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The Internet

Demand More From Your Copper 288

D3 wrote in with a submission about fiber to the home, or the lack of it, and the reasons behind this, and ways to work around the Bells to provide high-speed access despite them. A pretty decent article, which actually goes beyond the Baby Bell PR-speak that deregulation is the solution to everything. Maybe at some point state and Federal regulators will realize that the Bells are the problem, not the solution.
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Demand More From Your Copper

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  • Cost Cost Cost (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Smallpond ( 221300 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:32PM (#5251502) Homepage Journal
    Fiber may be cheap, but high-speed conversion to copper isn't.

    Also, DSL cannot run over fiber, so the most common low-cost
    solution is eliminated by fiber to the home.

    • Re:Cost Cost Cost (Score:5, Informative)

      by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:43PM (#5251628)
      Also, DSL cannot run over fiber, so the most common low-cost solution is eliminated by fiber to the home.

      DSL isn't a layer 2 encoding, its a layer 1 transmission technology. Saying it doesn't work on fiber is like saying I can't use a boat in the desert. It's true, but the boat isn't needed in the desert.
    • Also, DSL cannot run over fiber, so the most common low-cost solution is eliminated by fiber to the home.

      Why in the heck would you run DSL over fiber? DSL is an attempt to take an old-fashioned voice technology and jury-rig it for high-speed data transmission. Fiber-to-the-home is specifically designed for high-speed data transmission.

      Is sticking with the old-fashioned solution cheaper in the short term? Absolutely. But I just don't understand your particular comment.

      • My point was that there is currently a solution for a high-speed connection (DSL)
        so cheap that my ISP will install it for free if I sign up for a year.
        If I have the end of a fibre optic cable sticking out of my wall, what do
        I plug it into? Here's [] a 2Mbit optical modem. You want to pay for two of

    • Does verizon offer broadband solutions where they have deployed fiber for last mile? There are a number of communities in the DC metro area that were built out fiber, but verizon doesn't have a consumer grade broadband option for those customers, other than IDSL or some such other acronym with "DSL" in it.

      does such a product exist?


      • I certainly haven't seen one.

        I'm in Verizon-land, and live in a recently built neighborhood (approximately 5-7 years old). I have fiber to the pedestal in my front yard, but to date, Verizon doesn't have a single service to sell me that makes use of that fiber.

        It's baffling...

        It's particularly frustrating as my home is some 35,000 feet from the CO, so I'm ineligible for any DSL services.

        Verizon would have an "in" if they could have offered me:

        • High-speed Internet
        • Television Service
        • Hi-Def Television Service

        They could easily offer me Voice/Video/Data over that line, and I'd most likely bite.

        As it is, I think they've missed their window. My local cable company finally got Internet access into my neighborhood so I have them for my cable modem, and I've already made a signifigant investment in DirecTV hardware (with 2 DirecTivos, and 2 other non-Tivo receivers).

        Their last hope is to get me Hi-Def content, but it looks like my cable company is going to beat them to that punch too (Cox has deployed Hi-Def cable in Fairfax, VA, and it should be appearing in Fredericksburg shortly).

    • It's a relatively new technology being deployed by Bellsouth now. Digital Fiber in the Loop [] (DFITL) makes use of a new card that gets installed into your fiber pedestal (ONU), manufactured by Marconi. [] It essentially acts as a mini-DSLAM.
      Then inside your house, you use a regular ADSL modem on your phone line, and you'll get maximum speed no matter how far you are from the CO.

      The problem is that Marconi is the only company that manufacturers cards such as these and they are proprietary from what I understand. However, for those like me that were stranded on dialup for months before this was finally available, it's a wonderful thing to have.

  • At least........ (Score:4, Insightful)

    by g0hare ( 565322 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:35PM (#5251532)
    when it was all AT&T I didn't get 10 calls a day asking if I'd like to switch long distance companies.
    • So try to convince them you don't have a phone. Trust me, it's pretty funny if you can play it straight.

      Random companies asking for your phone number are pretty incredulous when you tell them you don't have a phone, but when it's the phone company and they're the ones calling you, they get really confused.
  • by Soluxx ( 545237 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:35PM (#5251534)
    Seriously, why would we want fiber in the home? I have a cable modem and I'm perfectly happy with it. I think what would drive something like that is an application that requires it. MP3's, Chatting, Games, always having a connection on, etc... That's what drove the popularity of Cable modems and DSL's. Other than a huge File Sharing Node, why would we want fiber?
    • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:38PM (#5251574) Journal
      >> Other than a huge File Sharing Node, why would we want fiber?

      Because competition for the cable monopolies is a Good Thing (tm).

      Besides, this article is about copper, and how all the copper in the ground can still be utilized to do what fiber could.
    • by mistcat ( 187084 ) <mistcat@phreaker. n e t> on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:43PM (#5251618) Homepage
      I can tell you why I would want it. I work for the government as a contractor processing satellite data. The data files are HUGE, routinely over 250 megs a file, with 20+ files a day. A cable modem or dsl line simply doesn't have enough bandwidth for me to work from home effectively. Sure I can SSH into a box at work or whatever, but after all the tcp wrappers, ipchains, dns, etc, there is a noticeable lag when I work with things in X-windows. I don't know what minority of the tech population is also in my shoes, but for us fiber to the home would be great, and something I'd be willing to pay a premium for.
      • Go to work. And work from there, The videos I augment and render are huge files and take forever to do from home....duh, that's why I go to work and sit on our 100 megabit network. Which by the way is going to be the fastest you can use right now, I know they sell gigabit cards but how many desktops can write, or read data at a gigabit a second. Optical to the home is dumb, 82% of the internet is still on dial up, why don't we get the cable modem technology to be cheaper first and maybe just get all of our ISPs on Fiber,then they can give us more bandwidth to our cable modems.
        • Well, 100megabit works out to 12.5MB/s per second. My hard drive can both read and write considerably faster than that. Gigabit pushes the roof to about 128MB/s. Serial ATA is specced to go to 600MB/s, which is considerably more than 128MB/s. In my company I daily transfer massive collections of CAD drawings back and forth from office to office, and from office to home. When I have a huge project, I put in hours at home as well, and it would be much easier for me if I had that kind of connection speed. And fiber, by the way, is cheaper per megabit BY FAR then copper. The newly ratified 10gigabit standard (which is nowhere near full utilization of fiber, what with frequency multiplexing technology), allows 60gigabit/second to be transfered over 12-strand 50micron multimode cable, which comes in at about $.90/foot. What an end user needs is simply two strands (transmit/recieve pair), which can be scaled up to whatever bandwidth is necessary. It may seem expensive, but fiber has been here a long time, and it's here to stay, so we may as well utilize it rather than saying "100baseTX is good enough for me." Is 640K really enough for you?
        • Well there are other reasons to want to work from home as well. For instance when you work with a production system for any sort of data manipulation there are often access restrictions. This is starting to become a much bigger deal for me. The agency I work for is considering severely limiting outside access to any of our boxes from outside our network, even development boxes. However the precursor data for our processing is publicly available to me at home. If I could have the bandwidth to pull in the raw data I could run a local development box at home and continue development even when I can't get to work. (I work around DC and today for instance is a snow emergency day.) I'm not saying that fiber is for everyone, but there are those of us out there who are interested and aren't waiting for prices to drop to $50 a month. =)
        • by eah ( 240538 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @02:25PM (#5251983) Homepage

          Go to work.

          Waa waa waa. You sound just like my boss.
          I suppose that when I get there you'll want me to actaully _do_ work, too...

          And work from there,

          Yep, that's what I thought...
        • Why go to work? There are many reason to stay home.

          I takes about a gallon of gas to get to work, and another back home. I have a compuer at home that I can run for far less energy than that. Enviormental concerns make staying home often a big win.

          I live in Minnesota where we have to deal with snow. In most cases you can drive to work, while it is snowing, but it is not safe. The less people on the road when the weather turns bad, the better for those who must drive (emergency services). We get bad weather often enough up here that no company can afford to tell everyone to stay home everytime it gets a little dangerious. If instead we have a choice, the company can just cancle all on-site meetings, declare it a work day where work from home is prefered, they can get all the work done without potentialy killing someone.

          When support calls at 3am for help with a serious problem they don't want to wait for me to get up and drive to the office (an hour) when I could go to the computer and start solving the problem in minutes. Okay, this shouldn't happen often, but if your not willing to get up at 3am to solve a critical customer problem in your area of expertise, then you are worthless - just don't let it get out of hand.

          When the problems get really hard I get more done at home. At the office there are distractions, people coming by to ask questions. Sure I can blow them off, but I loose my train of thought. At home there are no distractions to deal with. (Not true for everyone of course)

          Illness is a problem. Sure I have sick leave, but I'd prefer to avoid using it (Extra vacation). When I can't get out of bed fine. When I'm contagious, but feel up to moving, then I'd prefer to do something. I've went to work somewhat sick, because I didn't feel like staying home that day. I've worked from home many of those days and not spread whatever I had. When you consider that many people have children who get sick while the parent is perfectly able to work, and it makes more sense to have the ability to work from home.

          And last, if insperation strikes in the middle of the night, I want to get it down then, not hope I remember in the morning. This is a two edged sword, some middle of the night insperations are worthless, but if you use version control you can just back them out. (Though I don't recomend making a habit of these ideas unless you can take the night hours off your normal day shift, otherwise you loose)

      • but for us fiber to the home would be great, and something I'd be willing to pay a premium for.

        The problem is that you don't live in Silicon Valley, more specfically Palo Alto []. Of course, then affording a home is another problem.

        I swear, Palo Alto is the only place in the world where a million dollars gets you a pink, two bedroom house in a flood zone....

      • Instead of paying the Baby Bells would you accept a moderate increase in your local taxes?
        My hometown of Knoxville needed more high tech businesses in order to increase it's job market and keep up with the number of people moving into the area, so the mayor ( as a person he sucks, but as a city admin he rules) went to California during it's power troubles and handed out flashlights asking companies like Cisco what Knoxville could do to get them to move there.
        The answer he recieved was rather simple, cheaper bandwidth. They already had huge tax breaaks for companies moving to their area, land was cheap as is power, so he got a small tax increase on properties ( 0.3%) and just spent $11 million on Fiber for the entire industrial area. Now the best part of his plan was this, the city owned the fiber so it set the prices, local ISP's could very cheaply tap into, and for a larger increase in the business tax they would string it towards neighborhoods, and smaller more commercial businesses.
        I have no idea how things are going to work out, they are laying the cables right now using interstate and highway construction to build their backbone (if you've ever been to Knoxvegas you understand that that is the best way, they haven't stopped working on the freakin' interstate since '76). And it's hard to tell how the local ISP's are going to go considering that if the tap into it their taxes will go up, but they won't have to lease off of BellSouth.
        So my question is simple, would you pay you city government to do it for you?
    • At the current state of the net, your hard drive is of N size. You can transmit all the data at some relatively large time.

      Now imagine if the numbers were reversed, that you can transmit your entire hard drive at the speed of your hard drive. Sure, you can saturate the line if everyone transmits at the same time, but imagine once the initial burst of everyone hitting the button at once. You might have that one person who wants to download someone else's hard drive, but it'd be over fast enough that if it were queue'd, it would be a short waiting time.

      Esentially, all bottle necks would go away as speed goes infinite. If we can get the bandwidth high enough, it will be close to infinite, and the bottle necks would go away. Of course, that is as long as the speed of transmiting your entire drive is much MUCH lower than your bandwidth and the number of requests die down. Hopefully you wouldn't hve 1k people asking for a copy of your drive every 10 seconds :)

      Just a thought...
      • Of course we want it, if everyone had fiber think of the speed at which viruses would spread through Microsoft OSes...
    • How does downloading a full quality DVD in 30 minutes sound to you? A little faster then Netflix, isn't it?

      But then again, who needs more then 640k of memory anyways?
    • Good question: why would we want fiber?

      Lets look at it from the point of view of a cable company:

      Right now, ntl [] in the UK offer telephone, catv, and broadband. Their system is all completely fiber up until around 100-200 yards from the customers' houses.

      I see fiber not just for increasing internet speeds - eventually I see a single fiber line into the home, offering VoIP, or a higher-quality telephone connection; Tivo capabilities built into the headend; pausable PPV on demand (not every 30 mins); and of course, our ever increasing internet access speeds. With next-gen games consoles, you could even have these connected so that new levels/game updates are automatically applied (is that a good thing?)

      Thinking 'outside the box' can increase our thoughts on what sort of services are available via fiber lines straight into the home.


    • Seriously, why would we want fiber in the home? I have a cable modem and I'm perfectly happy with it. I think what would drive something like that is an application that requires it.

      Video. Unlimited on-demand video (at HDTV quality, not dinky 3mbps MPEG-II). Telephony. Video telephony. Really Neat Games (that won't be invented 'til lots of people have high-bandwidth connections.)

      All on one wire instead of three or four. Ultimately we will go to fiber, even if it's only because the cable and phone companies will want to be the first ones there. The question is whether we'll drag out the old technology for another five/ten years.

    • by VoidEngineer ( 633446 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @02:04PM (#5251817)
      For information on who wants it, and where it's being pioneered, check out the Chicago CivicNet [] project.


      Real-time, video-on-demand services which act as video phones, and replaces the telephone as the major telecommunications medium which American society uses.

      Real time autostereoscopic 3D television.

      Virtual reality applications, such as the Street, the Matrix, the University, ChalkBoard, and so forth. Imagine walking into a virtual classroom or office, from home, when it's too cold and snowy out to drive to school or work.

      Real time stock trading from your home to the local city's stock market or board of trade.

      Real time browsing of Hubble Telescope data and Sloan data...

      Imagine all of this in 1200x1600 32 bit color resolution, in stereoscopic 3D. And imagine it running 100 times faster than your current DSL connection.

      That's why you want fiber in the home, and that's why people like Mayor Daley and 60+ corporations in Chicago are working to make it happen...
    • Try backing your hard drive up over DSL/Cable. Worse, try restoring the contents to a new drive over DSL/Cable. Internet backup would be wonderful if it wasn't so damn slow. Figure in an office where network backup is routine, the wires run 100 to 1000 times faster than dsl/cable.

      That tape drive you use to backup your files today won't do you much good if your house goes up in flames and takes the backup tapes with it.

    • Yeah, I've also heard that when 9600 bps modems came out some people said that they were too fast because you could download text faster than you could read it. Now I've got a 256/128K ADSL, and wouldn't mind having something faster.
    • I seem to recall a certain Billy G, or B Gates if you prefer, say we only needed 640k of ram a few years back. Now if I told you i had 640k of ram in my box, you'd cackle at me like I proclaimed Win3.1 better than Red Hat 8.0. Today we probably DONT need fiber, but tomorrow, who knows? I know if I could double my bandwidth I'd jump at the chance (cable modem currently, DSL really isnt an option at the moment).

      Maybe instead of stifling technology with idiotic "its fast enough" thoughts you should think before you type.
    • Fiber can deliver many services (not just internet access) to the home. If we had a publicly-owned fiber infrastructure, you could have 50 cable companies competing to give you service over the fiber instead of a local monopoly. You could have 20 ISPs offering internet access instead of two or three. You could have dozens of phone companies offering phone service over the pipe instead of a local quasi-monopoly and several "competitors" that use its lines.

      Instead, Michael Powell has decided that unregulated monopolies (and probably a good deal of subsidies) are what's needed to build fiber infrastructure.
    • Currently, I doubt that 99.9% of the population would need fiber to the home.

      Fiber SHOULD be run to the distribution point on your street though, then there would be none of the 4km to the central office bull.

      Then everyone could have a 7.5Mbps line to their home.

      But that raises the question, what to do with all that bandwidth? I currently have a 2.5Mbps DSL line to my house, and there are few sites that I can obtain maximum speed from, it would be like having a a high end sports car but no pavment to drive it on.

  • by Aviancer ( 645528 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:35PM (#5251541) Homepage Journal
    The article points out that the major reason the bells (er, bell; hasn't SBC bought all the others yet?) don't want to do this is because they are required to lease out the lines to competitors.

    So why not swap business models and become a service provider to the "competitors" instead of "end users." This gives you the incentive to build the infrastructure.

    • I expect that the rate of return for simply leasing out lines is not significant enough to depend on it. Raise those prices, and it will be passed onto the consumer, making it less attractive. Infrastructure is a huge outlay, and most attactive when put together with your own subscriber base.
    • Because the Bells are forced to sell access to
      their networks at below cost. (according to them)
    • Simple. Because right now they aren't allowed to set their own pricing. In the name of competition, the government is forcing the ILECs to lease their lines out below cost. Think about it. If you were a phone company, why would you invest tons of cash to install new lines if you knew you were going to be forced to lease them out to other companies at a loss? If you want the ILECs to spend cash on fiber to the home, you've got to make sure you give them a way to recoup the costs of the investment and turn a profit.
      • In the name of competition, the government is forcing the ILECs to lease their lines out below cost.

        Actually, they are forcing the ILECs to lease the lines out below market, which is quite a bit different than below cost. It doesn't make the situation much better, as the ILECs still "lose" money in the deal. But isn't that what competition is all about?
    • The article points out that the major reason the bells (er, bell; hasn't SBC bought all the others yet?) don't want to do this is because they are required to lease out the lines to competitors.

      The article I read said no such thing. It said that the Bells were being less than honest about their reasons and pointed out significant promisses that had not been kept to get the regulatory environment that favors them today. Now, having not kept their promisses, they ask for more favors citing a few things they wish to change as reasons for their stuborness. Wake up, will you.

    • I've dreamed of such an arragement, too, but the FCC will not force the Bells to limit their business to infrastructure only. It would be a boon for competition that companies layer themselves much like a protocol stack, but vertical integration brings economies of scale that are lucrative and irresistible.

      Asking the Bells to simply sell access to their infrastructure and refrain from competing in the retail market is akin to asking Microsoft to concentrate only on operating systems. Yes, it would prevent an unfair advantage and encourage competition, but this quickly becomes a political discussion on the relative merits of regulation, which is a slippery slope indeed.
  • Just a question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:36PM (#5251544) Journal
    With all the bandwidth that can be squeezed out of copper, offered by fibre, 3G wireless, etc..

    Will we ever see CD-quality (mono, but 44.1khz mono) phones?

    Surely they could be introduced as a backwards-compatible upgrade.
    • by johnny cashed ( 590023 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:40PM (#5251591) Homepage
      are you kidding? The phone system could be used to copy music.
      • DRM phones

        I just want to be able to tell if the 1-900 girl is having an orgasm or an asthma attack.

        Sound quality of phones suck ass.
        • I just want to be able to tell if the 1-900 girl is having an orgasm or an asthma attack.

          Who cares if she is really having an orgasm? I just want to be sure its not a fricking guy on the other end of the phone.

    • I'd much rather use that bandwidth for video phones, cheaply available, a la the Jetsons. Audio quality is good enough for now, I think -- once we have good video, then they can send audio muxed with it.
    • Yeah - as soon as you can get studio-quality microphones and speakers under 1cm diameter for under $5 :)
    • Re:Just a question (Score:3, Informative)

      by roderickm ( 6912 )
      Sure, you can have a CD-quality telephone call, but you need to agree with your called party on the codec. Radio stations and audio production houses have been sending high-quality audio over ISDN [] for years.

      More specifically, I don't expect high-quality calls to become widespread, because there's always a profit-driven compromise between call capacity and quality. The telephone company will never offer higher quality audio on a widespread basis if it cuts their overall capacity and thus, profit.
  • Blah... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:38PM (#5251565)
    "Maybe at some point state and Federal regulators will realize that the Bells are the problem, not the solution."

    Regulator: You know, the Bells might actually be the problem, it is in their best interest to make money after all. Maybe we all that money! Thank you kind, sir!
  • by DirtyJ ( 576100 )
    Paradoxically, increasing fiber in the home would lead to an increase in the laying of cable.
  • Who needs fiber to the home? You can do 10Gig E over twisted pair dirt cheap. Fiber is great for the backbone, but who honestly needs it to the house or within the house for anything but bragging rights?
    • I live in an area that is often losing phone service because of trenching cutting phone lines. It takes long enough now to get service back up with good old copper, I can only imagine what their downtime will be with fiber. According to their dream (TV, Telephone, Internet on one fiber) - I could lose everything for quite a while. I kind of like the seperation of services.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Bandwidth over copper decreases over distance. Transmission lines tend to act as natural low pass filters.

      Gig E works great over short distances, get a few Kft from the CO and your toast.

      Most of the ILECS use DMT modulation for thier ADSL service. It uses complex multiple RF cariers to place the service onto the line. DSP's provide the requisite equalisation and power level monitoring to make it work.

      Currently they(we)seem to be able to provide 1.5 Mbps out to 15 Kft and 760 Kbps out to 18 Kft

  • The problem we're quickly heading towards is one we've already delt with here in the US. Bell was broken up for a reason, and it wasn't to let SBC and Verizon glue it back together.
  • The article. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:41PM (#5251602)

    Copper Lines Regaining Luster
    With the Obstacles to Fiber, Phone Companies Are Tapping the Old Infrastructure

    By Jonathan Krim
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, February 7, 2003; Page E01

    For years, replacing the nation's copper telephone wires with fiber-optic cable has offered a promise of digital heaven: quick downloading of full-length movies from the Internet; phone companies offering television programming to compete with cable; two-way, interactive video for online gaming, education and medicine.

    But the regional telephone giants also have warned that as long as they are required to lease those fiber networks to competitors, they will be unwilling to spend significant sums to build them.

    Now, with the Federal Communications Commission ready to revamp its competition rules in the next two weeks, many telephony experts, financial analysts and some phone company officials say that even if the former Bell telephone companies get the regulatory relief they seek, fiber to people's homes will remain a far-off dream.

    Not only does stringing fiber to the home remain enormously expensive, but advances in technology allow significantly faster connection speeds to be squeezed out of the country's 1.5 billion miles of existing copper lines.

    Tests in engineering labs and in a handful of areas around the country are yielding Internet connection speeds five to 50 times as fast as what is now considered "broadband" digital-subscriber-line service offered over phone lines.

    "I'm amazed and encouraged with what we can do with our copper network," said William L. Smith, chief technology officer of BellSouth Corp., the regional phone company in the Southeast. "I still want to have fiber to every home and every business, but there's a lot we can do with copper."

    Industry giant Verizon Communications Inc., the dominant local phone provider from Maine to Virginia, has run engineering tests in which DSL speeds were increased from a maximum of 1.5 megabits per second to 7 megabits per second, without additional fiber. That would more than enable the video applications that many technology companies say would make broadband more attractive to consumers and jump-start the struggling sector.

    Qwest Communications International Inc., which primarily serves the Rocky Mountain region, has for three years served a handful of communities with a full menu of television programming, equivalent to cable packages, over its copper lines using a technology known as VDSL (very-high-data-rate DSL).

    "Copper is far from dead," said Steve Starliper, vice president of consumer product management for Qwest, which has 50,000 VDSL customers in Colorado and Arizona.

    Although deploying VDSL requires extending fiber lines deeper into neighborhoods, that has cost Qwest far less than it would have had it dug up people's yards or driveways to pull fiber into their houses.

    But such advances have drawn little notice in the debate in Washington as the FCC nears decisions on a variety of regulations that will govern telephone and broadband competition.

    The former Bells and their supporters continue to press the case that easing their obligations to lease lines to other phone companies would put them on equal footing to compete against cable firms -- and is the key to unlocking investment in a fiber future.

    "We cannot expect [the phone companies] to invest in and deploy new facilities when they are required to share such facilities with competitors at below-market prices," said a recent letter to the FCC signed by 22 members of the House of Representatives who support the former Bell companies' position. "While access to broadband services transmitted over copper loops has increased over the past several years, such services pale in comparison to the types of capabilities that consumers could enjoy if fiber accounted for a greater portion of so-called last-mile facilities."

    Critics of the former Bells fear that changing the rules would stifle competition for local telephone service and high-speed Internet access, all in the interest of fiber upgrades that the big regional companies have little intention of making.

    Some Wall Street analysts say FCC regulations have little to do with why the former Bell companies are not making capital expenditures.

    "Myth 1: RBOC [phone company] spending is down because of the current . . . regulatory environment" that discourages investment in upgrading their networks, wrote a team of telecommunications stock analysts at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

    Instead, like most telecommunications companies, the former Bells binged on spending during the bubble years of the late 1990s, according to the analysts. They added that the companies' targets of spending a collective $19 billion this year is 10 percent less than what they spent in 1995, the year before Congress ordered their networks opened to competition.

    Only when the phone companies' core economic picture improves will heavy investment resume, the analysts wrote.

    FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell, who recently circulated proposed rules to the other four FCC commissioners, is seeking to ease requirements on the phone companies as part of his broad philosophy that the country needs to migrate to a digital platform.

    "The phone companies are sitting on aging infrastructure," Powell said in a recent interview. "Copper wire will end its life."

    Sources familiar with Powell's draft proposals say the rules would eliminate leasing obligations for fiber lines built to new residential or commercial developments, where there is no existing telephone service.

    Less clear is what the FCC will decide in cases where fiber is driven deeper into neighborhoods before connecting with the copper wires that serve individual homes, or is strung to homes where copper service already exists.

    The former Bells want any fiber upgrades to trigger regulatory relief, but sources say the commission is looking at maintaining some leasing obligations based on the extent of the upgrade. Under this scenario, the greater the upgrade to fiber, with corresponding increases in the speed of sending and receiving online transmissions, the lesser the sharing requirements would be.

    Many telecommunications experts and industry executives agree that fiber to the home is broadband's Holy Grail, a "future-proof" technology that can offer speeds 100 times as fast as today's DSL and accommodate uses not even currently contemplated.

    In the long run, pure fiber networks also are cheaper to operate and maintain than copper or fiber-copper marriages, because fewer switching terminals and other electronics are required. About 22,000 homes have fiber service.

    But fiber to the home "is just economically not viable," said John M. Cioffi, a professor of engineering at Stanford University and one of the country's foremost experts on DSL technology. "Even if [the phone companies] had the money, the labor is exhaustive. Realistically, fiber could be a century away."

    Cioffi contends that VDSL, a technology that has been around for years, is the only logical alternative. The challenge is to push fiber lines to within 3,000 to 4,000 feet of homes and then hook the copper wires from those houses into the fiber. In this way, Cioffi said, the cost of laying the fiber is shared by many customers. At that distance, speeds of 52 megabits per second are possible, Cioffi said, which is more than adequate for high-end video applications, including high-definition television.

    In many cases, the fiber from the carrier's central facility to the neighborhood can be pulled through the same conduits that carry existing phone lines, minimizing additional trenching costs and disruption.

    What VDSL provides is what many analysts say is an essential "triple play" of services for the phone companies: telephone, Internet and television programming. Otherwise, analysts say, cable firms -- which already provide Internet and television services -- will add telephone service and leave the former Bells in the dust.

    The other regional phone companies have been watching Qwest's VDSL deployment closely but are not sold.

    Christopher T. Rice, senior vice president for network planning and engineering at SBC Communications Inc., said his company has decided that pulling fiber all the way to the home is more cost efficient in the long run. But he said extensive stringing of fiber is at least 10 years away.

    The former Bells say that any expansion of broadband capability is expensive and will be made based on cold calculations of demand for faster service and how quickly the investment will pay off.

    In this challenging economic environment, they argue, every cost, including requirements to lease networks to competitors, must be factored in. They add that in places where their network facilities are so old that they need to be replaced, they are investing to make them capable of handling fiber.

    Phone executives point out that even if they could flip a switch today and offer higher speeds to current DSL users, they would have to increase the cost to subscribers to cover the expense of using larger portions of the Internet "backbone," the central pipes that crisscross the country.

    And consumers have yet to demonstrate a strong desire for higher speeds. Residential DSL and equivalent service provided over cable television lines rarely provide speeds over 1 megabit per second. And while such service is gaining traction with consumers, at $40 to $50 per month, only 13 percent of households have it.

    "We're really focused on our existing DSL products to meet what customers are looking for now," said Peter Castleton, executive director of broadband products for Verizon.

    Qwest offers its residential VDSL customers only two speeds, neither of which exceeds what is possible on DSL. Company officials said they are evaluating whether to extend VDSL to more neighborhoods.

    Even Grande Communications in Texas, one of a handful of small companies that have strung fiber to residential areas, offers customers a top speed of 2.5 megabits per second, with slower speeds at lower prices.

    State regulators, who set certain rules and rates and who oppose changes to the FCC's rules, worry that the former Bells are executing a well-honed strategy: Promise dazzling broadband networks in exchange for regulatory relief, then pull back.

    In Pennsylvania, Bell Atlantic, which later became Verizon, promised state regulators in 1994 that over a 20-year period, it would deliver a broadband network capable of speeds of 45 megabits per second, according to public filings.

    State public service commission officials say the company has deployed roughly 22 percent of what should be in operation. The commission is considering sanctions against the company.

    In California, public service commissioner Loretta Lynch said that SBC and its predecessor, Pacific Bell, did little to deploy high-speed networks, even when they were economically flush.

    The regional phone companies have been careful not to make promises. And some technology companies, desperate for broadband deployment to spur new spending and growth, say they understand the Bells' history with regulators.

    Any telecommunications investment now is inherently risky, and the government needs to eliminate barriers to help make it more attractive, they say.

    "Our support for this is not based on commitments," said Peter K. Pitsch, a lobbyist for Intel Corp. and an organizer of a coalition of technology companies urging the FCC to make changes -- though not to go as far as the former Bells would like. "It's based on the belief that they are more likely to do it if it's more attractive. . . . And in the longer term, they are going to want to do it. And have to do it."

    © 2003 The Washington Post Company

  • why fiber? (Score:4, Funny)

    by jlazzaro74 ( 613844 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:43PM (#5251621)
    Why would I want fiber? I have this perfectly good Tin Can with String(tm) and String Extention Kit(tm). Sure I have to be within 8' of my service provider, but hey, if you don't live on top of a Bell, you don't deserve access anyhow. I live in the middle of Pasadena CA, a fairly large and urban city, and still couldn't get DSL for years. It's not just the boonies that can't get it.
  • High Speed Network (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:43PM (#5251622) Journal
    The problem really isn't copper or Fiber. One part of the problem is competition or lack thereof. Another is where I see all of this going and that is convergence, integration of media, telco and Network access.

    Two solutions which are mutually exclusive are Regulated Monopoly and Unfrettered Competition. In the case of Utilities, Regulated Monopoly is actually the best solution, but only if the regulation has performance guarantees. The other solution, Total and free competition could be implemented with support from LOCAL municipalities.

    In either case the local governments should be involved in garnering the cooperation of the utilities, by issuing the proper Right of ways to bring last mile service to the consumer. Further, all new developements should be requiring the building of the pathways for the coming digital covergence.

    My $0.02 worth (Actual value may be different).
  • by ( 450073 ) <> on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:44PM (#5251632) Homepage Journal
    Maybe at some point state and Federal regulators will realize that the Bells are the problem, not the solution.

    Wow. Micheal didn't even read the article...

    FTFA: "But the regional telephone giants also have warned that as long as they are required to lease those fiber networks to competitors, they will be unwilling to spend significant sums to build them."

    That was part of the settlement in the 80's (?). They are not being anal about it, they are saying they are trying to follow the rules imposed on them.

    You name me one person or company that is going to drop millions to TRY beef up their own profit margin, just so they can have others do the exact same.

    1) Lay a ton of fiber out of your own pocket.
    2) Let other companys use it.
    3) ???
    4) Profit!
    • "You name me one person or company that is going to drop millions to TRY beef up their own profit margin, just so they can have others do the exact same."

      Well, companies that aren't monopolies do it all the time. It is called competition.

      It is the reason companies spend millions upgrading computer equipment or other capital type spending... because they are afraid their competition might start producing better quality work more quickly... It would make so much more sense for companies just to agree not to compete and they wouldn't have to spend money on anything new. Real companies make an investment and don't know if it is going to make you more money, but rather sometimes it just means you will maintain your position in the marketplace relative to your competion.

      If local telecoms had real competition, ie multiple companies with their own wires, then we wouldn't have to worry about regulations. But only so many people can string wire on poles or bury it in the street before the Department of Public Works gets pissy or Utility poles start falling over.

      Hmm... seems like these companies are arguing that they should be able to use a public right of way to the exclusion of others and make all the money they can. Sounds nice... as long as I own the telecom company.
  • by captainfugacity ( 639946 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:45PM (#5251646)
    The Bells are not the problem. The problem is the rules which they must follow for 'fair market.' Yes the Bells play a rough game focused on money rather than cutting edge products and service; they HAVE to or they'll go bankrupt. Pretend you own a pizza parlor. The government comes in and says "from now on competitors will be allowed to sell pizzas from your store. If you add a new pizza to the menu, you must provide the new pizza BELOW cost to the competitor. You must fill their orders for new pizza before you fill your own, blah blah." You have two choices: play as dirty as you legally can to make money to pay the lease for your pizza store, or start offering new pizzas (which the customers want) and go bankrupt because you lose money on every order. Now I agree that upper management of the Bells is a bunch of thiefs...but so are all CEOs.
    • If you add a new pizza to the menu, you must provide the new pizza BELOW cost to the competitor.

      Of course, you define "cost", and since you have absolutely no competition, "cost" is whatever the hell you want it to be. Miraculously, it gets higher whenever you go in front of a regulatory board to explain how royally you're getting screwed.

      I recall when AT&T used to tell the government that they could not possibly forced to open up their networks, do this, or do that, because their cost to provide service was so high. Within a few years of the breakup, they were selling services for far less than what they'd recently claimed was their cost, and making a decent profit at it, too.

  • by fruey ( 563914 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:45PM (#5251650) Homepage Journal
    Indeed... the articles states it, bringing high speed to the customer means requiring more backbone bandwidth to accomodate.

    This may be true to an extent, but what the article fails to mention are mitigating circumstances:- higher speed from home to provider means that the provider might be more interested in better proxying and providing services (especially TV) that they themselves get via satellite feeds. Community networks running highspeed services like CCTV monitoring of communal areas like shopping centers are possible. You don't have to give all that highspeed all the way across the Internet, just getting local highspeed to your mail server, hosted web server, and specialised content would be pretty cool.

  • UWB, WiFi...hello? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:50PM (#5251683)
    Its been obvious for years now that no one is going to rewire the neighborhoods of America. We are waiting for wireless data connections to get fast cheap and plentiful. Until then you have DSL and cable modem at best.

    Fiber to the home has never been a serious consideration and in fact only would re-establish the same monopolies we have now - a wire can only have one owner.

    • Until then you have DSL and cable modem at best

      hah! I Wish I could get cable or DSL. I'm not close enough to my local switching station for DSL to work and cable costs a small fortune if you don't have (or want) cable TV.

      It's also worth noting that I don't live in middle america - I live in New York City. As it is I pay $5 a month for Dialup. Believe me, I'd get DSL if I could.

  • by ahfoo ( 223186 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:56PM (#5251735) Journal
    Spending most of the last ten years in Taiwan, it's becoming very odd for me when I go back to the States and find even harcore nerds still using modems. Broadband has been cheaper than modem use here for almost four years now. Clearly something very ugly is going on in the US telecoms markets.
    It is amusing to note that internationally if you look at where the cheap broadband is, you see very little correlation between deregulation and low rates with the US being the perfect example of where it just doesn't work. Perhaps unregulated competition isn't the panacea it's billed as. After all, what makes a mega corporate bureaucracy inherently more efficient than its government counterpart where this is at least some possibility of accountability.
    I think the obvious answer in the States is what we're already beginning to see sprinkled around here and there which is broadband as a community utility like the highways or the water or the power. There are those who say that this is somehow a danger to freedoms of speech, but I don't quite follow the logic there when we have Verizon ratting out their users as it is.
  • by roderickm ( 6912 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @01:56PM (#5251744)
    Let's run through the typical "last mile" options:
    • Copper pairs - aging, installed almost everywhere, with metropolitan runs below fifteen thousand feet or so supporting some form of DSL. Great for switched voice (POTS), not bad for midrange bandwidth data (DSL), not a lot of lang-term future possibility, but cheap and already installed.
    • Coax cable - Almost exclusively controlled by cable television companies, more expensive than a simple copper pair but cheap enough to deliver to all but the most rural areas. Much greater bandwidth than POTS or DSL, also with low latency well-suited to voice or video calls.
    • Satellite - Reaches nearly everyone in North American than can see the southern sky, nearly all fixed cost structure, and low marginal cost to add a user/subscriber. High latency, but huge bandwidth well-suited to broadcasting the same material to all users.

    This article brings to light the fact that fiber to the curb just isn't practical now. My wife works for a company that attempted a speculative fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) build for a neighborhood in Colorado, and the project (among other factors) sent her employer into Chapter 11. FTTC is sexy, yes, but it's just not within economic reach yet.

    I've said for a couple years now that cable companies truly have the broadband advantage, but they waste their bandwidth to the curb by competing for television subscriptions. The massive installed base of coax has a much greater bandwidth than your POTS copper pair, but rarely is it used to its full potential.

    Owners of huge cable plants will eventually let television delivery fall to satellite deliver (high latency, high broadcast bandwidth) while your everyday coax cable will be more used for low-latency, highly interactive bandwidth like voice and data. Satellite for broadcast, cable for interactive voice/video/data services, and let the POTS pairs finish off their remaining useful life.

    If more folks would get reasonable about the realistic uses for fiber (long haul, high bandwidth aggregation circuits) by reading salient articles like this one, we'd more quickly be able to enjoy true broadband in many forms of delivery. It's just going to take more people in decision-making positions that realize the appropriate use of the technologies we have at hand.
  • Regulation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday February 07, 2003 @02:02PM (#5251802) Homepage Journal
    The important point is that once you regulate you have to keep regulating. Regulation MAY be bad for consumers; Deregulation IS bad for consumers.

    The FCC has ruined DSL by requiring that the telco be responsible for quality but third parties not. In other words, if covad DSL gives you poor performance, you have nothing to fall back on but your terms of service. If pacbell DSL gives you poor performance (lower than rated, or any significant downtime) then you can call the FCC and they'll fine SBC $500.

    Regulation must be undertaken carefully, deregulation moreso. They deregulated the power companies in California, where are we now?

    • Re:Regulation (Score:2, Interesting)

      They deregulated the power companies in California, where are we now?

      What happened in California wasn't deregulation; it was something that the politicians called "deregulation" but had about as much to do with real deregulation as Bill Clinton had to do with protecting the honor of chaste young women.

      Please don't blame California's power problems on deregulation. Deregulation of electric power has never been tried in California.

  • Say what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ZoneGray ( 168419 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @02:03PM (#5251814) Homepage
    >> the Baby Bell PR-speak that deregulation is the solution to everything

    Say what? They THRIVE on regulation; the most significant of course, is their ongoing monopoly over the last mile.

    Christmas, the FCC's response to deregulation is to write a bunch of regulations regulating how deregulation is supposed to happen. The article notes "the Federal Communications Commission [is] ready to revamp its competition rules in the next two weeks..." Good grief. Trying to manage "competition" is regulation, plain and simple. If we were really deregulating, we could dismantle 98% of the FCC. Which, of course, is why they interpret "deregulation" the way they do.

    This kind of "deregulation" is a sham, it's just an invitation to the various players to ante up some campaign contributions and expensive lunches. As long as we have the last-mile monopolies and an FCC that thinks it knows how structure the industry, then we're going to get screwed by the telecom companies. If you side with the Baby Bells or the Long-Distance carriers, you're just choosing between missionary and doggy.
  • I just watched fibre being installed at a friend's house last week in the Natomas area of Sacramento. According to the installation tech, the service is available over all of Sacramento; though not in the eastern suburbs yet. The provider is called SureWest. The beauty of the fibre is that the service is only $50, provides 10 MB connection, and you can also get your phone and cable through the same connection. I wanted to move there just to get the connection.
  • by Asprin ( 545477 ) <> on Friday February 07, 2003 @02:12PM (#5251887) Homepage Journal

    More justification why "The Phone Company" is at the top of my poop list.... If I ever lose my marbles and go Fight-Club-Tyler-Durden loonie, the phone companies are easily the first on my list of things to be eliminated. They go before the credit card companies, before the RIAA, before the SPAMMERS!

    They peddle more (in volume AND quality) self-intoxicating raw sewage in the name of justifying their back-assed ridiculous business practices than all the other annoying people in the world combined. Anybody that's ever tried to decipher a phone bill knows what I'm talking about - FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! HAVE YOU SEEN TODAY'S DITHERATI []?!?!



    Oh, time for my little blue pill again...

    ...(whew!) .... [drool]......

    Anyway, the only reason we have to put up with these bastards is because we can't live without their stupid service and running new cables to every address in America would be prohibitively expensive. Just brainstorming here, but let's say wireless networking doesn't pan out as a alternative to replace copper and/or fiber for last-mile cable across-the-board. What would happen if congress authorized the FCC (eminent domain in the public interest) to forcibly take control of the copper from the phone companies? They do it with dirt where I live when they say, "We need to expand the airport next to your home. Here's fair market value for your house, now go away."

    Sure, I got my doubts, (for one you have to assume the government can maintain that infrastructure better than the private sector) but at least the local telcos' exclusive position of control would be eliminated.
    Them's a lot of hassles. Me? I'm pulling for wireless.

  • I'll state my position straight out by saying that I would love to have fiber to my house. There are a few reasons for and against it.

    I know that unless the phone company can charge you alot more they won't run it to your house. And deregulation.... blah blah.... bells.... blah blah.....

    But there are some advantages. The first is that some phone company should hook up with a cable company. This would give the phone company that owned the lines the ability to have a new market (cable tv.) Not only that, but they can offer the high res stuff on their fiber network only (and only have the lower res stuff on the legacy network of the cable company they bought.)

    The other advantage of have just fiber is you reduce the # of lines to a house to 1 and always 1. (most houses nowadays have 6-pair ran to them with at least 1 pair bad.) Which means that your not maintaining multiple lines. (And you don't have to train your people on line shares and simular tech.)

    But here's the problem: you only have 1 line, when it goes out everythings gone. Which means that they'd probally need to guarentee 1 day turn around for everyone. (which SBC does for businesses right now from what I understand.)

    The other advantage is extreamly high speed I-net access, which can now be billed per GB transfered at a standard utility rate like your gas or electric. Or pay some ungodly unlimited fee or choke it back to what bandwidth the person pays for. But the first option seems the best for speeds like this.
  • i remember reading a few years ago that the still state owned telecommunications company were installing fibre to every door. Anybody got the lowdown on how it worked out?

  • by ibbie ( 647332 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @02:20PM (#5251944) Journal
    then finally, everyone - plebs and lusers alike - will understand what the internet is all about.

    fast, streaming porn, on a 24/7 connection. yee-haw.
  • Fiber to the house, a single machine or TV per coax, all laid new. If you are lucky enough to live in their service area they are EXCELLENT. Their service makes comcast, and at&t look STOOPID. We take phone, cable, and web from them at a very reasonable rate with a nice discount for multiple services. Our cable rate is 20% lower than at&t and 17% below comcast. There is absolutely NO COMPARISON between net services...ASTOUND wins in all measurable categories.
  • by CharlieO ( 572028 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @02:31PM (#5252042)
    Extra bandwidth is not the universal pancea.

    If I browse a website that runs on a T1 link, there is no point me having greater bandwidth than a T1 link.

    So say Joe Public gets 10Mb ethernet to his home - is it really going to improve things if the server bandwidth is not upgraded?

    Why is there this persistan assumption that the last mile is the ONLY problem?

    The current economics of ISPs works because they can share an expensive guarenteed rate pipe amongst a number of customers.

    If the bandwidth to the customer becomes comparable to the bandwidth to the ISP, and the customer demands the use of that bandwidth 24/7, then the dynamics change and the price rises.

    Over in the UK we are already seeing bandwidth restrictions on DSL ISPs, because 24/7 users are saturating the ISP's pipe.

    Its only going to work if the backhaul services used by ISPs also increase at the same capacity\cost ratio.
    • ...if you're in the UK. In Japan, Korea and Taiwan, you're just poking along if you've got a measly 22mbs link coming into your apartment.

      The problem here in the states, and I suspect UK, is that most cable companies and phone companies aren't allowed to go head to head and compete. Most cities limit their cable franchises to one provider and their phone franchises to one provider. In regions where companies compete for customers, rates drop and service goes up. []

  • "Maybe at some point state and Federal regulators will realize that the Bells are the problem, not the solution."

    OK, I don't know enough about the phone situation in the US to comment on the subject, but is this line REALLY necessary? I mean it's flat out incitement and misdirection--personal opinion masquerading as factual content.
  • Obviousally none of you have ever had to work with fiber.

    Ever splice a fiber? if you are lucky enough to have a fusion splicer (Only $80,000.00USD) it's easy. how about adding a connector to it?

    Quit wishing for something that is a complete and utter bitch to work with. Besides, The telco's and even the internet backbone it's self isnt using the full capacity of the fiber they have, why would anyone want 10,000 base T internet acces only to stop at the POP location and drop back to the ultra slow backbones or worse yet T1 only for most sites, T3 if you are lucky. and many more even slower than the T1.

    fiber into the home is a waste of time, money and resources. do you really want your cable modem to go up in cost from a paltry $130.00 to $1300.00 because of the added costs of the laser, splitter/combiner/ etc?
  • Why not simply break up the costs? In a large city or even suburbia, start by getting fiber out to an area, then once you're close enough to make it a reasonable one-time installation fee, (or perhaps payable in installments over a given time frame, like most telephone installs are now), have the people who want fibre to their house get it.

    This kind of thing is *exactly* an example of technology that the high-paying bleeding edge early adopters can viably support, since their big bucks will bring the fibre closer and therefore cheaper to install to the common people. Aim at the gamers first. You could probably convince the people who pay hundreds of dollars on video cards, cooling gear, and their existing bandwidth to spend, say $2000 over the course of a year plus bandwidth costs (I already pay $100/month for my overpriced 1.5mbit dsl with a subnet of static IPs and phone service, I'd pay $250/mo for the first year if the bandwidth actually lived up to its promise).

    Of course, all of this requires the expectation of actually making money off of the venture in the end, once everyone has fibre in their homes. And that seems to be the key issue in this article, that if they build this, in the end they have to essentially give it away because of the regulations.
  • by rearden ( 304396 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @02:45PM (#5252183) Homepage
    One of the things often overlooked in the last mile debate is the effects that laying large amounts of Copper/Fiber/Etc in a local area. Not only are there cost associated with physically laying the cable but also longterm cost carried by the municipalities.

    One of the biggest problems here in Atlanta is the condition of the roads and the sewer system. Now, on the surface this may seem to not correlate to the laying cable but quite the opposite is true. Recently our new Mayor/ Admin team hired several consultants to review the condidtions of the roads (which anyone here can tell you are horrible) and to find out why our sewer upgade project is so far behind. The reason... the massive amount of incorrectly laid, documented or bad road repair work done during the .Com boom from laying cable. In essence all the road paches are breaking up and roads built to last 10 to 20 years are failing after only 3-7.

    The sewer and water project are held up by many problems, but a major one is the fact that as they go to lay new pipe they are find cable bundles that are unlabled and even if they do find out who owns them they dont know who controlls them any longer as many companies are bankrupt or in reorganization.

    The question becomes who has to bear the burden of cost of resolving the problems and questions? Do the taxpayers of a given town have to carry the cost of Big Business run amok laying miles of Fiber and Copper all over towns with little the local goverments can do to stop them?

    One of the little known provisions of the Telco Act of 1996 was that local goverments HAD TO give access/ right of way to new cable runs. For months the streets here in Atlanta were torn up and traffic was snarled- and there was nothing the City/ State could really do because each time they took action the FCC or courts would stop them. In fact several cable pull sites were left abandoned after the patron companies had long gone bankrupt, leaving the city/ taxpayers with the burden of doing road repair and close up work.

    So, while there are many options out there for the last mile, and Fiber or anyother may seem good often overlooked is the cost to the local infrastructure and municipalites.

    Just my 2 cents on a big topic with little results!
  • by jhouserizer ( 616566 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @02:48PM (#5252213) Homepage

    I build a house in a new neighborhood, which was outfitted by Qwest with pure fiber to every home. At first I thought this was cool... but four years later, nobody's offering any type of service on it (other than dial-tone) and I can't get DSL because my line's not copper.

    Fortunately, some local guys (about a mile away) have set up a 802.11b service, so I can get my Mbps... otherwise I'd be screwed!

  • by foxtrot ( 14140 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @03:21PM (#5252490)
    When DirectvDSL died, I tried switching to Speakeasy. In this area, DirectvDSL was on Bell South's hardware, but Speakeasy was on Covad's stuff. Either way, the loop belongs to BellSouth, but it meant switching my DSL line to a different CO.

    I had line problems on the Covad end-- the distance meant I should have easily been able to get 768k, maybe even a megabit, but I couldn't guarantee even 256k, sometimes I couldn't get a signal at all.

    Since the loop's owned by Bellsouth, Covad can't fix it, nor can they require Bellsouth to do so as long as it carries voice traffic "acceptibly".

    Now, it's easy to say, "Damn Bellsouth for giving Covad crappy lines and then not fixing them!" But then, given that Bellsouth's being forced by deregulation (now how's that for a misnomer?) to sell that line to Covad at below what it actually costs them to operate phone lines, it's no wonder they have no desire to make Covad's life easier, especially when it's quite likely that if it sucks I'll switch back to some ISP that's using BellSouth hardware. ...which is exactly what I did. Hard to fault the player when the real problem is the game...

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @04:01PM (#5252790)
    Lots of people are concentrating on the physical cable and its associated costs to install. What about the switching infrastrucure costs?

    A typical voice conversation requires around 64k/s of bandwidth. Now consider what type of switching infrastructure would be required if everyone had 100Mbps fiber at their house. Do you think that Verizon is going to canabalize their T1 buisinesses? At $400/mo. for a local loop, I don't think so.


    1. Consumer/small business grade high-bandwidth fiber costs alot to install.

    2. It requires that the telcos spend mega-bucks to upgrade their switching gear (possibly to photonic switching gear...$cha-ching$)

    3. It will canabalize their high-margin T1 business. (No there really isn't a viable competitor to this if you want static IP).

    4. And to top it all off, they've got to charge $40-$80/mo, or no consumers will buy it. (Some businesses will, but they are already spedning $800/mo. for T1s.)

    Higher costs and lower revenue. Now, explain why Verizon would WANT to do this?

  • by geekee ( 591277 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @05:49PM (#5253690)
    "Maybe at some point state and Federal regulators will realize that the Bells are the problem, not the solution."

    State and federal regulators gave ma bell the exclusive right to run phone cable in the first place. They gave the Bells their monopoly. The made the Bells what they are today. The quoted statement therefore is completely stupid. Regulators need to realize that THEY are the problem, not the solution.
  • by Gldm ( 600518 ) on Friday February 07, 2003 @07:16PM (#5254299)
    I mean who cares if you've got fiber if they're just going to throttle you to death like they do now? At home in NY I'm lucky, I can get 1m up 10m down (real world) cable. Out at school in SF, lucky is getting better than 144k/144k IDSL for $99/month. You might get 128/1.5 of which you see about 90/400. It's not that they can't deliver the bandwidth, you can pay ridiculous amounts for "business class" DSL which uses the same line and same modem from the same providers, just without speed locking. Why do we need a faster medium when they won't even let the existing medium run at full potential?

In every non-trivial program there is at least one bug.