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Fiber Optics Lines Can Offer Much More 154

XEpsilon writes: "According to this article, the current usage of fiber optics lines is only .5% of the capacity fiber optics lines offer. The internet is also slowed down by old copper lines that are still being used -- converting from light impulses to electric signals is the major slow-down. A certain company, Cogent Communications, is offering unshared 100Mbps internet access for $1000, which is $500 less than the price of a T1." Interesting to note that Cogent bought just two strands of pre-existing inter-city fiber to re-sell the bandwidth. I'd easily pay $100 a month for far less than a tenth of the bandwidth they're promising -- let's hear it for economies of scale!
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Fiber Optics Lines Can Offer Much More

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Superior technology doesn't make a standard. One just needs to look at the windows install base to see that. Consider dtv will require at least a 600megahertz, this alone means everyone will have to updgrade their system. What's that, the closed source dtv software uses up 60% of your system's memory, prepare to buy more memory.

    consider this instead. adsl driver included in the linux kernel to be distributed with all cheap linux boxes. Freenet nodes housing gigabytes of divX+ programming [] along with a freenet client built inside your mozilla browser. your tivo(tm) style freenet content listing guide will pop up in a separte browser window and when you click on the link, it'll launch the divX+ plugin to play the mulitmedia within your mozilla browser.

    don't through intel out of the picture yet folks, the cost of a digital telivision expierence will be cheap, and you can use low end intel commodity parts to build the future divX/freenet/mozilla telivsions. Yes we will be watching television on our telivsions, but it's not going to be dtv technology.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    but I'm wondering how long before people in out of the way places will be able to get fast internet access instead of having to rely on ISDN/modem.
  • by synaptik ( 125 )
    Careful... your 50% brain usage could also be due to inferior genes...


  • I live in a residential area of a city of about 80,000 and I've got fibre within 100 meters. Shaw cable put fibre through our city for their @home service. Thing is, there's no fibre going in or out of the city, so my data goes from my cable line, to fibre, to the @home CO, then onto T1 lines and such. S'posed to get fibre running in/out of the city within 4 months, though.
  • 100mbits/sec to the backbone is nice. I could see a vastly profitable market for coloc data centers. With a monthly operating capital of around $100K, and charging $500/month for 40-50GB of transfer a month (some places I've seen charge thousands for rates of transfer that aren't even a tenth of that), building to a median of about 350 clients you could hit break-even after about 8 months and become fully profitable in just under a year. And still have spare capacity.

    Again, the problem is, what's Cogent's peering setup look like? Without multiple, fairly fast peerings (at least OC3, if not more high capacity fiber links), anything that's NOT on the Cogent backbone could choke heavily at the gateway.

    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • Could you provide a link to them?

    I'm moving in a couple months here and I'm looking for decent places with high speed access around the Chicagoland area.

    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • The fact that a line is marked as "T1" is more likely to mean that it has the same capacity as a T1 line. It is probably converted to fiber within the network.
  • <i>If you're in on of the top 25 Metropolitan Areas in N.A., you might have a fiber line within a mile or so. Outside there, well, if you've got one within 10 miles, consider yourself lucky. </i>

    I think your assumption is wrong. I live in Bowling Green, OH. No where near a top 25 metro area. We have fiber running in town here. I also know that in Clarks Summit, PA we have fiber running along the railroad tracks behind our house... These are two VERY small towns that have direct access to large data pipes. I am not saying that we are able to access it (in BG we are, I know that they were talking about some ISP's getting a portion of the fiber) but it is none-the-less there and could be readily available.

    - Bill
  • Yeah, but that's outgoing traffic, and I'm guessing it means "going outside the University network", not just other machines on campus. Why would you need to serve RedHat to the world at large from your dorm room?

  • Well yeah, but there will be some progress made in more efficient propagation of light through the fiber.
  • splicing and terminating fiber a cheap after a certain point; how am I as an individual to replace the SC connector the puppy just ate off my 1/4 mile of fiber to my home? The connector is about $5, but the tools to apply the connector are over $500.
  • Houston. There's quite a few of them.
  • 21st Century is wiring Chicago with fiber to the house. They provide cable, local phone service, and internet access. I could even get it right now. Unfortunately their local phone service sucks, I don't want cable, and their internet backbone is somewhat spotty... If only we (the people) owned the fiber and any provider could use it. Then we might get some better options.
  • What irks me about all this is that even more then 5 years ago im sure telcos saw the need for a data net. But, in classic form, they continued to milk the current infrastructure to death instead of doing something like this [fiber data only net]. Of course they WILL switch over, but, they will find a crafty way to charge you more, and give ytou the same crappy service... and who knows how long the pipes will be bursting for before they do it. Heck, they might just wait for startups to build it and buy it all up.

    This article is heartning and pisses me off at the same time. I SHOULD have this innovation in my house right now. Oh well. Hopefully these guys get a TON of business and make all the T1 installations obsolete, before the telcos know what hit them.

    My future net:
    All fiber data net spanning the globe, with lines to every house

    Voice is done over data lines, with higher quality, and less cost.

    There is more bandwidth then anyone knows what do do with, thus allowing 'cable' television, video phones, and more, to utilize the network.

    This future is not technically unfeasable. Everything exists to make it reality, except for backward thinking bean-counters at major corperations who currently control the net stifling rapid forward progress.

    Hopefully, operations such as this startup will accelerate the goal. Can only hope.

  • to anyone, after all, I'm 65 feet from the fibre for Qwest, ICG, and Sprint, where I live (they all run along my side of the street), but call any of them and ask about getting a connection, and you need a T1, w/ a local-loop installed (by the LEC, ie. Qwest) and so on. Thing is, while I technically understand, it's not easy to just 'patch' into fibre, unless you were meant to patch in there. I'd still love to see someone who had the setup, so in major areas (I'm in the denver tech center, so there's certainly a lot of buildings around that could use not HAVING to have the LEC install a local-loop), that I _could_ get fibre into my house without Qwest being involved.
  • ...I'm much more familiar with the Telco's infrastructure, where they've been busily replacing long-distance trunks with fiber for quite some time.

    A silly question, though: Are DS3 lines necessarily copper? I was under the impression (possibly wrong) that they could be either copper or fiber, depending on the local equipment.

    Oh, and UUNET doesn't own 50%. More line 30% (in the USA). Sprint, MCI (now Cable&Wireless), ATT, and BBN (now Verizon) are now the "big 5" in the US - they each run between 10 and 25% of the network. And in Europe, the national telephone monopolies own huge percentages of the local backbones. I'd estimate that no company owns more than 10% of the total world-wide Internet backbone capacity.


  • Once there was UUNET, and MCI.

    Then Worldcomm bought UUNET.

    Then Worldcomm bought MCI.

    However, as part of the deal to buy MCI, Worldcomm had to sell the Internet backbone and ISP side of MCI to a third party. It ended up with Britain's Cable and Wireless.

    So: Worldcom/MCI now has UUNET's ISP business, while the old MCI ISP is sitting with C&W.

    Confusing, eh?

    Just remember that GTE bought BBN, and Bell Atlantic bought Nynex (which had bought New England Telephone), and now B.A. and GTE have merged, but they've spun off the ISP stuff as Verizon. And of course Qwest now owns USWest, while SBC owns Pac Bell, Ameritec, SWBell, Prodigy, and CellularOne. And of course AT&T has spun off Lucent now. About the only people I think that are still intact and haven't bought (or been bought) by another large player is Sprint.

    I loooooovvvvve the Telecommunications Act of 1996, don't you?



  • 100 MBps unshared to what? to their router which is connect via 155Mb to the backbone? What about the servers on the other end giving you the data. No matter how you slice it, Internet access is EXPENSIVE. The cheapest I have seen GOOD Internet backbone bandwidth is $300/mb. So, assuming a really nasty over commit ratio (somthing like telco DSL 200:1), That would drop it down to $1.50/mb which is profitable. But then it isn't unshared is it?

    The normal ratio of commerical over commit is 10:1 not 200:1

    "Now, I hope and pray that I will, but, today I am still just a bill"

  • I use 21stcentury's Internet and Cable service. Not sure what you mean by their service being spotty, I think you mean their service areas, as they are still rolling it out.

    These guys strung a fiber backbone along the North/South Elevated railway tracks in Chicago and then out into the neighborhoods from there. I talked to the techs when they were installing the service and apparently the fiber runs to access boxes in the neighborhood. Unfortunately though this is all shared bandwidth, so I get about T1 speeds at best, though the service is nominally 10mbps.

    Now I don't want to move for fear that the building I move to won't have 21stcentury


  • Unlimited bandwidth...until now piracy has only been limited by the amount of resources available, not anymore. Look at a cable user's mp3 collection compared to the guy with a 56k. When bandwith expands in the near future to make movies download like mp3s today, ALL intellectual property will be in danger. The government and others would like to think people have respect for intellectual property but they do not. Look at napster, look at the bandwidth coming; its going to happen. The internet is here, now what can we download for free?
  • > all traffic coming from one network would be
    > *easy* to stop.

    agreed - but individual hosts on a cable modem typically have a 128 kbps on shared bandwidth.

    100 Mbps of dedicated bandwidth could devastate lots of targets at once - the term MIRV comes to mind.

    so if you have a distributed attack from lots of these hosts ...
  • If you can't hack it in this reality what makes you think you'll be any better off in the next?
  • Try the Phoenix metro area. Seems almost every decent complex around here has at least a T1 (Ether ports in the apartment. Weeee).
  • What do you mean "Verizon" ? MediaOne is now AT&T but I don't think Verizon comes into it. BA (Bell Atlantic/Bad Attitude) is now Verizon.
  • Uh, moderate this guy up to 6 ? Hello?
  • ok, say who! ?
  • What Cogent likely will be offering initially is very high speed VPN service to _businesses_ which lease space in relatively few buildings in each of some major cities. These will be fast _internal_ networks. Who needs this? Big corporations: think banks, brokerages, large accounting firms, major industrial corporations. Another poster noted that the first turn-up in the Chicago area will be at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) - it is a _very_ high volume financial marketplace. These will be Cogent's customers.

    The really large firms (IBM, GM/EDS/Hughes, maybe CSC) already did this years ago, but have since subleased and/or sold their internal networks (IBM GlobalNet is now owned by AT&T, for example). Now they're free to hitch onto faster, newer networks such as the ones Cogent and others are building.

    The point is, this is about high speed _private_ nets, not fiber-to-the-curb or replacing xDSL and cable. Sure, there will be peering, but that will depend on the speed of those interfaces - the real speed advantages will obtain within their network.
  • A single span without amplification can currently reach about 30 km at 40 Gbps in the lab. When you add optical amplification, things start to get rather better, and transatlantic single span fibres have existed for a few years now. Couple this with the fact that a single optical amplifier can amplify over 100 40 Gbps channels at once when WDM (wavelength division multiplexing) is used, and you have quite ridiculous data rates.

    I imagine the comment in the article about only .5% of the available bandwidth being used is for short span WDM systems, without optical amplifiers.
  • Currently Nortel Networks has a 160 wavelength 10 Gbs system. I don't know what the competion has, I am only familiar with what I have used. I doubt that they have sold one yet that uses all the wavelengths.
    Lucent,Alcatel, and Nortel should have 40 Gbs systems out in the next year or so. This does not necessarily mean that it will run at 160 x 40 Gbs, I actually highly doubt that will happen. Maybe 40 or so at first.
    This stuff just doesn't scale up any more is the problem. 10 Gbs will only work on 60% or so of installed fiber spans today and 40 Gbs is like 25% or so.
    Its fairly easy to make conservative engineering arguemnts in the case where the physics isn't well understood. This is the problem here.

  • I totally agree with you.

    As I said you can buy today a 160 wavelength 10 Gig system, but I doubt they have sold any.

    I'm biased too, I am working on solving phase problems with high speed systems and I think it's a bloody hard problem.

  • Is that porn is why the cost of bandwidth is falling so precipitously.

    Porn brings millions of users to the internet, which increases economies of scale, which drops the costs for everyone.

    In the computer industry, games drive CPU developement, and porn drives bandwidth. If you don't like it, then don't follow the porn links.

  • According to a book I own, fiber optics can go about tens of kilometers long. So probably more than 10 kilometers, but less than a hundred.
  • Same problem here. Attempting to do a bit of market research on this company. They do not appear to be public yet...
  • I have posted about MFNX quite a few times in the
    past 18 months, but nobody seemed interested :(
    You can find info about them here []

    Metro is primarily in the business of leasing
    dark fiber in the local loop, but they will also
    provide the services to light it, as well as
    long haul connections. While not economical
    for the individual, for businesses this is the
    way to go.

    disclaimer - i do own their stock
  • Not to mention if you switch to digital lines in your house/apartment, you'll lose the benifit of the phone compay supplying the power for the phone. They haven't found a way to send power through a digital line, so if your power goes out, so does your phone. Besides, with DSL technology, why upgrade? I am happy as long as they connect to my appartment with the good old standard copper wire.
  • bandwidth triples yearly through 2020?
  • The article says that the new company is a startup founded by a person with a different name than the founder of the current Cogen Comm. That's why I don't think they're the same company.
  • I would like to know the provider. Verio had a special a while back for a Full T1 at the "great" price of $1000/month. One problem, Verio blows.

    I just signed up with UU, and am paying around $1500/mo. I could get a cheaper connection, but you have to understand QoS ismuch more important than price when it comes right down to it for most companies with a reasonable cashflow.
  • is for companies to connect their physically wide-spread lans into a fast and cheap wan. That is, for internet access the bottleneck problem that you and everyone else are referring to is a real issue (although I'd still rather run my servers off a fiber than off a T1, especially for $1k/month).

    But, let's say I run a small-ish company with, say, 3 locations in office buildings in major cities- let's say NYC, SF, and Atlanta. At each location I have, say, 300 employees. For 3k a month I can now connect all my locations with a very high speed WAN, since they are all on the "same" backbone (and probably running some sort of VPN on top of this backbone to minimize the effect of connecting your lans over a public backbone), and I have all the bandwidth I need for running public internet servers to boot. Sounds like a good deal to me. =)

  • There is no Moore's Law for fiber.

    Yes there is. Just take a look at a chart of bandwidth price versus time(just like CPU price versus time for Moore's law) and you'll see that the exact same trend, except the slope is about 2-3 times that of Moore's law for CPU's. That means that the price of bandwidth is halving at twice the rate that cpu prices are halving, or, taken another way, bandwidth is doubling at twice the rate that CPU's are doubling.

    Now I'm not talking about how much you can get a T1 from your local Telco, I'm talking about how much it actually costs to deploy a network given current tech.

    "People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them"
  • I've tried looking for Cogent's web site, but couldn't find it. There seem to be a coupla companies with the name Cogent out there, but not the one that does this fiber stuff... Does anyone have a URL?
  • i am also a UT student, but dont live in the dorms (but the cable internet is nice here). The reason they dont block napster though, is once you hit 3Gbit outgoing traffic for the week, they shut off your port until whatever day they reset the counters.
  • UUNET is owned by MCI.

    From the t-shirt I'm wearing right now... UUNET: Am MCI/Worldcom Company

    Of course that doesn't change the fact that it's MCI who ownes more backbone, not UUNET.

    Turn on, log in, burn out...

  • Data only? 100 Mbps? Sounds like I'll have to start using DialPad.

  • Stop being hypocritical. I can think of few things that are a bigger waste of bandwidth than your above post (pokemon, btw, being one of them) Why you got moderated to 3, I don't know. My qualm is not with your views that pornography and pokemon are evil; those are just what they are - your views. My qualm is that you would be one of the first people flaming anything slashdot called 'putting down free speech' when you yourself are 'putting down free speech' by calling for a national moratorium on porn, and get modded up. In essence, you're a whore. Karma whore. Mod her down. It's not funny.
  • They should really market toward Univerities and Colleges. They'd leap at this kind of bandwidth.

    At my school, they actually have all the 100Mbps switches toggled down to 10Mbps to prevent burying the internet link.
    If they could get a few 100Mbps links, that'd make life a lot easier for the peeps in the server room.


  • You say "If you're in on of the top 25 Metropolitan Areas in N.A., you might have a fiber line within a mile or so. Outside there, well, if you've got one within 10 miles, consider yourself lucky." Yeah, that's nice. I have fiber *physically in my house* from a no-longer-in-service T1, and I *still* can't get any reasonable and affordable service. So, just having fiber nearby does not make one lucky. I wish...
  • What!!! I'm not paying that!!! Common K-Tel Gigabit TokenRing for $49.95 is where it's at!

    Seriously what good is 100Mb (unshared) gonna give you when the rest of the internet is bottle-necked in the first place? If you have good evidence against this statement please let me know.

  • It is not enough merely to be a Superior Mutant, for in the end times the hand of one OverMan may be raised against another, and he who lives by the Word of "Bob" may yet DIE by the Word of "Bob."
  • $1500 for a T1?! You're gnuts! I get mine for $750.

  • We've got a similar company up here in Vancouver BC that is starting to wire up buildings (Novus [])

    The big difference is that these guys are offering TV and cheap long distance on their wire as well. I can't wait for them to get to my building!

  • Actually, it's 10%... Of course with my superior genes, it's closer to 50% :)

    I'm so sorry to hear that you have only 20% of the brain capacity that everyone else has. Poor kid. It must be tough to only use 10% of the 20% you had from the start.
  • The phone center where I used to work had T1s on copper and fiber for voice. They were close enough to the CO to get 6Mb DSL (for 25 people). I don't know if the distance is why we had fiber T1s or not.

  • Something similar has been done in other places for one implementation check out: profiles/mimos_cp.htm

    The interesting part is where you use dark fibre and use cisco's packet over SONET and forget about tons of SDH equipment. This can make things significantly less expensive (I can't bring myself to say cheaper ;) ).

    In Cogent's case they probably would still use WDM sort of stuff because 2.5 Gbps per fibre is rather measly for USA ;).

  • by bdigit ( 132070 )
    Fiber Optics Lines Can Offer Much More
    No shit!
  • It won't go faster than itself but I imagine they'd be using a greater spectrum of light to cram more data through a fibre strand.
  • Nielsen's Law of Internet bandwidth [] states that:
    • a high-end user's connection speed grows by 50% per year
    • you don't get to use this added bandwidth to make your Web pages larger until 2003
    If you don't know who he is see his /. interview: Jakob Nielsen Answers Usability Questions []
  • If other places have connections within 10 miles, obviously someone nears to be near those cables.
  • *sigh* OK, maybe for the last time, repeat after me: "The bottleneck is not the speed of transmission. The bottleneck is the speed of modulation."

    Even if everyone in the world is using modems based on J.S. Bell's theorem (letting, in theory, communications to travel instantantously [and yes, I realize the theorem is still controversial, but that's not the pint]), we would still be limited by how fast we can interpret the data on the two ends. I think the max speed for fiber is something like 50-60GB/sec.
  • With CATV/Fiber Hybrid networks from AT&T and Time Warner, wheres that last mile problem again?
  • not everyone can pay the $15k setup fee ;)

    - Bill
  • Anyone feel like looking up how much data two strands of fibre can handle?

    The gain-bandwidth product of the erbium lasers used for repeaters is something like 1.0e11, if I remember correctly (could be way off on this). This gives a practical limit of between 1.0e11 and 1.0e12 bps without materials improvements.

    The theoretical bandwidth limit for optical carriers of any kind is the frequency of the carrier itself - somewhere in the realm of 5.0e14 Hz (for visible-light carriers). This gives a maximum theoretical data rate somewhere between 5.0e14 and (roughly) 3.0e15 bps, depending on how much power you want to dump in and how much noise is present.
  • Yes, but an attack that is *easy* to stop. The offending network provider would simply have his traffic filtered by his peers, as the source of the offending traffic.
    And where is it that cable hosts typically have 128kbps? I have several times that, as do many I have met... and what is shared bandwidth? The internet is packet switched.....
  • What's that supposed to mean, exactly?

    100Mbps back to their private network, then out to wherever? What real good is '100Mbps unshared' access to the internet, when the gateway is only a few hundred megabit at most? "Yes, we have a hundred customers on 100Mbps dedicated bandwidth".
    I know I'm nit picking.... it's just that somehow, 'unshared' and 'shared' have become buzzwords. For Christ sakes. It's a packet switched medium in the first place!
  • Not a big gun at all.
    The important part about DDoS is the first big D, standing for 'Distributed'.
    All traffic coming from one network would be *easy* to stop.

    It's when it's coming from everywhere that it's an effective attack;
  • Can you imagine if a powerful host on 100Mbps was compromised - how big of a gun that would be for DDos? If you're driving a big truck, you have to obtain a commercial driver's license.
    The ISP should not issue 100 Mbps connections to anyone not running a seriously hardened firewall.

    They should bundle one in - or have the site sign off that they have a serious solution deployed.
  • Here ya go:

    Cogent Communications []

  • Is this really worth it? I have a Mediaone (err, I mean roadrunner, I mean AT&T, I mean Verizon) cable modem and my downloads max at around 200kbyte/s. However, I hardly ever sustain 200k/s downloads, most of the time I'm around a quarter of that or less. At some point doesn't the bottleneck stop being your connection and start being the Internet as a whole? Isn't there a better solution?
  • I've been day-dreaming about bandwidth ever since I received a letter from the city of Palo Alto that I could participate in a trail, called Fiber To The Home.

    Can you imagine receiving a letter which says you can get a 100Mbit/sec Fiber link straight to your house for $190,-?

    You can read more about it here: til ities/fth/ []

    However unfortunately my area was not selected for the trail, and the project seems to be delayed (what a surprise).
  • The original article was utterly full of hyperbole, but it's not <i>quite</i> as bad as you make it sound.
    By now, the vast majority of telco central offices, even rural ones, have fiber optic connectivity. I think even hapless old VeriZontal/New England Tel has glass to their COs everywhere. BUT it rarely goes any farther. It's the local loop, to the subscriber, that's always copper. Sure, glass loops exist for businesses that require DS3+ (45Mbps) or multiple T1s, but the entry cost is indeed high.
    "Fiber to the home" was a big catch phrase a decade ago, but almost dead now. They're trying to make DSL do the job, which it often can't (because the old copper was installed for voice and more often than not can't carry DSL).
    But even then, the Cogent analysis is wrong: Telcos will bring you T1 for under $150/mo (from their CO), often much less. Its ISP fees that are higher, charges that are <i>above</i> the loop cost, and ISPs lose money as it is.
  • Several years ago, I wrote an article for a regional newspaper for residential rental property owners and managers (OnSite [], if anybody really cares). The motivation was to get some attention for a now-defunct company that was intending to market a product to that audience, but the message was that apartment complexes (and similar sites) should consider providing Internet access as a way to draw in a high-tech crowd, which could (arguably) be seen as having good income and thus could afford higher rents and/or would be more rarely delinquent on rent.

    To date, I haven't seen much progress. I've only seen one complex that boldly offered high speed Internet as part of the benefits of living there. When I was apartment hunting last Spring, the best I could do was to get (false) assurances that we could get DSL if we moved in -- not as part of the contract, but that the site was presumably ready. (After we moved in to the apartment we selected, we found out we couldn't get DSL after all... but I digress.)

    I have also tried to convince my father, who owns a rental property site with lower population density, to consider some high-tech improvements -- to no avail. He barely listens; he's already made up his mind. And from a purely economic perspective, I suppose it makes sense -- he has virtually zero vacancies and regular payments, so he doesn't "need" to offer more. I would even say he doesn't care all that much about the property, so as long as it provides an income and few enough hassles, he's not going to make any changes.

    I look forward to the day -- which may never arrive -- when rental property owners/managers do try hard to cater to technology interests. If you want to see it happen, do some "shopping around" and always ask, "Does high-speed Internet come with the apartment as part of the rental price?" As soon as they say it doesn't, respond "Ok, I'm not interested" and hang up or walk out. Note that you don't have to be really looking for a new place to live, the idea is to get them thinking.

    If we don't demonstrate the demand -- i.e., if we don't make the demand for this support -- don't expect to see it anytime soon, if ever.

  • Anyone feel like looking up how much data two strands of fibre can handle?

    And for correction's sake: they bought two strands running cross-country (for starters), and another strand elsewhere.

    Those two strands across the country, according to the article, are hooked up to Internet-only switches. That means they're not sharing voice or other data, so they can handle huge amounts of theoretical bandwidth (current use is gigabits/sec per strand, and they're claiming we're under half a percent of their possible use).

    That would let you sell 100Mb a shot pretty comfortably. Who needs more than two strands of something that carries thousands of copper lines worth of data?
  • <P>Within Ontario, Canada, <a href="">ICS</A> is helping the local Public Utilities companies to set up fibre optic networks to the door of businesses in most cities. The PUCs are laying fibre in the ground all over in those cities (Sudbury, Ottawa, Peterborough, Toronto, London, etc.) and they're able to get you high-speed Internet access where you are with very little effort.</P>

    <P>That's what we're using at <a href="">FibreSpeed</a> for our new line of integrated web application services. Gotta love those strands in that metal pipe on the ceiling.</P>
  • Within Ontario, Canada, ICS [] is helping the local Public Utilities companies to set up fibre optic networks to the door of businesses in most cities. The PUCs are laying fibre in the ground all over in those cities (Sudbury, Ottawa, Peterborough, Toronto, London, etc.) and they're able to get you high-speed Internet access where you are with very little effort.

    That's what we're using at FibreSpeed [] for our new line of integrated web application services. Gotta love those strands in that metal pipe on the ceiling.

  • UUNET has a bunch of DS3 trunks shown in their networks. That doesn't mean that they're real T3 copper coax pairs. It means they're a 45Mbps signal, which is almost always carried on fiber except for inside wiring and a few funky places where it's radio. Most long-haul fiber is OC48 (multiple wavelengths of it using DWDM), though OC192 is starting to be mature enough to for newer applications, and a T3 channel is just data riding on an OC1. Similarly, the T1 to Hong Kong wouldn't be copper under the ocean, it'd be just another 1.544 Mbps bit channel muxed into SONET, probably in a T3 or E3, though maybe the cable carrier they're using uses VT1.5 instead.

    There is real copper T1 in the phone networks, out in the last-few-miles side of things, as well as analog voice, though much of that is also carried on fiber loop carrier equipment or voice muxed onto T1s. The wires that have been used for analog phones can often be cranked up for DSL, so carry higher-speed signals on the same old crappy wire, but it's T1 or below, not T3.

    The interesting new copper out there isn't backbones, it's cable TV, which typically does hybrid fiber-coax systems - copper coax down your block, fiber networks feeding the copper, and subdividing the networks any time there's enough load to make it worth adding more fiber. On the other hand, there's also a lot of fiber direct to businesses, some of it run by cable TV companies, and some by access providers (including telcos and competitors.)

  • There's already a company called Cogent Communication [] which was founded in 1981. You'd think that a guy that comes up with startup companies would at least do a search to make sure he's not already using a name in use.
  • Just a FYI, from what I can tell, Cogent can't deliver what they are marketing.
    I had heard about them, and wanted to find out more when I was at interop. I have worked with ISPs and especially "last-mile" ISP's long enought to be excited by what they said they could offer. I am also able to ask some insightful questions from the practicial perspective.
    In speaking with them and some of thier chief officers, it became clear to me that they are a combination of a nifty business plan and cisco money.
    It could work, but at this point in time, their real business is raising capitial. They want to be first with their business model, which, BTW, didn't seem to include peering agreements. IMHO, the $100/month is just theoreticial marketing numbers.
    My bet is that they will charge $100/month for circuit, and bill for internet bandwidth usage, or maybe even a reasonable /meg charge. In any case, they will realize (when they start *really* selling) how capitial intensive the business model is, and how little they are bringing in, how expensiver engineers are, and how greedy stock holders can be.
  • They may not be able to deliver, and many businesses HAVE failed due to a inability to deliver what they promise. Failure also comes from a lack of capitolization, and a lack of talent.

    This Cisco [] press release points out how Cisco has $260 million dollars worth of faith in them.

    The Cogent founder has had 4 'successful' startups, (4 for 4, and success means they were bought by someone else), they have a group of digex staffers, have hired away Bell Labs employees (upper level lab rats) to research the preformance of the fiber eq, etc.

    (All of this is findable in public no NDA's were harmed in the making of this post)

    Failure won't be because of lack of capitolization or a lack of talent. They may not be able to deliver 100 M to your doorstep. This *lack* of ability to deliver on a promise may not kill them either. Look at the promise that is Microsoft software, and the inability of M$ to hasn't killed M$.

    Odds are, they will suffer the fate of Built out a network, were bought out, and there they are....the network growth is stalled. They buy bigger pipes, but no longer have the growth rate they used to have.

  • My place of work pays about $800/mo for a full, dedicated T1 from @work. You're crazy if you're paying $1500+.
  • 3 gigabit or gigabyte? 3 gigabit isn't much -- barely 300MB (i.e. not enough to install red-hat. 3gigabyte, on the other hand, is pretty snazzy). I'm also presuming that it's 3G in either direction... otherwise, 3Bbit of response packets isn't very bad (if you're mostly doing downloading).
  • Pacific Place Center in Vancouver, BC has fiber to the basement and ethernet to the living room... They were a prototype, (about 3-4 years old) so I'm pretty sure that there are a number of other recent developments with similar setups. (I remember about PPC because a few of my friends live there. I'm happy enough with 1.5Mb ADSL for $75/mo.
  • Seriously what good is 100Mb (unshared) gonna give you when the rest of the internet is bottle-necked in the first place?

    This sounds alot like the argument that people used when DSL lines were brand new! The fact is, if enough people get faster connections, then the major backbones are going to have to work harder(and R&D alot more) to develop faster routing.. if you build it, they will come!!

    Look at it from an apartment building's perspective. One 100MB connection is awfully fast, and if you give each tennant >=T1 speeds from their apartment, you could make quite a profit off of it.. Who wouldn't mind paying $35 a month for their share of one of these lines...

    If this was in my neighborhood, I know many other college students living near me would subscribe. Screw the rest of the internet, I don't care if pages load in .005 seconds, as opposed to .006 seconds, but if me and my friends were all in the same area, all connected to the 100MB fibers, Gaming would really kick ass. And then we wouldn't have to worry about trying to string cat5 all over the neighborhood very discreetly!!!

    If God Droppd Acid, Would he see People???

  • no.
  • The max capacity of a fiber may be essentially fixed (as other posters pointed out), but most people aren't using that capacity because they can't switch it fast enough. Since switches are made out of ICs, Moore's Law applies to them, giving an increase in the effective bandwidth over time.
  • But you just need one set of tools to do lots of splicing. A thermal splice machine costs >> 500 bux I think. About 20000 USD perhaps, but a good one with a good splicer one can splice up to 64 fibres per night. The 500 bux tool maybe a diamond cutter?!

    Maybe you are talking about those "raw" terminators (which you stick in the end of a fibre to the connector), which is not so good. Good terminators should come with its own "tail" fibre properly terminated to the SC/FC-PC connector, and the splicer's job is to splice the "tail" fibre to the incoming fibre. This way, the splice loss/reflection loss is much less.

    As an individual, you call in the cavalry! (i.e.your evil local service provider)
  • Yes, the article is hyperbole written by a media-type who does not understand the technology he/she is writing about.

    More facts :

    (a) Fibre optics is CHEAPER than copper. Why? Fiber optics is silicon (i.e. sand), copper is metal. Production of fibre is a well-developed process.

    (b) Besides, most of the Capital in installing a urban COMMs network is not in cables, but what the industry jargon call "OSP", Outside-plant. Which is just plain old digging up roads, putting in ducts and manholes, and the putting the road back in pristine condition (NOT easy) again.

    (c) Secondary cost is building repeater stations for long-haul FO cable trunks.

    (d) The reason FO has not penetrated to the "last mile" (i.e. a fibre each into each home) is because the cost of fibre modems are prohibitively expensive. (Unlikes copper network, which works off electricity, FO works off light, which means a fast-repeating laser at both ends, which means pricey electronics.)

    (e) One advantage of FO is that it enables implementation of SDH networks, where capacity is shared in a ring instead of wasted in a tree like PDH networks most POTS now run on.

  • Sigh... All the evidence I've got is that routing is *the* bottleneck at the moment. The backbone routers already have a hard time keeping up with routing a few dozen 1Gbps lines. Sure, we can make even denser use of fiber, but I'm not convinced the switching capacity is there (yet).

    Denser fiber is way cool for more or less local operations (think Video on Demand), but for what I use bandwidth for, there already is plenty to go around and the cables no longer are the bottleneck.

    Personally I'm very happy with the personal E1 I have outside of office hours. Every time I tried to assess why I wasn't maxing out the line I found it was because of poor routing (i.e., poor peering on my providers part).

  • Data services at prices like this could seriously challange big telephone networks. Why? Even though it is "data-only", that doesn't stop anyone from using VOIP. And with 100Mbps to spare, you can cram quite a lot of seperate voice channels in there, ideally. Of course, this would only be really feasible if the whole internet worked at these kinds of speeds, instead of just one fiber network.

  • I'm sure the "$1000 a month" fee is not as substantial as the fee it takes to actually hook you up to the network, as well as the equipment fees... but what if a whole apartment complex buys it? 100 tenants = 10 bucks a month (plus the installation and equip fees)... that'd be something to think about.

    Come to think of it, i'm going to graduate from college soon, anyone know where i could possibly find some apartments that are wired with T1's or T3's? I've heard of those before.

  • Only using one half of one percent of the theoretical bandwidth is not that bad. A better comparison would be current realized bandwidth : current maximum realizable bandwidth : someday maximum realizable bandwidth. Theoretical maximum bandwidth doesn't mean much. Show me the Mr. Fusion first!
  • > I have a fiber optic lamp in my room. It's cool. :|)

    I bet it only lights up 5% of the room =)

  • The biggest problem for most residential apartment buildings is the cost of wiring their building for ethernet. The second problem is that most apartment buildings don't have enough interested people willing to pay between $25 to $50 a month for internet access.

    In a building already wired for ethernet, you could provide SDSL T1 for a couple hundred bucks a month, then distribute via 24-port ethernet hub. Together the DSL router and the hub would cost under $1000 a month. All the users would require is an ethernet adapter. But that's about as cheap as you can get it.

    If your building is cabled with regular CAT3 phone lines, you could still provide broadband access using DSL within the building. The problem here is a higher cost per-user because now each requires a DSL modem or router plus ethernet card and the building requires a DSL mux. Also, now you must provide a T1 to uplink the mini-DSLAM back to your backbone router. This will drive recurring costs to $1000 a month or so depending on mileage to your POP.

    AccessLan claims to have an SDSL mini-DSLAM which could uplink via SDSL. Unfortunately, it's proprietary and only supports their DSLAM's.

    I'm working with a property manager who wants to run ethernet for his tenants to a DSL uplink. He has about 100 tenants in his building. Each tenant owns their unit, not one cost less than a million. He's having a tough time convincing his board that he can find enough interested tenants to fill a 24-port hub. He's also trying to get the cost closer to what AOL costs. (seems to be what is considered the threshold for what an average user will pay for internet)

    The majority of the population is not connected to the internet. The majority of those who are connected, do so via analog modems. And they are unwilling to pay any more for internet access. Then there is a small minority who would like to share the cost of a 100Mbps pipe. (and others who would rather have the whole thing for themselves)

    The telephone network was built on peoples need for telephones. The internet is being built on peoples need for email. Unfortunately, that need is being met in most cases by the telephone network and analog modems.
  • by spif ( 4749 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @02:39PM (#704417) Journal
    The last line of the article sums it up nicely - this is all inevitable, not revolutionary or even particularly noteworthy. Cogent, Yipes et. al. are just taking advantage of a few relatively recent developments - the increased availability and affordability of dark fiber and Gigabit Ethernet hardware, and the maturation of DWDM. There's nothing terribly proprietary about that, aside from hundreds of millions of VC dollars and vendor financing plus the balls to build a very expensive network with a relatively small (albeit potential-customer-rich) footprint in the last mile.

    Even if fiber deployment is on the way to solving the last mile problem (at least for business), it still doesn't solve the problem that really impacts the speed and reliability of internet service for most people: lack of fast, highly-distributed peering between networks. The speed of your backbone and tail circuits matters little if only a certain percentage of the entire internet is directly connected to them, unless you also have fast peering with other networks wherever possible. If there are dozens of "OC-192-or-greater-per-wavelength on DWDM on dark fiber" backbones, with Ethernet (regular, Fast and Gigabit) tails, each of which has only maybe a handful of OC-3 or even OC-12 peering connections to most of the others, the problem will still not be solved. If anything, it will get worse, because the users with faster last miles attached to faster backbones will expect proportionally faster service, and they won't get it.

    There are people working to solve this problem, in various ways - running neutral peering facilities, aggressively seeking peering arrangements (although mostly in a few locations, unfortunately), buying lots of transit bandwidth from major providers (again, mostly in a few locations), etc. There are only a few who are truly solving the distribution aspect of the problem, though, by obtaining peering and transit connections to other networks in many locations evenly distributed around the country, in a mostly rational and consistent manner based on traffic analysis and other factors.

    This is only one step in building a public internet infrastructure we can all depend on, but it is a crucial one.

  • by paled ( 22916 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @02:29PM (#704418)
    new Linux release out - time to grab an .iso:

    100 Mbps / 8 bits/byte / 1024/1024 = 11.9 MB/sec

    so for 50% utilization - figure 6 MB/sec

    654 MB
    ------ = 109 seconds.
    6 MB/sec

    I'm going to need a faster CDROM burner.

    Seriously - I still think that snail-mailing the latest Linux distro is a more efficient use of (very limited) resources than each person downloading their own .iso.

    BUT - (Anne Marie) - its not up to me (or anyone else) to determine how people use THEIR Internet connection. The ISP can certainly cache content locally, thus only impacting other users on that part of the network when they access something that's bandwidth intensive. If the user is complying with the TERMS OF SERVICE of their user agreement, then it doesn't matter if they look at goat pr0n 24 x 7 x 365 - as long as it isn't kiddie goat pr0n.

    Don't impose your morals on something that is Amoral - how people user their Internet connection.
  • by fjordboy ( 169716 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @02:43PM (#704419) Homepage
    I have been saying this for a while, but people like me, who live out in the stix...aren't helped at all by these companies that are loading the internet with highbandwidth connections. Almost all of these new pipes and stuff are only available in large cities. I can't even get cable where I live, and the phonelines are old and not capable of dsl or anything. What would really impress me is a company that sets out to give country folk a connection to the internet. I get 36k on a good day....

    Some people say that this will never happen because there isn't enough people living out here to make it economically viable, but I disagree. One satellite dish or something set on a mountain nearby could connect people within a 30 mile radius of me. That is a lot of people...and I know most of them would jump at the chance of getting high speed internet access. I would be willing to pay more than $100 a month for a good connection. Trout Run Pennsylvania needs broadband. :) Thanks for listening to my rant. erm..reading even.

  • by trims ( 10010 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @05:43PM (#704420) Homepage

    After looking at all these replies, I thought I'd reply myself.

    Some notes:

    • For you British (and non-USA folks), you may not quite be aware of the size of the USA. Excluding Alaska and Hawaii, the population density of the USA is about 85 people/sq mile. For comparison, the U.K. (England, Scotland, Wales) has a density of 630.
    • To most metropolitan areas (i.e. 100,000+ in the MSA according to the Census Bureau) in the US, there is at least one fiber trunk. Big places like the top 10 MSAs (NYC, LA, SF, Chicago) there are probably a dozen.

      If you live near one of these trunks, well, happy for you. However, remember than less than 50% of the US population lives inside one of the top 100 urban areas.

    • Some cities (particularly those in the North) are replacing existing copper with fiber as part of the normal maintenance cycle. However, in much of the warm parts of the country, where the existing physical plant needs little maintenance, it's never replaced short of a big disaster ( Hurricane Andrew in Miami is a good example).
    • Even hybrid Fiber/Copper layouts like the Cable Modem setups usually only bring fiber into the equivalent of the local CO - that is, fiber-to-the-neighborhood; the average distance from CO to house in a US city is well over a mile (remember, not as-the-crow-flies, but as-strung-through-the-pipes).

    The real challenge is not the big urban areas - they can (and probably will) get fiber-to-the-curb within 10 years at the worst case. The challenge is getting it to the 30-40% of the USA that live in sub-100,000 urban areas, and even worse, the 10% or so that are classified rural.

    It's the same problem the USA faced with electrification in the 1920s and 1930s. Only now, it's worse, since a far, far smaller percentage of the population lives in the harder-to-wire areas, there is even less of an incentive to fiber them up.

    I can use my home town as an example: Meadville,PA [], population 15,000. It's easily 40 miles to the nearest city which would have a fiber trunk into it, and while the town might eventually have fiber as part of the Cable Modem rollout, it's certainly not going to be fiber-to-the-curb, and the cable modem rollout will miss the other 70,000 people who live in the county (which is rather rural). Population density for my county: 82 people/sq mile.


  • by trims ( 10010 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @01:53PM (#704421) Homepage

    (to paraphase the old "it's the economy, stupid" catchphrase of the last election...)

    The article is plain wrong on several points, and makes naive and/or inane assumptions on several others.

    First off, virtually all the long-distance communication wires in the US & Canada are fibre. Both voice and data travel over fiber (NOT copper) for about 99% of all inter-metropolitan traffic. Yet that fibre represents less than 10% (I forget the exact number, but it's less than 10%) of the entire physical communications plant in North America. The reason this is all fiber now is that it was by far the cheapest, easiest, and quickest return on investment portion of the network to upgrade. The article completely ignores the fact that the other 90+% of the network is extremely costly and time-consuming to replace with fiber and has a much, much, much longer ROI.

    In places like Manhattan, where there is extremely high population density and communications demand, yes, fiber has been laid along (some) streets, and it is possible to put out a direct fiber lead to a large building that goes directly to a fiber line. If you're in on of the top 25 Metropolitan Areas in N.A., you might have a fiber line within a mile or so. Outside there, well, if you've got one within 10 miles, consider yourself lucky.

    The problem still remains getting high-speed communications to places that don't astronomical population density. It's a hard problem, and condemning companies that provide more-or-less universal access for using copper is moronic. Cogent might be able to offer access to what, maybe 5% of the population? Compare this with WorldCom, the ILECs, MCI, and Earthlink, and all the other big ISPs, who can probably get between 95 and 99% of the entire population.

    I also love the part where they seem to think that building their own long-distance backbone instead of using others is a panacea for network conjestion. Someone need to explain the concept of Peering and Wide-Area routing to these folks. Sure, it's nice if both the source and destination are plugged directly into your backbone, but the odds of this are what, virtually nill? If you want some real benefit from your own backbone, you have to connect directly with the majority of sites people want to access. In this case, you better beg Above.Net, Exodus, GlobalCenter, Genuity, et al. (all the big co-lo people) to allow you to run a line into all their co-lo sites. Oh, and since you're a small player, don't think that these folks aren't going to charge you for the privilege of hooking into their co-lo.

    The other thing I find stupid is the implication that only Cogent has a "data-optimized" network. What a load of Marketing BS. If I'm running a packet-switched network, can I tell what I'm running on top of it (well, with ATM technically you can, but it's really all data)? Data? Voice-over-IP? Streaming Video? The article seems to confuse the concepts of packet-switched vs. circuit-switched with "data-optimized" vs. "voice-optimized".

    Anyway, I'm sure others are going to point the myriad of crap in this article, so I'll stop here.

    Cogent is offering a nice service, and has some interesting features that may point the way to how communications are done in the future. They're not really innovative in any sense, and I certainly wouldn't think of them as the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's an interesting company, and I wish them will. But the hype level is just a tad too high here.


  • by SETY ( 46845 ) on Sunday October 15, 2000 @01:39PM (#704422)
    There is no Moore's Law for fiber. I don't know where this guys source is, but the amount of data going down a fiber isn't going to double every 10 months. There are many new problems cropping up the faster you go. They just aren't easy to solve (basic physics).The polarization of the light as it travels down the fiber isn't understood.
    And saying we are at .5% of the theoretical fiber capacity is great and all. The space shuttle also travels way less than the theoretical speed (c, the speed of light).
    I'd put my money into optical parts being made cheaper. I wouldn't put my money on the amount of data through a fiber doubling every 10 months.

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.