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Fiber-to-the-Home Internet, TV, Phone in One Box 140

Brian Stretch writes "This looks like a really neat toy. Internet (PPPoE), CATV, DBS, telephone over one fiber optic cable to the converter box that breaks it down into 10BaseT Ethernet, coax, coax, and three POTS lines. I'd prefer more Internet bandwidth, and DBS and HDTV (from over-the-air broadcast) instead of DBS and CATV... but hey, these things could whack both Ameritech and Comcast in one shot. Is anyone familiar with these or any competing devices?"
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Fiber-to-the-Home Internet, TV, Phone in One Box

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  • by Adam9 ( 93947 )
    Talk about one hell of a monopoly if this ever rolls out in the mainstream..
    • Re:Utoh (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fishnuts ( 414425 )
      Actually, it would be considered friendly competition in most areas. In Sacramento, we have AT&T broadband, AT&T cable tv, and pacbell POTS. The only alternative to AT&T broadband cable modem is pacbell DSL (or in the northern sacramento area, surewest DSL). The only alternative to AT&T cable tv is satellite/dss.
      The only alternative to pacbell POTS service is cellular/pcs - and the biggest player here? AT&T wireless.
      Having another company that can provide TV, phone, and internet access in the neighborhood is quite welcome, and may drive prices down across the board for that area (why would the incumbant broadband/telephone company reduce prices otherwise?)
  • Can anyone say multimedia?!?
  • in Australia, I'll be a grandfather, at the speed of Australia's uptake in anything network technology related, well one day someone will truely oust the Telstra monopoly in Australia.
  • by gvonk ( 107719 ) <slashdot@garre t t v o n k .com> on Saturday April 13, 2002 @04:24AM (#3333944) Homepage

    As Dilbert would say, Bingo!
    • I find it rather disturbing that I can actually determine the qualifications of each acronym shown above. Don't you?

      PPPoE - PPP over Ethernet
      CATV - Community Access Television
      DBS - Duplex Bus Selector (?)
      POTS - Plain Old Telephone System
      HDTV - High Definition Television

      Scary. Very scary, indeed.
      • Re:Acronym-tastic! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by carm$y$ ( 532675 )
        Can you also spell "HUGE single point-of-failure"?
        After all, I'd like to be able to call (as in phone-call) if the CATV or internet access goes down...
        • by fishnuts ( 414425 ) <> on Saturday April 13, 2002 @05:46AM (#3334077) Homepage
          Any phone system provider is federally mandated to make sure the system is up 99.999% of the time. In fact, they face hefty fines for even ONE minute of downtime of a service area.
          It's to their advantage to build redundancy into their distribution system or face the consequences later.
          In the case of fiber-based distribution systems, they use a redundant ring (where a signal has a guaranteed redundant path) around their service area to accomplish this. When someone digs a trench and knocks out the service to a single home, it's still possible to run to a neighbor's house and use their phone in an emergency, so the federal regulations don't require complete redundancy on that "last mile".
          Therefore, fiber-based telco services are inherently more robust than telco over copper. Not to mention the advantage fiber has in its resistance to electrical/radio interference lightning.
        • After all, I'd like to be able to call (as in phone-call) if the CATV or internet access goes down...
          Hey, Amish Boy, real geeks don't worry about that stuff. Classic POTS was designed to work even if during a power blackout. Except for very basic consumer phones, it's been a long time since I saw premises equipment that supported this feature.
      • DBS- Digital Broadcast Satellite
        • Direct Broadcast Satellite

          And damn the 20 second rule.

        • Strike the DBS interface!

          It only supports two 500Mhz stacked signals (Just enough for One Sat slot).. or CATV.
          In this day and age.. U.S. DBS services have three to four different Sat slots.
          Then there is the multiple receiver issue, that can't be addressed by this product.


          Another item: The high speed internet is no faster than the existing DOCSIS modems.

          Data bandwidth
          Downstream Full duplex
          Burst packets: 10 Mbps
          Measured payload: 3.5 Mbps to 7 Mbps
          Upstream Full duplex
          Measured payload: 3.5 Mbps to 4.5 Mbps

      • And there was me thinking that CATV was TV for cats - goldfish bowls all day with the occasional mouse running across the screen. :-)
    • Here in lovely Sacramento, we have one thing I've never seen anywhere else.. A choice.

      1. AT&T offers cable modems
      2. Pac Bell offers phone/DSL
      3. A new company called WinFirst (now in Ch. 11, but still operating) offers FTTH.

      Heres what I get for about $130/mo.

      1 - Phone line with 100 minutes LD, voice mail, caller ID, etc, etc, etc.

      2 - All the basic local & Cable TV + 26 HBO/Cinemax.

      3 - 10 Mbps symmetrical Internet access. And if only I could find a server that could keep up! I'm limited to 30 GB per month, but you can buy more. But 30 GB goes pretty far.

      4. All delivered on fiber by a company who answers the phone. The cable system is crystal clear. Has VOD services.. It's quite cool.

  • when are most of us going to see fiber to home? 201x?
    • Some of us already have it. []

      10 mbps to the home. :)

      The only downside is that the router is a total blackbox for a gateway/router. Portscanning it from either side of the firewall reveals nothing and there seems no way into it to configure port-forwarding...

      The gateway device Fastweb is using is here: telsey []. Any ideas on how to make this thing more, erm, functional... would be appreciated.

      The other terrific thing about the Fastweb service is that with our monthly tarrif, we also get 'free' national and local calls. They also gave some crazy webTV appliance (which runs linu, btw) but we don't have much use for it.

  • Oh well,... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aralin ( 107264 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @04:27AM (#3333951)
    .... this is the technology, but well, where is the service provider? And how much they are going to charge? Honestly, if this really gives you satelite+cable TV, 3 phone lines and 10BaseT, I'm willing to pay up to $300 a month for it.
    Of course, if I get the 10BaseT dedicated up to some reasonable backbone *inno*

    Well, way to go...

    • Let's see... prices would be (including taxes...)
      • $30 for the first phone line
      • $40 for the additional lines ($20 each)
      • $60 for premium cable

        Total: $130

      That leaves $170 to pay for the 'net access. It'll certainly get you a nice connection... but it'll be a while before that buys you 10-Mbit.

      My ISP charges $1200/month for 7.1-Mbit (down) & 768-Kbit (up), unmetered transfer DSL. Those speeds are only offered to 'business' class service, and thus include the right to run servers & host a couple domains. What it doesn't include is what our local ILEC (Verizon) will charge you for the circuit. Still, we can probably not consider that, as the cable company owns the 'circuit' anyway. Quite an eye-opening bandwidth bill.

      Take a look at the Cisco uBR 925 []. It includes two RJ-11 POTS ports. Okay, so it's not three but I don't have teenagers. This device is capable of 10 Mbit/sec (limited because they installed 10-base instead of 100-base). Why aren't more of them installed? Why aren't we getting phone service over cable?

      (I'm not going to address pay-TV service, since you're already plugging this thing into it!)


      Ya got me. I'd say it's because the cable companies are in bed with the phone companies, and they both are milking things for all their worth. Just because something is available, possible, (both physically and financially!), and desirable doesn't mean it's going to happen.

      Heck, look what happened to the XFL -- and they had Jesse "The Mind" Ventura!

      But I'm cynical. I've pointed that out before. And it probably clouds my judgement.

    • .... this is the technology, but well, where is the service provider? And how much they are going to charge? Honestly, if this really gives you satelite+cable TV, 3 phone lines and 10BaseT, I'm willing to pay up to $300 a month for it.

      In some areas of Italy there's Fastweb [] which offers for 75 EUR (~66 USD) a month Cable TV, local and national phone calls and Internet connection. Their mother company, eBiscom [], has wired Milan and some other big italian cities with some very high speed fibers. I live in an area without coverage but from some friends who have it I've heard it's pretty good. Here [] you can find some informations in english, enjoy!


    • I work for a FTTH service Provider in California, (No not Winfirst [] nor Competisys [], the other one) and this is our current pricing. Our network is currently connected to Broadwing's Backbone.

      200k - $25/month
      2mbit - $45/month
      6mbit - $85/month
      12mbit - $125/month
      100mbit - $350/month

      There are monthly bandwidth limits but they are reasonable.

      One thing though, we are only deploying to new home communities (Currently in San Jose, Milpitas, Santa Clara, Oakland, Sacramento, Huntington Beach, and Lake Elsinore) and are currently only providing Internet Access. We seem to feel that the reason why many of these other FTTH companies are failing is that they are spending too much money focusing on overbuilds and additional competing services. With our focus on access our take rate is high, and our network uncluttered. Now this isn't to say that we don't plan to provide video on demand, but right now, we're just trying to make sure we have our fiber in the ground.

      For those of you in Texas, here are a couple other companies diong FTTH, CTT [] and Clearworks [] which is now backed by Eagle Broadband. Clearworks is using World Wide Packets Equipment.
  • Now we just need someone to foot the bill to run 100 million last mile fiber connections to everyone's houses at 1 million dollars a mile.


    Yours now for only a Hundred Trillion Dollars!

    Go Ahead and laugh. There are 100 million phone lines in the US and to quote a sig, "Information may want to be free, but fiber want's to be a million dollars a mile."
    • How can it possibly cost that much money per mile? I can't see fibre optic cabling within residential neighborhoods (for example) costing much more than the cost of putting up some telephone lines. The cost you are quoting is probably for heavy-duty longhaul cabling, the kind of stuff that 360Networks was doing. They were using train tracks across Canada and the had a train rigged with a large plow hanging off one side. They would then lay down some large pipes (I presume) which would house the fibre optics cables and maybe other things (like some power lines to power the lasers in the EDFA amplifiers). Then they would fill the trench. The costs of doing all of this was of course a huge undertaking, probably closer to the costs of building a gas pipeline rather than the costs of put some overhead wires in a residential neighborhood. The value you are quoting probably also includes the cost of laying oversea cables, which is also hugely expensive. I could be wrong on some of this, but I used to invest in 360networks, so I kind of know a little bit about what goes on. But I apologize if any of my facts are not bang-on.
    • Go Ahead and laugh. There are 100 million phone lines in the US

      So? For every phone line there needs to be an exclusive last mile fibre? That sounds pretty absurd.

      But I'm sure your point is largely valid though. However, we need fast last-mile links. It's important though that the right stuff is being put in the ground, and not just anything that some jackass company deems 'sufficient'.

      A good government could aid in that, but with the obvious lack of such,... but oh, I'm getting too political for /. ....
      • No, you can never be to political on slashdot :)

        It is an absurd price. But even if you don't run an individual piece of fiber to every home, you have to have an individual port on a fiber multiplexer or fiber router(!) to branch out to the thirty houses you might find currently hung off the local junction box. That would be a cool $10,000 per port plus another $10,000 for the backplane supporting 24 houses. That would be 4166666 of these neighborhood units, 173611 more one level up, 7233 at the central offices. That's $1,086,877,500,000 in upstream termination gear. We can assume that these things cost at least $1000 for $100,000,000,000 on the downstream end (can you imagine the bean counters at seimens cackleing with glee). A hundred billion at the consumer end and a little over a trillion on the monopoly phone/cable cable end. And we haven't even laid the first inch of fiber, purchased right of way, gotten local building permits, cleared through the FCC cash cow, moved to IPv6 (look at the numbers, it's manditory), Beefed up the backbone, selected a standard, drilled holes through people's houses, dug up their 10 thousand dollar landscaping, contracted with the major content/isp/software providers, etc, etc, etc...

        This is dead before it started, all to get 10mb/s to the desktop. 10 megabits per second. There are just too many major players who would not profit from it that could kill it in the blink of an eye. Or they'll support it on the interim, then kill the companies profiting from it in order to gut the infrastructure for their own petty plans.

        We get this rolling we might as well give everyone a free $10,000 PC at home too. It would only add about 1% to the final cost.

        Better to rely on wireless neighborhood networks and mesh routing to aggregate your 50 odd DSL and cable connections. Read Rob Flickenger's book to find out more about that one.
    • Yes, it's expensive, but I don't think it's quite that expensive. Installed plant costs for hybrid-fiber-coax plant by a cable company currently run about $40,000 per mile including power, amplifiers, taps, etc.

      Back in the late 70's, when AT&T was the One Bell System, an internal estimate of the cost to install just the fiber for fiber-to-the-home for the entire system was about $300B. Fiber is cheaper now, but labor is more expensive, and the process is labor-intensive. And a dollar doesn't go as far as it used to.

      Many of the "households" served are going to be in high-density housing, ie, apartments and condos. The costs for doing wiring (fibering?) in those can range from almost nothing (vertical risers with lots of empty space) to a ridiculous amount per foot (eg, ripping open firewalls to run the fiber and then restoring things to meet city code).

      Still, I'd bet that the job could be done for less than $10T if universal fiber was mandated :^) For me, a more realistic concern is that the number of people qualified to install fiber is rather limited, and getting the job done would take a LONG time even if you had the money.

    • A million dollars a mile? Hmmmm... Then you only need fifty people per mile to cough up the price of a car. (Not that fiber *really* costs a million dollars a mile.)
  • by hyrdra ( 260687 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @04:28AM (#3333956) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't it still mandate that telcom's must invest in expensive fiber optic rollouts, where they currently only have analog lines? Last mile may be ONLY a mile, but multiply that by 1000 communities and you have 1000 miles of short-path, difficult to maintain fiber in the field. Currently, fiber while being more versatile is still more expensive than rigid or semi-rigid coax that typically populates last-mile carrier networks.

    It took my cable company years and $$$$$$ to replace the splitters to go up to 1000 MHz so they could offer digital TV and internet access. And that was *just* the splitters in the outdoor enclosures. Imagine digging up or laying down new cable...(and it would be fiber so labour would be higher and cable would be more expensive).

    This seems like a very good idea for fiber to the door, but without investors willing to inject money into telcoms so they can build their networks, this just doesn't seem in the near future. The specs also don't look too promising --current cable modems can already do 30 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream, but are capped.

    The technology is there, the money just isn't.
    • I do believe capping cable modems is more because you have quite limited bandwith beyond the cable company's local net. Yes, it's sweet to be able to download at 400kB/s, but providing that sort of service costs arm + leg.

      Information may want to be free, bandwith doesn't. Now, I have no problem seeing cablecos offering TV broadcasts via cable modems in future. With multicasting, you end up *saving* cable bandwith. Only, again, the problem isn't the cable bandwith, it's the cost of the bandwith for *you* to download britney spears nekkid pics..
    • There's more than that. Hundreds of thousands (i would guess) field techs, who mostly don't have the skills to deal with fiber.

      I've met a lot of these field tech types, and it's the rare one that understands much more than continuity, cable quality issues, and dialing 211 to get ANI.

      They do their jobs well for the most part, they just don't need to know much more. It will be a huge investment in people to train these techs to lay and handle and even splice fiber. I can just imagine an untrained one pushing a bundle of excess fiber into a network interface box and forcing the door shut like they do with copper.
    • Yes but you're assuming that we're in the US.

      Think about the rest of the world, where many countries still have telecommunications monopolies. If the state owns the Telephone company, the Cable providers, the Internet Service Providers, this is quite a good way for them to replace aging infrastructure.

      It also sounds like a great idea for new developments, which, especially in the US, never seem to stop popping up.

      Your point about current cable modems isn't particularly valid either. Yes the modems can do higher speeds. I actually used an uncapped 10 megabit Zenith CableMizer in 1996. There are many too many problems with uncapped service to go in to here, but they include the fact that cable is a shared medium and that upstream bandwidth is still very expensive.
    • It also depends on *where* in the US you're talking. Here in Richmond, VA, we have fibre going all up and down my street. Those orange 'do not dig here' poles are marked every fifty feet or so. It would be trivial for them to string fifty feet or so of fibre from the utility pole to the side of my house. Around Richmond, they're still laying fibre like mad, even with the economy like it is.
  • I heard *lots* of good things about Sprint's ION service (which has been shut down). Unfortunately, their timing launching it was off. This sounds similar, though not quite as cool. Interesting.
    • Yeah, I worked on that project for a bit. 4 phones, 1Mbps data, something like 100 minutes of continental US long distance phone, all for about $150 a month.

      They were having problems in the DSLAM to long haul bandwidth. That link was a DS-3, I believe. They were considering upgrading the links to OC-12 or OC-48. Big cost jump.

      It really was a very cool service.
  • FTTH, Sweden (Score:3, Informative)

    by tomas.bjornerback ( 411702 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @04:38AM (#3333976) Homepage [] has a description of our real 100 Mbps Internet connected network (access also at 100 Mbps!)...
    • Whatever, Nice non-existent site. I'll pass.
    • Kudos to you and your neighbours. There should be more of this kind of community-based approach to high-speed in rural areas. Now, you live in a perfect world... if only the hard drives were faster.

      I think US$2k plus $10/month for services is a bargain for a connection that is about 100x faster than my US$30/mo ADSL here in Canada. You definitely have some advantages in terms of the design of your community (lots of straight-line trenches in soft earth helps a lot), but I'm sure the same approach could work in small towns around here.

      You should be very proud (your community collectively and you personally) of this project. Now, perhaps I might visit sometime for a LAN party some time?...

    • This is very impressive. I don't think that your going to have to upgrade your fibre for a while either (assuming it's good SMF then you can get up to several Tb/s on them in the future (ok, that isn't going to happen in the home, but hey)). It is quite funny though, under one of your photos showing a garden with a huge dark scar running through it, it says "Now, a year later, there aren't any visible tracks of this mayhem." Hmm... Who does the servicing/tech support? Surely things go wrong now and then? And what uptime do you manage?
  • ...but my box gives me 100Mbit Ethernet, 270Mbit SDI & 220Mbit ASI.

    All you need is a 622Mbit DTM network connection.
  • ...which none of us do.

    If it looks like every house is going to get at least one fiber connection, there are any number of integrated multimedia delivery systems. The problem isn't how to use fiber; the problem is how to use the copper we already have. Or, how to get fiber to 150,000,000 endpoints in the US alone.

  • by hokanomono ( 530164 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @04:59AM (#3334014) Homepage

    In parts of Japan appearently [] you can already get a 100Mbit connection through fibre cables to your house. (Those who cannot read japanese, see the image []. Not informative, but you can imagine your house in place and have nice dreams.) The price: JPY6000/month. (about EUR 52, resp. USD 45)

    I was wondering for some time if it was just a joke. Well, afaik fibre cables are about the same price as CAT5 cables. One big advantage is that a full duplex fibre segment over a really big distance seems to be less a problem. (A switch every 45km sounds easy)

    Too sad that i live in a country that is currently struggling to have ADSL for a fair price.

    • Fiber cables are not that cheap. The bulk media may be approaching CAT5 prices, but the connectors on the end and the associated labor in installing end connectors and splices when something breaks is huge compared to copper.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Yup, termination is a bitch. I've done lots of twisted pair crimps and punch-downs, so I figured going to fiber (to string across my yard to another building) would be trivial.


        Oh sure, you can buy any kind of fiber you want at Graybar or mail-order, but then you have to terminate it. Short of these technical school COURSES that claim to teach you how to do it, there's no quick way to make it happen.

        With my twisted pair stuff, another guy showed me the technique and gave me the color codes. With fiber, there are all sorts of steps you have to follow, and special equipment for each one. You have to cut it just right, polish, glue the connector in, and so on. I'm probably missing a few steps since I threw in the towel.

        APC (yeah, the UPS people) makes a 50 meter long length of patch-grade fiber. I finally just bought that and buried it in the yard. It was easier than trying to do it the "right" way.
        • I watched a guy at a Siemons cabling dog-and-pony show terminate fiber using their new gee-neato-whiz-bang super-expensive fiber terminator in less than 30 seconds. In your case, I would have done what you did and buried a long patch cable, but for the professional installer...
    • In the MID 90's the Japanese gov started the Fiber to the home (FTTH) with the goal of having 10 million homes equipped with fiber by 2005.

      What does that mean?
      Well if you live in a major city, you can sign up for B Flet, NTT's fiber service.

      If you can read Japanese, check out NTT east's site at:

      OR the NTT west site at:

      On the west site, you can clearly see what is offered, with 100 Mbps big and bold! Of course, while this is the advertised speed, the actual performance is going to be between 20 and 50 Mbps.

      They have 3 plans:

      Business plan: 100Mbps for 40,000 yen ($300) a month

      Basic plan: 100Mbps for 9,000 yen ($69) a month

      Family plan: 10Mbps for 5,000 yen ($38) a month.

      While the price is good, the installation and hardware costs are high. It costs 29,000 yen to hook up the basic plan ($223).

      I'm living in the boonies of Nagoya now, but I look forward to moving closer to Nagoya to take advantage of this!


  • i can still download porn and talk to miss cleo at the same time right...

    16, 17, 18, 19, 20... lame filter, you are so lame.
  • Great idea, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @05:04AM (#3334021) Homepage
    It's a great idea. It combines all of your communincation services into a single package. It consolidates the cost of running all the lines, as well as the maintenance expense. It also has the potential to dynamically divide your bandwidth - if no one is using the phone you may be able to allocate it as extra broadband. If someone invents a new service, just re-allocate for it.

    One big question though...

    Can anyone find anything resembling a price tag? I Looked over the website and the only refference to money that I could find was an "Investors" link, LOL!

    I really hope they succeed, but I wouldn't invest. Too likely to be vaporware.

    • It's a great idea. It combines all of your communincation services into a single package. It consolidates the cost of running all the lines, as well as the maintenance expense.

      This is why the MICROSOFT OFFICE XP [] is such a good product! OFFICE XP is several degrees of magnitude of superiority better than the small, speciallized UNIX style application programs. This approach cannot help but succeed in all manner of enterprises. Yet another example of MICROSOFT innovation leading to gains for FREE SOFTWARE users such as myself!
    • Of course there isn't a price tag - what use would selling one of these have in the slightest? You need all the telco side boxes and fibre in first.

      Marconi make the equipment, the telco operates it. Until someone adopts this system for fibre in the home, then you won't see prices.

      And no, it isn't vaporware, it's called a prototype. If investors and telcos show interest, then production goes ahead. Rolling out something like this is so expensive that you don't just build all the equipment before you know someone will use your system.
    • Marconi did 6,942 million pounds in business in 2001 as stated in their annual report []. (That's over ten billion USD)

      They're not a startup, nor a consumer products company, and they certainly don't need to put prices for their telco carrier equipment on their website.

      (In other words, this is not vaporware.)
    • The real problem is the broadband investment meltdowns that are occurring around the world with annoying frequency.

      There are several vendors building hardware in this space. For example, a bunch of my friends and former Packet Engines coworkers started World Wide Packets [], which builds boxes that amount to the same thing. They're a two year old startup that is waiting for a market to appear for their hardware. Their stuff rocks, but they only make equipment and don't control the deployment.

      FYI Packet Engines was acquired [] by Alcatel [] in late 1998. They managed to bungle their way through the acquisition of several companies in a short time, completely crushing out of existence [] some very promising technology through truly appalling corporate stupidity during what was the biggest boom time in history for ethernet and IP routing infrastructure manufacturers.

      Alas, Packet Engines and nearly all of the others are now almost completely gone.

  • Winfirst is a California based company that is offering last mile fiber internet connections to houses with a 10 meg up/down cap for $100 for install and $50 a month for internet service. They are also soon in line for the dot-death list but it can be done.
    • Winfirst's service is awesome. Not only do they provide fully digital tv service, but they offer video-on-demand to every customer, kind of like server-side TIVO.
      Their equipment is capable of 100mbit to the customer (which they were planning on reserving for enterprise/large-business customers).
      It was unfortunate that their investment bankers pulled a majority of their funding. Their Sacramento area system would be profitable with about twice as many customers as they currently have, but they need the capital to get the rest of the sacramento area into service (orangevale, folsom, downtown, south sac, west sac). They currently serve natomas, carmichael, north sac, part of foothill farms)

    • Of course the company is currently operating under bankruptcy protection, wasted millions to have Bechtel play middle-man, fly 20-30 people in/out EACH WEEK!! from the Denver HQ to Sacramento in order to sit in a big room on conference calls.

      Its a great idea. Unfortunately they majorly screwed the pooch on implementation.
  • by GutBomb ( 541585 )
    my cable company in orange county offered similar service, phone/tv/internet for $130 per month... in 1999. this is news?
  • Here in Southern Europe (5 cities in Italy, plus some others in Europe - 10 to 15 cities total I believe) there's a company called e.Biscom (plus its subsidiaries Metroweb and Fastweb) which is engaged in a massive fiber roll-out. What do they sell? Phone (VoIP), pay-per-view TV, and 10 MBps flat-rate Internet Access (NATted), for 50 euros/month plus taxes (phone bills and TV shows not included of course).
    They've been doing it for at least 2 years, and they've always used one integrated device with fiber in and 10BaseT/phone/tv out. The models have varied in time, but this is definitely NOT news.
  • I'm somewhat disgusted by the people who scream about cable providers who wouldn't share their lines yet they think this is "cool".

    Think about it. Sure, one service created to serve them all - but hell, one service to rule them all as well.

    Are we asking for it when we say we want POTS and all the rest rolled into one? For example: I love my Time Warner cable. I wouldn't use a dish if it was free. If this service is rolled out will it kill my options [or limit them]?

    Let's keep in mind that optical internet is awsome. Let's also remember that adding in TV, Phone and Cable could cause so many collisions that the internet aspect wouldn't be worth it.

    IMHO we should keep these services seperate for now. Having our options open for 'net access is ideal. Telephone lines are fsck'n fine [I CAN call anywhere now can't I?]. Cable and Satellite is out there.

    So why do we need this? Sure, I want fiber to my house. But why should I share the bandwidth with my phone and the rest?

    :: Of course the simple answer is that there is a provider who wants to collect on all the services. It's greed stupid! ::
  • OK, yes it's cool.

    Yes I'd buy one.

    Do I need one? No. Is there a sufficient market for this device outside of a few select metro areas? Probably not (yet).. I can see this as a very nice add on for a home/small business. I can see this as a great thing for the geek that needs all his toys. But I can't see this selling enough units to really make a profit. I know only time will tell but the whole last mile fiber problem (coupled with the retrofit installation nightmare in many of the prime locations for this to be installing in older businesses) and cost/benifit I really don't see it happening. OK, one last thing. Did anyone else bother to look over their investor press release? Very interesting things when you compare them to the official documents the company is required to release to the stock exchange.
  • This site: provides an overview of a last mile fiber product being offered by an NEC venture, eluminant.
  • Personally i think that this kind of setup is the future. Here in the UK one company <a href="">HomeChoice&l t;/a> is already offering STBs that do VoD using the BT ADSL technologies. The STBs also have a serial port providing net access (albeit at a rather limited speed).

    There are already many VoIP technologies in place and some standards, the VoIP revolution is progressing quickly.

    Of course the cost of supply individual houses with fiber would be very high, using ADSL or other DSL technologies over plain copper with only fiber at the exchange would be a much cheaper solution.

    How much bandwidth would an MPEG2 stream use? Unbundling of the local loop and the increase in competition with provision of ADSL services needs to improve to be able to provide complete solutions but the technology is available.
  • Alcatel has products in this market too. Take a look at the []
    Alcatel 7340 Home Optical Network Terminal for details. It also has POTS, CATV, DBS, and 10BaseT.

    I sure hope that the phone companies do a better job of rolling out FTTU than they have ADSL.
    • Too bad Marconi's website fails to point out that the product has been cancelled and the design group disbanded.

      Fiber to the home probably won't happen in our lifetime.


  • Hey, COX Cable already does that, and has for a while....coming up to your house is fiber, and then from there is phone, net, and cable tv...
  • This [] is the Marconi's big brother--- Gigabit fiber uplink, 8 10/100 ethernet and 2 telephone jacks. Anybody drooling now?
  • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @09:33AM (#3334459) Homepage Journal
    Last I heard in IEEE journal a year ago, this kind of 1-fiber line to your house is more of what Ameritech and Comcast are going to use to thwack the telephone companies, and not vice versa.

    After all, it's the cable companies that are already laying digital fiber lines to houses. They probably have some regulatory hurdles to overcome to offer POTS through the lines instead of having to go through the phone monopolies' networks, but with the backing of TW/AOL/etc. this no longer seems insurmountable.

    The phone monopolies have limited deployment of digital lines to some prototype high-income (like, millionaire) communities, but even then, I don't think those lines carry TV signals. So the cable companies should be much closer to making this a reality.

    I for one wouldn't mind cable taking over my communications, but I'm pretty sure that's just because I had good experiences with TWCNY's Road Runner service and pretty goddamn awful experiences with Verizon.

    • Of course this is a carrier-class product. :) That said --

      Ameritech IS a phone company -- and SBC has gotten *OUT* of the cable business (sold the Ameritech overbuilds to WideOpenWest, and shut down the Pac*Bell Tele-TV wireless service in L.A.) Verizon apparently wants to shut down GTE's overbuilds in Clearwater, Camarillo, etc; OTOH, Qwest and BellSouth, as well as some small independent ILECs, really DO want to compete with the cable companies (Q with VDSL and BLS with FTTC/"IFITL"/etc. Both Q's and BLS's deployments are far more than "prototype", but they are still quite limited to newly-built mid-to-upper-income suburban subdivisions.

      Except for WINfirst in Sacramento, who's having major financial problems, no US MSO is even close to true FTTH -- and AIUI, WINfirst is using the fiber for Internet and phone only, not for TV (they still use good old coax for that.) "100 homes to a node" does not FTTH make.

      Summary: IMO the ILECs (at least Q and BLS -- SBC and VZ can't even get POTS right, let alone DSL, T1's, or anything else wired; SBC can't even get wireless [Cingular] right) are much closer to FTTH and the MSOs.

      As for "liking cable" -- here in Atlanta, people love BellSouth and *HATE* AT&T Broadband (mainly because of customer service problems, not technical issues; most people's TV rarely goes out, and their phone service gets few complaints), Charter, and Adelphia -- and hate the "private cable" outfits some apartment and condo complexes contract with even worse.

  • I recall a segment on Dateline or 20/20 about something like this before. It was supposed to be over coax and offer internet, tv, phone, possibly more. Each person would have their own telephone ringtone, etc. But, as we can see today, it does not exist.

    Who cares if it is a monopoly as long as fair rates and fair service are provided, that is what the public services are.

  • hard to see why they wouldn't put 100baseT in the box -- they can always soft-limit folks to 10mbit/s or 1 mbit/s but keep the option of selling bigger pipes to those who have the ca$h..

    someone's pinching pennies and that will hurt them in the long run.

    • I agree. With all PC's sold within the last year or so capable of 100/10 auto-sensing, they should include 100baseT. Especially with video apps, 100baseT will make a huge difference. Although I doubt many people will adopt this first go at a product, so we can all just wait for revision 2. :)
  • If you're an ATT digital cable customer you get to have this huge switching box which is supplied by coax from the street and breaks off into phone, TV , and cable internet. I have 'never' seen a phone outage for what it's worth.

  • There are currently some trials going on for this product:

    Palo Alto: []

    Somewhere in Virginia: elease.vtml?id=69074 []

    Theres always good info on this sort of technology here: []

    • It's already available in San Diego or Sacramento from mods haven't seen my post at the bottom yet I guess.
  • by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @10:58AM (#3334734) Homepage
    I just went through the process of having fiber installed to my office by the local cable monopoly in order to get a T3. That's not a cable modem, by the way, and they beat the crap out of the local telephone monopoly when it came to quality and price (cleaner line at a third of the price). Anyway, I watched as they did it.

    Fiber is hard to work with. You have to run it all the way back to a powered node... Its not good enough to run it back to a simple splitter. You generally have to fusion-splice it for these applications. Fusion splicing requires special training, expensive equiment and expertise that simple coax does not. No more installation contractors whose "in" was ownership of a van and a $250 course.

    You could conceivably run cable from the powered location out to subpanels and then run fiber from the home to the subpanels with jacks rather than splices. By sending out the installers with preterminated lengths in 50' increments and instructing them to coil the excess at the home, it could be done. But if the connectors get dirty, its toast, pulling preterminated fiber is significantly more difficult than pulling unterminated wire, and either way its several times as expensive as coax.

    Coax has plenty of bandwidth. Do you have any idea how much bandwidth is available in 60 analog television channels? Any idea how little bandwidth it takes to make a phone call? With a rational combination of the various multiplexing techniques (FDM, TDM, CDM) and an upper bound around 100 for the number of customers served on a particular coax segment, you could easily accomodate enough bandwidth to play one DVD movie, multiple phone calls and high speed internet all at once in each home.

    Add a second coaxial cable and you can triple the number served on a segment by moving the head-end transmissions to one cable and the subscriber transmissions to the other. But best of all: Joe in a truck can still install the service in a subscriber's home without costing the company a fortune.
    • TV is 6 MHz for analog SD (standard definition), 270Mb/s for SDI (4:3 digital uncompressed), 1.5 Gb/s for HD-SDI (16:9 HD digital uncompressed), 19.39 Mb/s ATSC stream (MPEG2 transport stream with a single HD or up to 4 SD program streams). A phone is 64 Kb/s (one ISDN-BRI).
      • Correct. Lets compare apples to apples for a moment:

        6 mhz * 60 channels = 360mhz.

        That 64kbps phone line is actually a 4 khz signal digitized at 8khz with 8 bits per sample to guarantee accurate frequency reproduction. That's 0.004 mhz. In fairness, its quasi-full duplex so it really takes twice as much: 0.008 mhz.

        So, the coaxial cable can carry 360 mhz / 0.008 mhz = 45,000 simutaneous telephone conversations assuming they use the 20-years obsolete FDM scheme. Modern transmission techniques like CDMA bump data capacity in the same bandwidth up by at least an order of magnitude.

        So, we're talking about the equivalent of half a million telephone conversations for each coax loop, and each coax loop serves only a few hundred households.

        Fuzzy math, and the devil's in the details but the basic point is valid: Coax in the last mile has more than enough bandwidth for the foreseeable future.

        The Bells only get 24 * 28 = 672 telephone conversations on each _pair_ of coaxial cables. No wonder they're so expensive!
    • Fiber isn't that expensive. This post is so full of problems it isn't even funny. Just watching somebody put in a fiber doesn't make you an expert.

      > Fiber is hard to work with.
      Not really - you don't have to be much more skilled than someone who is good at doing cable terminations, or good at doing RJ-45s on Cat-5. Yes, you can screw it up - but how many of you have dealt with messed up RJ-45 connections?

      > You have to run it all the way back to a powered node... Its not good enough to run it back to a simple splitter.
      Wrong. You do eventually have to get to a powered node, but the whole point of PON technology (Passive Optical Network) is that you don't need powered nodes in the field. That is a HUGE problem with cable company systems. They need these green boxes in every neighborhood, and those green boxes need power, and a whole shelf of batteries for backup power. Lots of cost, maintenance, etc.

      > Fusion splicing requires special training, expensive equiment and expertise that simple coax does not.
      Ok - Fusion splicing does take some more specialized equipment. But the cost of a splice is down to $25. Not that expensive.

      > But if the connectors get dirty, its toast
      No. If the connector gets dirty, you clean it. Normally people doing FTTH don't use pre-terminated cable. They have found it cheapest to run unterminated cable, and then fusion splice on terminations. You could also put terminations directly onto the fiber in the field, but that take more time so it is more expensive.

      >Coax has plenty of bandwidth
      Yes - it has a lot of bandwidth, BUT fiber has much much more.
  • I worked for Optical Solutions, Inc. [] for two years. FTTH is awesome, but the RBOCs aren't quick to try and roll it out. They have too much copper in place. The providers that are making the investment to lay fiber are the rural and independent telcos. I'm not really allowed to say too much about Optical Solutions, so maybe one of the people still there, who I know read /., will post some more information. Dan, you there?

  • I live in a condo complex. There are a few other large condo complexes surrounding us. We could install the gear (one-time charge), carry the entire Dish Network datastream (maybe they'd subsidize us?), maybe figure out how to retransmit the HDTV over-the-air datastreams (20Mb/sec each), have our Internet access plugged into a fractional DS3 feed, and if one of the local telecom companies wants to make use of the POTS ports to provide us with a competitor to Ameritech, that works too. If Earthlink or some other ISP wants to handle the Internet feed and customer support, groovy.

    Of course, it'd be simpler to just do pure Ethernet, but it might be an easier sell to the community if we could do DBS TV too. Just plug in your satellite receiver, call Dish Network with your credit card number, and vegitate to your heart's content. Maintenance shouldn't be too big a deal.

    Being fiber, extending the network to neighboring communities shouldn't be too big a deal, if this grand delusion works in the first place.
    • I don't see anything *technically* wrong with that idea.

      Unfortunately, if you go wired and own your own fiber, you'd open yourself to cable regulation. :( That said, if you were to contract with a telco to handle the fiber interconnects between properties, you'd PROBABLY avoid cable regulation. (This is based on the FCC's ruling regarding ECI in Lansing, MI, which did the latter; IIRC, the FCC ruled that because of the way ECI built their sytem they were not subject to cable regulation.) Most "private cable" systems (that's basically what you'd be building) use 18 GHz licenseed microwave to interconnect properties as a result.

  • Does it bother anyone but me that the electronics appears to be powered off a wall transformer? So that when commercial power fails, the phone service goes out as well? Providing network-based power for this type of device on a large scale that could allow phone service to continue when commercial power fails is EXPENSIVE! Not to mention that you would have to run copper of some sort in parallel with the fiber in order to carry that power.
    • How about plugging it into an UPS? My UPS has saved me more than once. I even used one when we had a nationwide power outage (Aug 1996 Malaysia) to provide florescent lighting for three days (actually nights). We recharged it during the day with a gas poewered generator, and we were even able to work on our multimedia project. Now if we could have just found one big enough for the air conditioning we would have been all set.
    • I think this box takes C-cell batteries to keep the POTS active in the event of a power failure.
  • ..I posted a link to I wired their data center here in Dallas where they're running contracts to get fiber to downtown and some north dallas (along I75) locations. They used to have walkout maps showing where they were researching and potential neighborhood maps, after a redesign of their site they're gone. Anyway hit that site and get educated, these people will be a real competitor once their network is in place.
  • slightly OT - but IFITL - Integrated Fiber in the loop already exists here in south florida (just a few neighborhoods in Davie and Hialeah.) When your connected it says "connected at 10mbps" It costs exactly the same as Bellsouth FastAccess DSL. Difference is that with DSL you need a modem. With IFITL you only need a PPPoE client and a nic. They install an RJ-45 in your house. Next to a phone outlet usually. Heres a way cool site from one guy who is way too tech. []

    and the linkscared:

    Lots and lots of big big pictures. Hopefully we'll slashdot him... (teehee)
  • Passive optical networks (PON) are cool, but I think in the long run IP/Ethernet PONs are going to be more flexible than the Marconi stuff. While the standard for EPONs [] is still being worked out, Alloptic [] is shipping some gigabit PON equipment already.
  • This is great, except that fiber to the home just ain't happening. Last mile problem, stubborn telcos, competition between cable and telcos over infrastructure.. The only way this works is if there is a new player in the market willing to spend billions on new fiber to every home, and start a completely new service. There is NO WAY cable or telco gives up on their current technology and starts with this - and that's what it would take to get fiber into the home. We already have copper and coax in every home and this is good enough for the two big players right now. Their page says low deployment cost per home, but what do they mean? $2000? $4000? Compared to less than a thousand for a cable modem or DSL (including head-end equipment)?
  • Marconi's stock is 20 cents, I wonder if this product will survive.

    Anyway, there are may companies working on a standards-based PON. There is a group called FSAN (Full Services Access Network) with a Web site [] that describes the standards.

    FSAN is working on an ATM-based PON (APON) which will compete for dominance with Ethernet-based PON (EPON). If you are interested in PON technology, you should focus on these techniques since the interoperability between equipment vendors will be based on these methods.

    Check out the equipment from Quantum Bridge [] for active products that support a standards-based PON.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    FTTH is already available to a few communities in the Houston 'burbs. The installer is Clearworks, a subsidiary of Eagle Broadband. They have also begun installations in the Austin area.

    The fiber is run to new homes already installed with ethernet networks during the construction phase.
    They now advertise 10 Megabit service, but early reports from customers indicated speeds much closer to synchronous 100 Mb. Apparently, the funny part was customers trying to test the speed. It required several simultaneous downloads because of the lack of 100 Mb offerings.

    They have different digital packages, but phone, internet and 200 channel "cable" was reported at about 100 bucks/month. There is significant savings with bundled services. Where can I sign up?
  • Kutztown PA. is currently in the process of installing Fiber-to-the-Home, and should be up and running within a few months. No prices have been announced yet, but seeing is this is a very heavily college student populated town (I being one of them), and all college students are bandwidth hungry, how could the Borough say no? More information can be found here: []
  • these things could whack both Ameritech and Comcast in one shot.

    Except that I believe Ameritech is currently testing a service that provides all this. They laid the wire in some cities over the past year, and tests are supposed to begin this summer.

    A friend of mine asked a technician who was helping to lay the wire, and got this information. Further, the bandwith could come close to 50 megabit per house. No telling what would be for which service though.

  • I stumbled upon this internet company in my city. They offer this fiber optic service but they have a limited service area. Not sure how much installation is but I heard service was $50 a month, not bad ;) I did hear they filed for chapter 11 though....check it here
  • WAAAAAAy back (ok, '98? 99?) A Telco in Edmonton was doing some technology trials in Edmonton and Calgary that didn't quite run fibre to the home, but it ran fibre past the curb, and Cat-5 into the home.

    Over this came telephone, xDSL, Digital cable, movies-on-demand and sundry. then 1 or two years later the whole thing was buttoned up and packed away. It was a pretty suite setup.
  • My folks live in Rapid City, SD and subscribe to a package offered by Black Hills FiberCom ( Something like $99/mo for local and long distance phone with premium features, a premium digital cable package, and broadband internet. It's a steal.
  • Doesn't it still mandate that telcom's must invest in expensive fiber optic rollouts,

    Fiber is only slightly more expensive at this point than copper, and telecoms are scheduled to replace about 300,000 miles of copper this year alone. Furthermore, the upkeep of passive optical networks is less than copper due to no need for amplifiers and other electrics.

    It took my cable company years and $$$$$$ to replace the splitters to go up to 1000 MHz so they could offer digital TV and internet access. And that was *just* the splitters in the outdoor enclosures. Imagine digging up or laying down new cable...(and it would be fiber so labour would be higher and cable would be more expensive)

    The splitter wasn't the problem. The problem was rolling the truck. That is what cable and telecoms are truly concerned about, because a $2 splitter just doesn't compare to a $40 man hour and a truck. The idea that fiber is more exspensive to work with is quickly becoming a myth, and at the present time the added installation cost is almost immediately recouped from cheaper operating expenses. Can you imagine how much it cost to provide battery backed power to a remote amplifier station every couple of miles. A PON will span 30miles with no amplification.
    Can anyone find anything resembling a price tag? I Looked over the website and the only refference to money that I could find was an "Investors" link, LOL!

    Alcatel has been advertising to vendors (ie, the telecoms) that they can easily provide the "triple play" for less than what people are paying now and still have a 3 to 5 year recovery period.

    Last I heard in IEEE journal a year ago, this kind of 1-fiber line to your house is more of what Ameritech and Comcast are going to use to thwack the telephone companies, and not vice versa.

    Don't believe everything you read in IEEE then. Telecoms are testing PONs with plans to roll them out RSN. The big hurdle is regulatory (as usual). The FCC doesn't allow telecoms to send video. Hard to deliver a triple play that way. It is true that some of the cable companies are also looking at fiber, because it is cheaper than copper and coax has some realistic bandwidth limits. Once the fiber is in the ground, it doesn't react with water and can be upgraded with end equipment for pratically infinite bandwidth.

    The real kicker right now is that the telecoms are running scared of the cable guys. ADSL can't deliver TV, phone and data. It just doesn't have enough bandwidth for the video. But the cable guys are getting into the phone business. This gives them a huge advantage. Once the FCC lets the big telecom guys sell video, watch for a huge rollout of PON systems.

    Fiber is hard to work with.

    Things. They are a changin'.

    Coax has plenty of bandwidth.

    And no one needs more than 640K of memory either.

    Finally. This technology won't see much play. Telecoms won't pick it up until it complies with ITU G.983.2. Those guys just don't play with things that aren't based on a written standard because of the headaches involved with swithing vendors. The only company with a 983.2 compliant PON system is Alcatel (of ADSL fame). You might want to check them out for a system that you might actually see installed at some point in the future.

  • Wide Open West [] was doing a site survey near my home recently, to set up this kind of fiber-obtic infrastructure.

    They have a FAQ at []
  • Nice idea - but Marconni killed off their FTTH product line. (Website is out of date)

    See this analysis [] of their most recent reorganization

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