the original system design. With a minimum 80 wavelengths per fiber, TPE has the highest wave-density of any submarine cable in the world at this length. For the first time, individual customers can now access a cable system at wavelengths of up to 10 Gbits/sec directly from the U.S. to China, Korea, and Taiwan. In the next phase, the system will add links to Japan.
Verizon Business' Private IP and Private Line customers with traffic between the United States and China will be the first to see benefits across the network, says Verizon. One of the most sought-after benefits is reduced latency--the time it takes for data sent from its entry point in the network to reach its destination.
"When we designed this submarine cable system, we sought the shortest direct physical paths between locations," reports Ihab Tarazi, vice president of global network planning for Verizon Business. "This cable minimizes the physical distance for direct connectivity to China, South Korea, and Taiwan and provides route diversity away from Japan, where many other submarine cables land today."
Verizon Business customers using the Trans-Pacific Express cable network also will take advantage of additional investments to connect the system to the company's ultra-long-haul network in the U.S., extensions across Asia that provide end-to-end connectivity, and secured capacity for private IP customers in the Asia Pacific region.
In addition to more capacity, higher speeds and lower latency, the TPE system will provide more diversity of routes for customers using Pacific submarine cables, notes the carrier. Ever since a major earthquake occurred off the coast of Taiwan in December 2006, diversity has become one of the most important features customers require when purchasing capacity on undersea cables.
Customers also will take advantage of a network architecture design called meshing, which provides alternate paths for rerouting traffic in the event of a cable cut or network disruption. When a service interruption occurs and meshing is needed, the equipment housed in network buildings on land allow the rerouting of voice and data traffic within 50 to 100 milliseconds.
Verizon Business says it is the first to offer seven-way trans-oceanic mesh diversity across both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The company's mesh network in northern Asia includes physical node diversity in major cities, coupled with backhaul and cable system diversity to provide superior survivability during network issues. Mesh nodes were recently installed in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan. Japan was already included in the Pacific global mesh network.
"When you combine the complete TPE package we are offering our Verizon Business multinational customers, it's second to none in the industry," contends Tarazi.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Radhard Fiber Optic Cable

A little something I'm interested in.

FTTE - Fiber to the Europe

A little information about FTTH in Europe in preparation for ECOC next week (

European FTTH: A matter of perception
by Stephen M. Hardy
The global optical communications industry will meet next month in Brussels for the annual European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC). As our "Analyst Corner" this month indicates, 2007 was a banner year for fiber-optic technology in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). The region accounted for 36% of a global market that had its best year since 2001, the last year of the infamous bubble.
Granted, by the time ECOC rolls around, the EMEA market may have succumbed to global economic slowdown. However, it seems to me that attendees at ECOC should still be buoyed by the market's recent success. This may mean that while executives at component/subsystem houses were downright grumpy at OFC/NFOEC, their ECOC counterparts with a large pull-through from EMEA will be merely rueful. Still, there's a lot of good news to be found in the region for proponents of optical communications.
That includes fiber to the home and fiber to the building or multiple dwelling unit (FTTH/B). Those of you hoping to catch up with EMEA's FTTH/B market at ECOC will no doubt find conflicting opinions about how well the region is doing in this area. That's because it seems that every positive step comes with a caveat.
For example, of the 14 markets where FTTH/B technology enjoys greater than 1% penetration rates, half are in Europe. However, no market enjoys a greater than 7.5% percent penetration rate, and each of these markets is small compared to the U.S. and many countries in Asia. Meanwhile, competitive pressures have led incumbents such as France Telecom to announce FTTH/B roll-outs—yet the planned deployments pale in comparison to those of Verizon and NTT. BT has announced its own FTTH plans. But these look more like AT&T's greenfield-only approach and won't be implemented unless there is "a supportive and enduring regulatory environment."
In short, proponents will no doubt tell attendees that FTTH/B progress is being made, but not fast enough to suit them.
If you're coming to ECOC from the United States, you'll probably decide that a lot of what is going on in EMEA FTTH/B, particularly in Europe, reminds you of home. Most of the early FTTH deployments in Europe have come from utilities, rural carriers, and municipalities. Like a lot of the high-profile municipal deployments in the United States—particularly iProvo and UTOPIA—city-sponsored FTTH/B models tend to favor open access. And while Active Ethernet and EPON support many of these municipal and rural deployments, incumbents have preferred GPON technology.
However, a closer look will reveal some telling differences. In particular, whereas the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) cleared the decks for U.S. incumbents by ruling that they wouldn't have to share FTTH/B infrastructure, sentiment in EMEA, particularly in Europe, appears to be running in the opposite direction. I say "appears" because while we're discussing the European market as if it were a single entity, it of course comprises multiple countries, each of which has its own regulatory authority. France's regulator appears set on equal access for all competitors when it comes to FTTH/B; meanwhile, regulatory authorities in Germany gave their support to Deutsche Telekom when the European Commission pressured the carrier to open its lines to competitors. BT, as its demand for favorable conditions indicates, has now put pressure on the UK's regulators to play along or risk the impression that it will stand in the way of high-speed broadband reaching more of the nation's consumers.
The failure of European Commissioner Viviane Reding to push through her vision of a pan-European regulatory authority similar to the FCC means that, for now anyway, the regulatory climate for FTTH/B in Europe will remain checkered. Alternative plans to reform European Union telecom regulations are expected to be voted on in September. These involve the adoption of the concept of "functional separation," in which services are treated separately from the infrastructure on which they ride—to the point of forcing carriers to set up separate business units for each. The idea, proponents say, is to create a climate where the infrastructure business units don't have an economic incentive to discriminate against their wholesale customers, even if they compete against the business unit's services sibling.
Whether this plan goes through—and how the plan will be implemented in each country—is the biggest question mark that hangs over FTTH/B in EMEA. So, in the end, when you ask a local attendee at ECOC how FTTH/B is going in the region, how they feel about this plan may be the most influential factor coloring their perception.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fiber to the Houseboat

From the LightWave Blog

September 5, 2008
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?