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Shaw gears up for Gigabit Internet, RFoG trials

Thu, 02/18/2010 - 8:27am
Mike Robuck

While Google’s announcement last week in regard to a planned 1 Gigabit fiber-to-the-home trial garnered a lot of ink, virtual or real, Canadian cable operator Shaw Communications has been planning its own Gigabit FTTH trial for some time.

Shaw’s Gigabit Internet service will feature speeds that are 10 times faster than its High-Speed Nitro service, which currently tops out at 100 Mbps.

While Shaw announced its own Gigabit trial yesterday, there weren’t a lot of details other than the trial will start in April, but this trial is more than a knee-jerk reaction to Google’s announcement, which was apparent during an interview I had last week with Shaw’s Dennis Steiger, vice president of engineering, and Scott Atkinson, senior director of infrastructure.

“DOCSIS 3 has been rolled out by Shaw for some time, and we’re getting some pretty good traction around our 100 Mbps service, but we’re thinking about what happens next?” Steiger asked. “As you’ve probably read, Google has talked about 1 Gig fiber-to-the-home builds and things like that. We’ve been giving that quite a bit of thought, too, and we’re looking more at what fiber brings in that realm, as well.”

Shaw is designing a passive optical network (PON) that will allow it to overlay RFoG (RF over glass) in the short term, with existing CPE equipment, and down the road Gigabit Ethernet services.

“The future of high-speed data isn’t going to be about DOCSIS, or DOCSIS 4 or DOCSIS 5,” Steiger said. “It’s really going to be about Ethernet Gig service to the home, and the passive optical networks that we build will allow us to do that. They allow us to bring both RFoG and high-speed data in the Gigabit range into the home, so we’re also building for the future, as well. I don’t think Gigabit per second is all that far down the road.”

In addition to the Gigabit trial, Atkinson said Shaw was in “deep design” on RFoG and could see trials in greenfield, multiple-dwelling unit (MDU) and brownfield environments by April.

For more on cable operators’ fiber-optics strategies, check out the March/April edition of CED.


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