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Making Last-Mile Ethernet A Reality 113

vannevar writes: "Is that erbium-doped fiber you're smoking, or are those bandwidth crack-heads in the Ethernet First Mile Study Group turning up GigE fiber to the garage? Of course, no good deed or innovation goes unpunished, but at least someone is busting knuckles, carpal tunnels, wallets, and reputations to make Gigabit Ethernet To The Home a reality." You may remember this earlier mention of the same concept, but rather than just ideas and proposals, here are pretty pictures and delivery speeds that might even make non-Californians want to relocate.
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Making Last-Mile Ethernet A Reality

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  • I live in Springville, UT. I still have the service. Rock solid reliable and aewsome speed.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    McLeodUSA ATS has been offering Ethernet with speeds from 256Kb up to 7192Kb to the businesses on their fiber-optic network for the last year and a half. Prices on it are unbelievably low. (Like 7Mb connections for less than a T1 would cost from anybody else.) Too bad they aren't taking any more customer right now due to capital being restricted. :-( The customers that have it that I've spoken with absolutely love it. They're using Alcatel Litespan equipment to do it.
  • Hmm, 67 months with timeframes like that you are never going to get it. Maybe the acronym should be NOPE.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • Freedom To Surf [] are offering gigabit connections in the UK (last time I asked, it was only available in central London, but no doubt the area will increase over time). The thing that really surprised me was how cheap it was. No, it's not within the reach of the average home user yet, but a reasonable sized business can now afford true gigabit internet access.
  • Don't worry, it isn't that much better in my area of Southern California. In the last two years Verizon(ex-GTE) hasn't done a damned thing to improve there DSL service. So, at 16000ft I still can't get DSL from them. Then, ATT bought TCI, then sold the my local cable to Adelphia, and they haven't done a damned thing to get cable internet access going in the last year.

    About the only company trying to get broadband to everyone is Earthlink. Now that they offer DSL, Cable, Sattelite, and Wireless, you have to figure they can offer high speed internet to just about anyone.

  • How about stringing that very delicate fiber over long distances? What about when there are breaks? Fiber is almost impossible to put back together from two ends, as it has to be 1/4 wavelength+ or scattering will result in an increased error ratio.

    You've obviously never heard of a fiber splice before, have you? Have you ever heard of a fusion splicer? You can actually make a pretty good mechanical splice, too. Yes, there's a dB loss, but there always is. It's not that big a deal.
  • World Wide Packets []


  • by daviddennis ( 10926 ) <> on Monday June 18, 2001 @07:59AM (#143612) Homepage
    I checked out a whole bunch of fuzzy pictures of what looks like a rather drab neighborhood, but couldn't find anything about how they did it or how much it cost.

    I can hardly blame them for being self-congratulatory in tone - they deserve it, surely - but some explanation of how they did it seems to be in order for those of us who would just love to do likewise.

    As others have quite rightly said, the fact that their server survives a slashdotting is pretty impressive. I see they even have video! Now is that cheeky or what, even if the Linux system I have at work can't handle it :-(.

    So tell me, how was this done? What's the history? Something like JWZ's DNA Lounge chronicle would seem to be in order, and I couldn't find it. Can some kind soul point me to that?


    (who lives in Los Angeles and is stuck with iDSL :-( ).
  • Uncompressed HDTV runs at 1.5 gbps, and even that isn't good enough to match the resolution of 35mm film.
  • Back in the 60's entire neighborhoods got together to buy a big tower and put antennas up high with nice amps. then they connected that block or neighborhood's homes (the ones that helped to fund the project) to it for better reception. Everyone paid a fee to sustain the equipment and all was happy.

    Why doesn't this happen today for ethernet? Basic 100BaseTX can support a neighborhood easily. but herein lies the problem... When Mr Lawyer down the street get his computer Hacked he instantly sues everyone within view of his home because he was a moron and didn't have a firewall or properly secure his box. Voila, the neighborhood net is now dead because of one a-hole lawyer or other type of idiot. Solution? you have to be a corperation to do this.. Now you have to get neighbors to give you land to run your cables,install tech boxes (basically waterproof boxes with a switch inside) etc... now you are a company, the city wants a piece of your action, and regulate you..... to death..... why? because those morons you voted for dont know jack about computing or networking... so they want to call you either a phone company or cable tv company (you are nither but they could care less... they want moola from you)

    Basically... you can do it, only if you overthrow your local government or own a huge plot of land and subdivide it having this infrastructure in before you sell the plots (then they cant do a damned thing to "regulate" you.)

    Hard part - fine me one cable company that sells direct burial CAT-6E... it don't exist.

    sorry if I am rambling, but they didnt do anything revolutionary, they just copied what many did in the 60's.
  • At this point, it is not ecomical to run ADSL at full rate. The hardware can run at 7Mbps, but actual service plans cap that to 1.5Mps (if you are lucky). Further, it is unusual to see close to 1.5Mhps performance in real life.

    So what would fiber buy you? $$$$ price. 10x the theoretical bandwidth. And no change in actual performance.
  • And when you got this 1Gb what are you going to do with it, most ppl can't even configure their PCs correctly to supply a steady 100Mb feed, yet alone receive. It is very hard to fill up a Gb, today atleast but it will probably get easier every year. The problem is that to get it you have to fit some (rigorous) requirements and pay $1.500-$3000 per quarter, (which is the fee to lease the fiber to your home) and it is a all Cisco network so you have to buy some VERY expensive equipment. I mean a singlemode fiber module cost $200-$900, and then you need the switch etc. etc. etc.
  • by cindy ( 19345 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @07:29AM (#143617)
    Hmmm. Palo Alto, huh?
    Wake me up when they do this in East Palo Alto.
  • by the_tsi ( 19767 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @08:17AM (#143618)
    As if content providers didn't have enough problem
    s as it is, with hits coming in at innundating rates, imagine what they'll have to do when the limiting factor on all data transactions becomes the bandwidth of their hard drives and memory in the servers? I mean, "last mile ethernet" may sound great, but who's going to upgrade the backbones to multiple OC-4098 circuits to handle the new traffic? And what do the providers do once they've spent their entire start up capital on their own gigabit connection (you know, something with more QoS than Ethernet and therefore a higher pricetag) just so people don't bitch about their service being slow?

    It's a double-edged sword. Rapidly increasing the bandwidth at the fringes of the Internet instead of the core is going to cause some serious problems and side-effects.

    ...More Powerful than Otto Preminger...
  • Sorry, they've torn down EPA to make room for the Home Depot, IIRC some hotels, and other stores (that mostly cater to the rich folks on the other side of the freeway). The new houses they're building in the area are going for $500-$600+.

    There is still some "affordable" housing in the area (mobile home parks, etc.) but don't expect it to last long.
  • Does anyone else think it's funny that California will soon have broadband this fast to a pc that might even have *electricity*

    Just a thought ;-)

  • I found out why they think everyone needs gigabit ethernet to their garage, take a look at the image sizes on that homepage. If they just took the time to find out about this new format jpg that everyone's been talking about, I think they'd be just fine with dialup.
  • The local electric utility buried 1000baseFX loops under the street here. You can get 5, 10 or 100Mbit tap-offs (even the 100 is cheaper than a t1)

    They also run digital cable-tv over it too.
  • So? Maybe then content providers will concentrate on building efficients sites as opposed to making screen sized GIFs so that they can get "just the right look" in IE.

    Second, if everyone has a fast connection, that does not necessarily lead to a server getting hit more often. What it will mean is that a person can get in and out faster. This leads to shorter queues. It is possible that a faster connection can lead to a more efficient web farm, since there will be fewer request sitting in an output queue waiting on an ACK so that it can send more packets.

    Of course, in the real world, a faster connection means that I can and will look at more things in a set time period. But if I served 1000 customers/hr all using modems, and then everyone switched to OC-48 overnight, I most likely will still only server 1000 customers/hr.

  • My cable modem service is just fine, D/L wise. What I want is the ability to run servers (legally). I want to publish, damnit (on my own machines - sure, Hurricane Electric is a nice hosting company, but I would rather have the DNS pointing to my server, rather than someone else's - and I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for the "privilege")...

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • I sat on my bed at University, closed my eyes, and dreamed about a 3d world in which I and 10-20 people played highly realistic real-time simulations.
    Show me one university student who hasn't done exactly the same thing.

    Last nite I played Counter Strike for 4 hours with 31 other people.
    Oh, you mean they were clothed. Never mind.

  • by mjh ( 57755 ) <mark.hornclan@com> on Monday June 18, 2001 @08:12AM (#143626) Homepage Journal
    While I would be one of the people who would try and sign up for this service, if it were available at my house, I find myself frustrated by their literature comparing the relative speeds of DSL, Cable Modem, etc. The comparo is here []

    This guy does a naptser download to compare the relative speeds of DSL, Cable and GigE to the house. While I agree with the basic conclusions (that symetric is going to be better than asymetric, and that GigE will be faster), some of the things he says stretches credibilty, and for obvious reasons.

    It's just *NOT* a good test to use Napster as a mechanism for determing the relative speed of a first mile infrastructure. Or for that matter, any internet connected service. There are WAY too many variables in between me and the end site that I'm connected to on the Internet to be able to say that the underlying first mile infras is the problem. In particular the remote site may have an over subscription problem. Or the available internet bandwidth (beyond the first mile) may not be sufficient. NONE of these type of problems indicate anything about the capabilities of the first mile infrastructure.

    If you want good tests for the first mile, stick a server on the other end of the first mile and do bandwidth tests to that. Otherwise, it's just useless hype, and it doesn't really tell you anything. The conclusion that a DSL or Cable modem really doesn't offer any speed advantages over a regular modem is just plain wrong.

    That page, with its gross inaccuracies, would make me skeptical, as a customer as to whether or not anything provided by this organization would be reliable.


  • I'm still out of luck. Since I could never afford to move to California, does that mean I'm stuck with sub-par 28.8 dialup, which is usually the max speed the ISPs here (southern maryland) can provide? I cant understand why larger companies cant have just a bit of initiative and work on stuff like this elsewhere. I would pay quite a bit to get some decent speed in my connection, and I know a lot of people around here that would too. But, of course, there is only one-way cable everywhere, and apparently our all-copper cabled county has fiber feeding it or something so DSL only happens if you are a business. It really bothers me that a business .25 miles from my house can get DSL with ease, and I'm still told it doesnt exist in my area...

    Ah well, I'm stuck at work and bitter, so I'm just rambling...
  • Actually, its more in reference to insane gas prices and me being stuck at college for several years if I hope to obtain a decent job.
  • welll is doing it in Milan and many other major italian cities.
    I am linked with a 10Mb ethernet since last august.....

    is this news?

  • T3 Connection to the Internet: $26,000 a month
    Terabyte disk array: $20,000
    Largest collection of live goat porn the world has ever seen: Priceless.
  • It probably got tossed in the bit bucket the same time half the companies in Palo Alto lost their VC and went belly up []. Silicon Valley's tax base is a tad smaller than it was 2 years ago.

  • by artemis67 ( 93453 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @07:32AM (#143632)
    I got gigabit ethernet to my home!

    Now if only I had some fricken power to run my computer...

  • And what do the providers do once they've spent their entire start up capital on their own gigabit connection (you know, something with more QoS than Ethernet and therefore a higher pricetag) just so people don't bitch about their service being slow?

    You hit the nail on the head in part here. You can keep adding and adding bandwidth, but your still going to have some of the same old problems you always did because of IP. IP packets get sent along and bounce through routers in a way known as "best effort". Meaning that some packets may get there before others, or may not. What is really needed is mass implementation of some of the new Qos protocols like MPLS. Then we can actaully take advantage of the bandwidth.

  • I'm not saying it won't be needed, of course, it will be eventually, and maybe the apps are just waiting for the service, but I'd see it as being a year or two off before there's really any sort of serious demand for this kind of speed. That's all I was saying.

  • Without solving the last mile problem we can't evolve to the next generation systems that could be possible. Now everything you do is constrained by bandwidth to the home. I don't know if this is the solution, but we need it solved, much like the US highway system paved the way for vast increases in growth.

    Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. The solution is needed, but I just don't see the widespread need anytime soon (next year or two), and maybe that's the kind of time they'd need to get it ready for "prime time".

    There's a big problem, because all the backbone providers spent tons of money building up infrastructure for bandwidth that, in the end, couldn't be supplied to enough home users at a high-enough speed. We've got all these fat backbones waiting for either more users or faster connections to the home. Unforunately for many of these companies, it was a matter of bad timing and cost them dearly, financially.

  • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @07:55AM (#143636)
    Yeah, it's cool but honestly, do we really need it? I guess for on-demand TV and that kind of stuff, maybe, but I see the applications as pretty limited. Let's face it: 90% of internet users out there right now, given this kind of technology, would only use it for faster downloads of music and movies. I don't see it as really being much of a necessity. I'm a heavy duty internet user and my shared DSL connection at work and my cable modem at home, are more than sufficient for my needs, even when I am downloading entire movies ;-)

    I'm no knocking it and honestly, I'd probably get it 'cause I'm a geek, but do I really need it? It looks like a technology waiting for a purpose.

  • Consider the two things that increase (for example) a web site's bandwidth requirements:

    1. The amount of data the site itself pushes out to its users. This is directly under control of the site administrator. Keep your site light, and you don't have to worry about pushing huge amounts of data out.
    2. The number of requests that come in. This is indirectly under your control (if your site sucks, there won't be many requests, no matter how many people out there have ethernet). But more importantly, this increases as function of the number of people on the net, and not as a function of how much capacity those users have. It takes the same amount of bandwidth to send an HTTP request on ethernet as it does on 28.8.

    All of which points to the conclusion that ethernet for your average user isn't going to hammer the infrastructure too badly. Some upgrades will obviously be required, but demand isn't going to just explode to eat up the new supply.


  • Yeah...even funnier tho is the fact that they've got all the bandwidth in the world and not enough power to keep their computers running long enough to enjoy it!
  • My cable company (AT&T - formerly TCI) ran a second coax to every house. This gives bandwidth galore. I have seen speeds of 6 Mb/s which would probably go higher if my modem connected to my ethernet card at 100Mb/s rather than 10.

  • If the cable service is crammed up with all kinds of services, then most companies cannot allocate the full 8 Mhz (7.8.. crose enough!) channel for a cable modem.

    Also, with the *shared bandwidth* it is possible to have VLANs on different channels, given enough bandwidth.

    In any event, I have certainly not experienced this much bandwidth from any other cable or DSL service. If you can explain how my friends can get their cable co to allocate this kind of speed for them on a single pipe then I am sure they would appreciate it.
  • Referring to downstream speed, I have measured 6Mb/s actual download speed. I have done this with both Windows 2000's Network Monitor and other 3rd party utilities.

    Before you try to insult someone, please learn how to spell. It makes you sound less ignorant.

  • Well, it can give you some of the abilities I originally envisioned for high-speed connections: broadcasting television (well, multi-casting), radio stations, super-fast transfers of media files, entire libraries. Live video feeds from GOOD video cameras. Videophones ditto. Needless to say, the Guvmint, lawyers, the MPAA, RIAA, radio and TV stations, you name 'em, are NOT going to like such capabilities! Especially if the streams are encrypted. Oh my aching legal bill.

  • In a state that is baking under intense sunlight, it should be rather obvious that solar should be on the fast track over there. I wonder if now, after the distributors and sellers have cleaned their collective Golden State pockets in the Great Robbery of 2001, that Californians might view a power array on their roofs to be a REALLY COOL thing to have from now on.

  • Waaah! I don't WANT a giant ISP value-adding expensive junk on my bill. I just want to share a set of high-speed lines within a co-op, let's say.

    Sigh. Our laws will never let this happen, will they. Liability for copyright infringement, city guvmint wanting a piece of the pie.

    Is it possible a quiet co-op could build such a thing without attracting the attention of the whole mad legal world? Why not maintain our own file servers? Probably not possible. Too many possible lawsuits, for just about everything. Not to mention angry ISPs wanting those interlopers made an example.

  • Here's a thought: how far along would our economy now be, if every mile of the interstate highway system built in the last fifty years, and every single street and alley upgraded to asphalt in the last hundred, had to be paid for by for-profit companies? Think about it: how long would it have taken for Nevada to be in the system? Alaska? How expensive would it have been for the drivers if every road was a toll road?

    I only mention this because of the obvious analogy to how the high-speed infrastructure is being built-up in the U.S. Slow, expensive, and every mile must be justified by shown profit. This is going to take forever.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @09:43AM (#143646) Homepage
    The City of Palo Alto Utilities Department offers fibre to the home [] in parts of Palo Alto now. The city just leases dark fibre; there are ISPs that offer Internet and voice connections over it.
  • I find myself frustrated by their literature comparing the relative speeds of DSL, Cable Modem, etc.

    Me too. For one, the use of Napster as a benchmark is laughable, as the referenced post mentioned.

    As many slashdot users probably know, another problem with comparing Cable with DSL is that bandwidth is almost completely dependent on the provider. Granted, for most heavy-bandwidth and low-latency applications symmetric service is preferable (straight out web surfing and Napster leeching aside). So certainly look for a provider that provides symmetric service (I have found that these also tend to be more oriented towards people who like to *use* their bandwidth, none of the classic Verizon DSL uptime of about 15 days/month).

    In my area, cable modems are just plain *faster* than DSL. None of this balogna about "if you hav a lot of people accessing in your neighborhood...". This is because we have AT&T Broadband for a cable provider and Verizon for a DSL provider. With my cable connection I get downloads comparable to a T1 and uploads of about half that (give or take). However, the uploads are fast enough that I do not have to worry about having an asymmetric connection, because 1/2 of An Awful Lot is still A Lot.

    So okay, I believe that these folks got the speeds they posted, and obviously having Gigabit Ethernet is superior, but Your Mileage May Vary to the point where you get oppposite results.

  • Give us your poor...

    'Guess we'll have to move Lady Liberty to the Other Coast.
  • I think the possibility of Video over IP is exactly the whole point.

    Now, if they'd just drop the price on that 51" flat screen monitor...
  • In light of the new SOAP protocol, I think calling it "Network of Optical Passive Ethernet" would have been even better. Then we could have fun saying that we can do SOAP over NOPE (via ROPE [], too!).

  • It's a double-edged sword. Rapidly increasing the bandwidth at the fringes of the Internet instead of the core is going to cause some serious problems and side-effects.

    Sounds like a good justification for P2P.
  • I get the impression they're trying to impress people ("look at that cool network diagram") without giving away any "proprietary and confidential" information (look at the lower right corner).
  • Yes, that's what I was talking about.. Between you & your neighbors, and maybe the rest of the city, you can get excellent performance through a good switched structure.

    But, if you are downloading a linux ISO image at 1Gbps, and 10 of your neighbors are doing the same, the upstream pipe needs to be > 11Gbps. That's why I said 'the aggregate bandwidth'.

    Even if the provider is running an OC-192 HUGE pipe to the Internet, eventually it will get saturated, and maybe you can only download the CD image at a paultry 100Mbps or so.

    With the local environment more able to scale to providing everyone bandwidth approaching 1Gbps, there is a big opportunity metropolitan area applications and services.

  • With GigE to the home, the aggregate bandwidth in the network core would obviously not scale. So, real throughput would be something quite a bit less than gigabit. However, if you are staying in your region, you could get speeds near gigabit levels. Shared resources, like neighborhood file servers would be easily done. This could be another opportunity for the ISP providing these big pipes. Phone service would take an extremely small fraction of this big pipe.. And, TV services would be no problem. All the standard channels could be multicast to everyone. A whole library of video on demand is also achievable. Even at HDTV resolutions, it only takes 20Mbps/channel.
  • HDTV, as broadcast over the air today, uses an MPEG2 video stream at approximately 20Mbps. The compression ratio I have seen quoted for HDTV broadcasts is somewhere around 55 to 1.

    That sounds like a lot, but the proof is in the output.. 1080i HDTV looks incredible. It blows away DVD's.

    Check out the Digital TV "crash course" on the PBS web site for a lot better info than I can provide: []

  • With the letters E, P, O and N they could have at least been OPEN (Optical Passive Ethernet Network), or more sinisterly PEON. This may have highlighted that an ethernet network is kind of a tautology.

    Of course this minor whinging is down to the fact that my Locale's c-time (time for Californian Innovations to be on offer) is about 67 months. And that is only until BT screw you

  • I knew I was on dangerous ground when I was thinking of kind of a tautology. And I take my hat off to you for that fine word which I admit to having to look up. Here is the definition from, which is bordering very closely as an example of the word it defines:

    the use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense (as in the man he said)

    A phrase I will have to remember next time I'm in an all day meeting with the PHBs. Although I think the meaning is more to do with redundancy than self contradiction and meaningless filler

  • Ever heard of a little Canadian company called Nortel networks? Ever wonder why their stock price went from around $100 to $8.52 (today's closing price)? It's because they sold a shitload of optical networking equipment, and now no one is interested in buying any more. According to the Globe and Mail [], the telecomm companies have tons of unused capacity. I can't find the specific article, but I remember something like 1/3 utilization, perhaps even lower. Companies the world over, especially Nortel, are praying for anything that will make customers start to suck up bandwidth, so that the telecomms will start to buy equipment again.
  • at the very least, it would make running X11 apps over a WAN connection useable.

    I have to ssh to my company (from home), then hop to 2 other nodes (all with ssh), until finally I end up at my desk linux box. I then start netscrape (or even vmware...) and in a few minutes the X11 connection appears and I'm able to do those visual things that can't be done with emacs, tin and elm.

    of course bandwidth and network latency are not always hand in hand. I'd usually trade some extra b/w for shorter latency; especially when doing interactive things (eg, keystrokes) over the net.



    Doesn't really cut it. I can't make heads or tales out of that, especially when the text on the labels is 1 pixel tall. I would really like to see a good diagram or read some detailed specs.
  • Any idea what their upstream connections are? With a *neighborhood* of gigE, I would imagine they would have at least a pair of OC3s (from two different providers), probably a pair of OC12s. Unless it's paid for by some grant, that can't be cheap, even if they had 1000 customers. More details would sure be interesting.
  • How do you figure 20Mbps/channel without the picture looking like ass?

    HDTV (1080i) = 1920*1080*16bitcolor*30fps = 9.4x10^8 bits/sec = 940 Mbit/sec uncompressed for the video alone. Ignoring audio, that's going to require 47:1 compression. Even DiVX won't be able to compress that well and still make the image look good, at least not on an HDTV. Still need to figure in the thruput required to transport the dolby digital or dts sound as well, I don't know how well they compress.

    Sure, it's a tradeoff, but if I bought an HDTV or high-res projector for my PC, I'm not going to want to stream crap video through it, regardless of the cost.
  • I love those those two emachines boxes under that monitor...
  • ...I was using an Apple IIe that 'just worked'. No silly OS to worry about, no silly drivers or incompatibilities. Adding an 80-column card or a Grappler serial card never brought about problems. I wrote all of my undergrad papers on that thing and not once did AppleWorks fail to do its job. Even the BeagleBrothers TimeOut addons worked without a hitch. My games -- granted they were on different floppies with thier own OSes -- worked fine and no amount of gaming weakened the stability of my system.

    I wish modern computers were even 1/4 as reliable and stable as that old Apple IIe. If there was an easy way to open Word and Excel files as well as interface the thing to my color inkjet printer and use different fonts, I would probably continue to use it. Over the 7 years I heavily used that machine, the only problem I ever encoundered was the lousey spacebar, I had to reseat the little metal support about once a year.

    A heardy thank you to the Woz for creating such a delightful series of machines.
  • Interesting thread.

    I was lucky enough to spend some time working with digital video at SGI (Silicon Graphics) earlier this year. Quite an education. One thing that I had overlooked was that compressed video has to come from somewhere... and SGI had that somewhere on Octane2 workstations. I belive 1080i was between 124 MByte/sec and 248 MByte/sec depending on the bitdepth (2, 3, or 4 bytes per pixel -- the film industry loves 4 byte / 48 bit color). To even play back uncompressed 1080i video required three channels of fibrechannel disk arrays attached to the workstation. Overkill, perhaps, but the machine handled the huge uncompressed video like a modern PC can handle a 320x240@15fps AVI.

    MPEG2 compresses digital video very well and depending on the settings used, 1080 can be done with not much more thruput (bandwidth) than 720 or even 480. But belive me, an uncompressed digital version of a film digitized to 1080p/24Hz is a sight to be seen, especially on a Sony HD studio monitor. Without compression, "HDTV" really shines but the ungodly amounts of disk space required don't make it worthwhile with current consumer technology. Uncompressed video is beautiful, compressed video (when done right) is still *very* good.

    I don't know about the thruput of streaming digital video, but based on my limited knowledge of MPEG2 and the various flavors of HD digital video would lead me to belive that 1080i at 20Mbit/sec would certainly be obtainable. I'm not sure about the audio, though, especially if it's to be played on a high-quality 5 or 6 channel system.

    As far as the term "HDTV", you won't hear it used much outside of marketing circles. It's sort of like saying "computer" rather than "1.4 GHz Athlon running Linux" or "833 MHz Alpha running Tru64". HDTV is a vague consumer term.

    The folks in that Palo Alto neighborhood had better upgrade their TVs/monitors/projectors! Very cool stuff indeed.

  • It's no longer East Palo Alto, they changed the name to Ravenswood
  • I remember a proposal to get 100MB connections to the home in Palo Alto, subsidized by the dity as a pilot project. Whatever happened to that?
  • Newsflash - EPA is being gentrified. Within fifteen years all the low income residents will be gone. Anyone looking to gamble on Bay Area real estate is buying up lots in EPA now...they're already fetching $500k and up.
  • My current boss has it. They are in most of Utah county now and yes they are still coneected but last I talked to him not taking new people. I've been hoping for years they would make it to the SLC area but now it looks like they won't. :(
  • a long time
  • Surely that's a pleonasm rather than a full blown tautology.
  • Ummm that second coax doesn't give you any extra bandwidth, it's there to give you a clean signal to you cable modem. I guess they were having issues with dirty lines giving the install techs issues.
  • Unfortunately, Airswitch has changed to private IPs for customers, with the option of getting a public address forwarded back to your private one. They have also instituted many new regulations that their customers must follow, like bandwidth limits and limits on servers. I know quite a few people who have had the service in the past and have since left it due to the changes. The network was also starting to get congested.

  • Here's some more information on "The Big Dig". Scroll down to "Also known as" and don't forget to read some user reviews: []
  • Hmmmmm. something seems to have gone wrong.

    I checked out and they have changed their name to switchpoint, and there is absolutely no information on the service or for ordering. They seem to have transitioned into a "technology" company, only interested in licensing their system to someone who actually feels like implementing it. Lame. I wonder if their (former?)subscribers in Springville UT are still connected?

    Lame. Lame. Lame.
  • by xWakawaka ( 187814 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @07:32AM (#143676)
    Indeed! Airswitch (bad name for an ethernet to the curb company) has had 100mb right to your house in a small town in Utah for many months now. My former boss, who had the service, described the upstream (beyond the ethernet segment) bandwidth in terms that make me shudder. T3 type speeds common to fast servers around the net. It was cheap too! Less than DSL. And he got static IPs.

    It was heaven, with fries, biggie sized.
  • by sulli ( 195030 )
    is the most appropriate one, since it also neatly summarizes the availability for most users.
  • ... when you don't have power to run your computers?
  • by wmulvihillDxR ( 212915 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @07:56AM (#143679) Homepage Journal
    What saddens me is that although advances like this are made and some markets get a really fast connection to the Internet, there will always be more apps that come along and suck that bandwidth down. For instance, what would happen if everyone got the 1000Mbit connection to their doorstep? After downloading all the porn ever created,what will people use the bandwidth for? Yeah it would kick ass to play Q3A or Tribes 2 on the network with very low ping times, but what's to prevent another game or application (like Video over IP or something) to come along that stresses even this network?

    I suppose we will all eventually have these kind of connections, but by the time it reaches my little community, it will be slow relative to the applications out at the time.
  • by BlowCat ( 216402 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @07:33AM (#143680)
    delivery speeds that might even make non-Californians want to relocate.
    Does it apply to the Europeans too? Imagine boats full of geeks heading to the American coast in search for better bandwidth!
  • You're talking like a telco. I am shocked to see people agreeing with you on /. of all places.

    Big pipes make things possible. Really neat things. Things like live worldwide videoconferencing.

    Things which aren't possible now because too many people you want to connect to are on 56K or less.

    Admittedly, getting people DSL would solve much of this problem. But really: in many ways ethernet cable is easier to lay in than to retrofit old-style telco/cable networks with tcp/ip capabilities.

    I think it would be fine to just give everyone a 10/100 drop in the wall. That'd be great. But even that would be way more than DSL bandwidth.

  • You guys should go solar and fuck up GWB's and Big Oil's plans.

    Yeah, maybe you'll make Jimmy Carter smile.

  • might even make non-Californians want to relocate.

    Whoops, someone left the gate open again. Sorry, we're all full up, try another state.

    Seriously, we've had high speed, we've had bandwidth, we've had promises, promises, promises. Problem is, you make the technology available (even something as humble as DSL (nowadays)) and you still have trouble finding any company willing to spend the billions it takes to dig up all those out-lawns or climb all those utility poles to run the stuff around. With the market the way it is right now, it's all just a dream.

    Funny how most high speed is still being carried over this awful copper which was laid in the 50's and 60's. Probably has something to do with JDS Uniphase, Nortel and Lucent all biting the bullet...

    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • Although I'll believe it when I see it, at least it doesn't rely on old technology. People complain about the reliability and deployment schedules of DSL. Well one has nothing to do with the other. Any change like this requires large amounts of infastructure, which is what spurred the development of DSL as a stop-gap technology. Rather than repeat all the discussion about DSL, I'll simply suggest doing a search on DSL on /., but annyway, as the author says, it's great to see someone taking the bull by the horns and deploying a real solution.


  • doesn't seem like that last mile ethernet did them much good. They are Slashdotted!!!!!!
  • Here is an analogy.

    Let's go back a little more than a hundred years. Did we need cars when we had trains? Did we need planes when we had cars later on?

    Life, as we know it, is just like puters. They all basically do the same thing. The only thing that we pay more for is speed and storage.

    There will allways be a purpose for it. We may not know what it is at this time. But if you were to ask someone 20 years ago if there was a need for a fax machine that would have said, nope, mail works fine for me.

    That is my .2 worth on the subject.

  • Do you have any more info on this? Their site is lacking info. I have relatives in that neck of the woods and it would be nice to get a server or two there :)
  • MPLS is a joke. It, in my opinion, is nothing more than a marketing ploy by the router manufacturers. They are trying to hype providers into running it as a source for revenue by offering higher priority on packets. Well, just think if 90% of the customers are running MPLS, then all of the packets are higher priority! Hmm, I guess we are back to square one of being clogged up.

    MPLS has some great features for VPN's though that are nice. But with MPLS outside of your core, you are hosed. The next router has to be able to handle the MPLS tag.

    An interesting side note would be if, the net was built with switches instead of routers, we would have no need for mpls! Layer 3 is a great place to handle packets. The problem that the net has is that there is no true connect. You have ATM cells to worry about, you have Frame PVC's to worry about. If everything was Ethernet instead of Telco forced standards then the net would scream!

    Ok, I am off my soapbox.

  • The problem with Nortel, Cisco, Sycamore, Ciena, ONI, Sorrento, etc. has nothing to do with the Telcos core. It has to do with the Telco's inability to close the last mile. The cost to deploy a Cisco 15454 which does OC48 to gig E is 65,000. Now that's a tad expensive to deploy at a homeowner. Hmm, at $50 per month, that box will be paid off by my great-great grandchildren. The problem is two fold. Getting fiber to the final point and the cost to get the gigE connection. If GigE Modems per se, ala Cable modems where $200 and we had fiber to most homes, do you really think we would have an issue with bandwidth under utilization?

    The reality, in my opinion, is that the Cisco/Lucent/Alcatel/Nortels of the world are hosed. They have based all of their equipment to handle the Telcos. Every piece of their equipment is built to do Ethernet to Sonet conversion. That costs money. The crap that you hear from them is that without Sonet you have no protection. Well, I guess they don't know squat about ethernet. Ethernet was built with collission in mind. If we drop a packet it will resend it! With Sonet, you, in theory never have to worry about that. If they built their equipment to do just pure ethernet then they would be fine. Well, guess what, they do and their called switches! To put pricing in perspective: Cisco has just priced out their OC-192 blade for their GSR line of routers. The routers start @ 250k, so these are the big boys. The blade is 250k in itself. OC-192 in essence is 10 gigabit. Hmm, last time I checked, if I was a ultra cheap bastard, I could get gigabit ports (fiber) for under $300. So give me ten and let them aggregate! There are also more issues in doing Sonet conversion to Ethernet. OC 48 is 2.5 gigabit. OC 12 is 622. So if they want a gig, they have to burn an OC 48. So they effectively lose about 60% of the utilization of the pipe!

    The computer people of the world need to force the telcos of the world to work in something other than a 64k, ds0 channel. Ethernet has allways worked in a base 10. Why? Because we like easy math :) The telcos have tried to force data into a system that was built for voice to voice communications, not computer to computer communication.


    PS. This was typed as I started to fall asleep, so don't mod me down because of typos or lack of sleep :)
  • Actually, it's being done with fixed wireless around the U.S. (and even in the UK with Bunch of people are getting together and sharing their broadband-based connections (in areas where they can get them) to those who can't via fixed wireless protocols including 802.11. I've included links to a few (including Seattle Wireless, BAWUG and more) here [].
  • Just found a rather extensive list of public fixed wireless links at: [] Later! :-)
  • So does Viator Networks' Egress [] solution, but this (and etherSPLIT) is for inside the premises. You still have to get the data to the premises. ;-)
  • I used to go to Boston a lot. There is construction everywhere, traffic is a mess. "The Big Dig" -- an intricate, underground tunnel system that would relieve traffic conjestion. The problem is, a native Bostonian told me, that by the time "The Big Dig" is complete, in about 10 years, there would be so many more cars than now, that they would cancel each other out.

    I suppose they shouldn't build it...
  • Okay, now this is very nice for the people that have access to this kind of service, which will be a small percentage, even once if it was fully deployed. Because, they will only lay this kind of bandwidth where it is finacnially profitable. Any are where said profitability exists, will already have very decent bandwidth options, and now they will have another one. But, until the federal goverment takes up the charge of a creating an information economy for Everyone and places some mandates on infrastructure branching out, these options will still be for very few, and i, living 30 minutes outside of NYC will still have my crappy 28.8 dialup! ARRRRRGH!
  • by hyrdra ( 260687 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @08:02PM (#143697) Homepage Journal
    This is really cool, but as others have mentioned, I didn't find any info on how they did this. How did they deal with attenuation in the fibers? What kind of network structure did they use which can handle at theortical maximium 1 Gbps from each connected home? Are they sharing bandwidth like cable modems do, or does each person receive a dedicated connection with a personal router, etc.?

    How about stringing that very delicate fiber over long distances? What about when there are breaks? Fiber is almost impossible to put back together from two ends, as it has to be 1/4 wavelength+ or scattering will result in an increased error ratio.

    I also don't know why they're dissing cable. Cable is awesome, at times much better than DSL. I don't know why he thinks a cable modem only gets around 2.5 kb/s in real life performance. I have a cable modem and can get up to 2.5 Mbps download and over 500 kbps upload. You should also note cable modems ARE capable of high upstream bandwidth. My modem, right now for example, has a maximum bitrate of over 2 MB/s, with a power level of 50 db. However, this is limited at the provider and through the modem via QoS.

    The Napster test was equally stupid; everyone knows 28.8 users select 'cable' for whatever reason. These programs should really report the average real bandwidth instead of allowing user selections, which are for the most part pointless.

    Also: for the person who was talking about the general slowness of the net and the fact that it won't matter how fast a connection you have -- you'll still only get a max of 500 kbps at even a very good site: I've got news. If, for example, we all had Gigabit connections the net would run MUCH faster. My neighboor also has a cable modem, and if I connect directly to his modem to send files, etc. I can get up to 2 MBps transfer speed. This is partly due to the fact that in modern cable setups, more and more routing is done on the neighborhood level ('micro-routing' and many slow routers -- MSR). If everyone gets a high speed connection like this, the Internet will run a lot faster. And as soon as providers realize more small routers are better than a huge few, things should improve.
  • I "invented" this a while ago; I guess I wasn't the first. I never thought it was practical, however, as many major Internet backbones are slower than this.

    But nonetheless, I want access!! ;)

  • No one will ever need more than 640k of ram. 640k is enough to run word processing, play games, use a spreadsheet, and handle all your daily computing needs.

    Sometimes, the need isn't there until the product/service allows for it. Downloading DVDs may seem like a pipe dream today, but it sure would save those long trips to the rental store! :)

  • To hell with using gold as an on-line currency, this proves that copper is far more valuable. Money is money, but bandwitdth is life!
  • "After downloading all the porn ever created,what will people use the bandwidth for?"

    Setting up a totally kick-ass Freenet node, one that services your entire time zone.

  • At least in Finland, Elisa Communications [] has for a long time (ie., from the summer 2000) been offering Gigabit connections to homes. They are building the connections in a joint effort with some constructors (so it's only available in newly-built houses at first).
    There isn't much information available in english yet, though.
  • Isn't this analogous to having a 6-lane driveway to a two lane country road dotted with single lane bridges?
  • too bad Hormel food is going to sue these guys into oblivion for this picture [] ... oh well it was a great thought; at least i know where my towel is.
  • Most large Internet facilities are indeed upgrading their backbone. Bandwidth, multiple connections, content-cache servers, upgrades in router hardware, upgrades in routing protocols, you name it. So that's not really the problem. Also, remember, there is a difference between bandwidth and round trip delay. "The Internet is slow" is a rather ambigious statement. Throwing bandwidth is not always the solution. Yes they are spending all their cash, but spending isn't the problem, its revenues. With all the .com crashes, these providers aren't collecting. Build it and they will come? Well... the question is, will they stay? - ex-manager of some large internet provider
  • Here is the link to the company that makes the equipment in question. I know one of the guys in the picture and he told me about this gear. Might just have to change jobs as this stuff sounds cool.

    Here are some tech docs.


1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes