Screaming around corners
Corning has just given Verizon a lovely gift: optical fiber that experiences minimal signal loss when not only just bent, but when tightly and repeatedly looped.
Why is this so great for Verizon? Recall that Verizon could afford to make FiOS a fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) network because throughout much of its territory, its wires are mounted aerially, which means Verizon's infrastructure is much, much easier to upgrade or replace than if it had been buried (as much of AT&T's is).
FiOS is fiber to the premises, but the optical fiber in most cases terminates at the outside wall. For potential residential customers that's okay, because the bandwidth required by and allocated to any given single-family home can usually be handled inside the house by in-home copper wiring – in most cases coax.
Since there isn't much need for fiber inside the average home, there's little reason to dwell on the fact that FiOS fiber pretty much has to stop at the outer wall because there's no way regular fiber can snake around inside the average home.
But did you ever wonder why FiOS was aimed directly at single-family homes, and not so much at apartment buildings and commercial buildings?
The problem is that splicing to copper is an automatic restriction on data rates. Quoting a paper from Corning published earlier, fiber can provide premises network connectivity at 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps out to 1,100 meters and 550 meters, respectively. Cat 5, however, provides for a maximum of 100 meters reach at 1 Gbps. "In addition," the paper says, "the cable for the 10 Gbps copper solution cannot be easily field terminated."
Premises network reach limitation as a function of cable selection and data rate.
In short, for an FTTP network operator to get the gigabits-per-second it's capable of to customers who would want gigabits per second, who might be located in the centers of the widest buildings or on the upper floors of taller buildings, then that operator needs fiber to get most of the way there, which it couldn't do before, because fiber couldn't bend around hallway corridors or through conduits and keep a signal.
Okay, some specialized optical fiber could do that, but it couldn't be spliced easily with run-of-the-mill single-mode optical fiber. Corning's new bendy fiber can be spliced easily, with no special equipment or connectors, with traditional fiber, Dr. Bernhard Deutsch, Corning's director of marketing and market development, told us in an interview. It has the same diameter, dimensions, and operating parameters as traditional optical fiber.
Verizon is by far the biggest company in the U.S. with the most immediate need for bendy fiber. The number of businesses and apartment buildings in Verizon's territory, which occupies much of the incipient Sprawl, is enormous, and represents an enormous business opportunity. Corning has made sure the operator has had some to play with.
Gumby and Pokey:
the ultimate in "bendy."
Though Verizon will be the first, most obvious potential customer, there are plenty of potential customers worldwide. The U.S. MDU market is about 30 million, Deutsch said, but worldwide the number is 680 million MDUs.
Deutsch said some cable operators have expressed interest in the fiber. Cable ops would probably be interested in commercial market opportunities.
Corning is being coy about how the fiber is made. It uses an unidentified nanostructure to create a substance with a refractive index different from the fiber's core, but minus the mention of "nanostructures," that just describes how any fiber works.
Corning plans on a formal introduction coupled with a demonstration in October, about the time when commercial production should commence. Deutsch was also evasive about pricing, saying only that Corning is evaluating the value of the fiber.
What that means to me is that Corning's bendy fiber might possibly be as inexpensive to make as its regular single-mode fiber, or nearly so, but Corning might be able to charge a premium for the stuff.
Sounds like it might be worth it.
|Brian Santo, IP Capsule Editor & CED Magazine Editor
Comcast adds Thomson as eMTA supplier
Comcast has approved the DHG535 eMTA from Thomson, and will use the device in its ongoing rollout of its Comcast Digital Voice service, according to Thomson. Thomson has been supplying Comcast with cable modems for years. Prior to this, Comcast has been relying largely on eMTAs from Arris.
Cablevision offers multi-line residential VoIP
Cablevision Systems Corp. is now giving its residential customers the option of having up to four Optimum Voice digital phone lines. Subscribers with one Optimum Voice line can add up to three additional lines for $14.95 per month, per line. Cablevision already offers business customers up to eight lines of Optimum Voice.
Emergency alert from CedarPoint, CommScope/IPcelerate
CommScope and IPcelerate integrated their respective systems to create an emergency notification system for VoIP networks. The joint solution was developed for a large, unnamed Dallas-based corporation under the auspices of Cisco's technology partners program.
Separately, Cedar Point Communications developed an emergency alert system for campus and university environments that allows system administrators to provide customized warnings on a location-by-location basis. The Campus Emergency Notification Solution (CENS) uses the capabilities of Cedar Point's Safari C3 Multimedia Switching System.
Avaya shipping more VoIP than ever
The revenue of Avaya declined slightly in its third quarter, but net income was up. The company said the shift to IP from traditional TDM telephony continued, as IP product sales increased 10 percent compared to the third quarter of fiscal 2006. During the quarter, Avaya shipped over one million IP lines for the 5th consecutive quarter. IP telephony now represents 69 percent of the company's sales.
Sprint teams with Google to enrich WiMAX experience
Sprint's forthcoming mobile WiMAX service will feature a portal from Google. The two expect to collaborate on developing new mobility and location-assisted services. The companies said that Sprint network bandwidth, location detection, and presence capabilities will be matched with Google's communications suite, which includes Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Talk services.
Sprint plans WiMAX test service in the Chicago, Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas by year-end 2007. Commercial service is expected to be available in a number of markets starting April 2008 and cover 100 million people by year-end 2008 in conjunction with a planned partnership with Clearwire.
Helio remains a drag on EarthLink
Continuing to shed subscribers, and weighed down by a cellular phone joint venture that is still not performing up to expectations, EarthLink reported second quarter revenue was down 6 percent from a year ago to $312.2 million, which contributed to a Q2 net loss of $16 million, compared to a year-ago gain of $16 million. The company is now down to 4.1 million total subscribers, from 5.1 million a year ago.
Helio, the company's cell phone venture with SK Telecom, met its goal of signing up 100,000 subscribers, but Helio alone lost $83 million.
TWC adds music, games from Synacor to Road Runner service
Most of Time Warner Cable's Road Runner subscribers will be able to tap into a premium service bundle thanks to a deal with Synacor. The premium online services include Variety Pack, Road Runner Music and Road Runner Music to Go. Variety Packs gives Road Runner users access to content from American Greetings, MLB.com, The Weather Channel, Encyclopedia Britannica and Shockwave.com for $7.95 a month.
Motorola unleashes new mesh portfolio
Motorola Inc. has formally unveiled its Motomesh product series—a portfolio of high-performance, municipal, campus and enterprise wireless networks—and has added two additional radio configurations to the series.
The 2.4/5.4 GHz and 2.4/4.9 GHz versions of Motomesh Duo are an expansion of Motorola's two radio meshed Wi-Fi product, currently available in a 2.4/5.8GHz configuration. The 5.4 GHz model addresses international customer needs, while the 4.9 GHz model offers secure and dedicated mesh networking for public safety departments.
Company: Qwest Communications International
Headquarters: Denver, Colo.
CEO: Richard C. Notebaert
Claim To Fame: One of the three remaining Baby Bells, Qwest has a vast geographical territory, though covering many of the least densely-populated areas in the country.
Recent News Of Note: Qwest was recently awarded a massive contract to provide IP networking for the federal government, a savvy maneuver that essentially has one of the largest possible customers in the world pay for Qwest to catch up in IP technology. The company recently opened a state of the art NOC in Arlington, Va., to support the government network.