Out where people wear hats The major telcos and top cable operators have long since determined that rural areas are too far from civilization to economically reach with DSL or coaxial cable. Yet, seemingly all of a sudden, there are service providers tripping over each other to make broadband available in the deepest, remotest recesses of North America.
We’ve got companies like WildBlue Communications and Galaxy Broadband Communications spending hundreds of millions of dollars to provide satellite-based broadband to the U.S. and Canada, respectively. Rummaging around on the web, it looks like the minimum cost just to build and launch one satellite is $90 million. Galaxy Broadband just lofted its first. WildBlue just put a second satellite in orbit to expand capacity.
Satellite broadband seems to be catching on. Total global revenues from monthly service fees for satellite broadband, plus sales of customer premise equipment (CPE) could exceed $5 billion by 2011, according to NSR. Granted, some of that activity is government supported or sponsored, but still, counting your dollars in billions is generally considered an interesting thing.
Meanwhile, utility.net, a Los Angeles-based broadband over power line (BPL) network provider, is working with Consumers Energy to begin rolling out commercial BPL to 10,000 homes in and around the city of Grand Ledge, Mich. Grand Ledge (pop. 7,813, as of 2000) claims only 3,262 homes, so if utility.net is honestly going for 10,000 in the area, it is going to be foraying deep into the boonies.
At the same time, investors from Goldman Sachs just pumped another $30 million into Arcadian Networks, a year-old startup that aims to use high-speed wireless networking to deliver IP-based, wireless broadband field automation services, including substation, distribution, and mobile workforce automation, to the private sector in rural America. The first deployment is a 700 MHz network in Minnesota with Great River Energy.
If you can find another group of urbanites more stereotypically uninterested in rural America than the guys at Goldman Sachs, I’ll eat my hat. But I digress…
And all that’s just from the last few weeks. So what’s with all the broadband activity in the hinterlands? If I hadn’t been told otherwise, I’d start thinking that there might be good money to be made out there.
Brian Santo, IP Capsule Editor & CED Magazine Senior Editor
AT&T intros U-verse in LA, tweaks cable
Given the opportunity of statewide franchising signed into law last September in California, the AT&T U-verse is expanding to encompass several circumscribed areas within and near Los Angeles.
For a couple of years now the DBS duo have been crowing about being “all digital.” Verizon and its smaller FTTH kin have successfully positioned fiber as the coolest thing in communications, even distributing nifty badges that homebuilders can affix to new houses. Seeing the value of a good marketing claim, AT&T is endeavoring to make “all-IP” hip.
AT&T’s PR includes this: “AT&T is the only national provider to offer a 100 percent Internet Protocol (IP)-based television service, making U-verse TV ‘cooler than cable’ as one of the most robust and feature-rich services available today.”
In the Los Angeles/Long Beach/Santa Ana market, AT&T is making U-verse available in parts of Altadena, Anaheim, Burbank, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Glendale, Laguna Niguel, Orange County, Santa Ana, Santa Clarita, and Tustin.
U-verse will also be hitting areas east and west of LA. AT&T will be building out in parts of the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura metropolitan statistical area (MSA), including Simi Valley, and parts of the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario MSA, including the city of Riverside, County of Riverside, Corona and Norco.
Narad Networks changes name, platform
Narad Networks, a provider of FTTx solutions for HFC cable systems, has migrated to a switched Ethernet platform and has changed its name to PhyFlex Networks. The new platform distributes switched Ethernet over fiber, Ethernet, and coaxial cable.
The company’s FTTxSwitch product is the first of the PhyFlex FTTx family of products, and the first outdoor switch to be certified by the Metro Ethernet Forum as a carrier Ethernet access network platform with both MEF 9 and MEF 14 certification via both fiber and coax. No other products in the family have been announced as of yet, but one will be unveiled at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Orlando, June 19-22, and the other at year’s end, said PhyFlex CEO Michael Collette.
Occam Networks’ 6314 10GigE Optical Packet Transport blade
Occam Networks said that the Local Internet Service Company (Lisco), a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) serving the Fairfield, Iowa area, has begun purchasing Occam’s BLC 6000 Fiber products as part of a strategy to overbuild Fairfield with fiber to the home (FTTH). Lisco has purchased Occam’s 6312 Optical Line Termination blades and 6314 10GigE Optical Packet Transport and Optical Line Termination blades. When complete, Lisco intends to offer voice, data and video to approximately 4,000 residential subscribers.
Verizon prospers; FiOS picks up steam
Paced by growth in nearly all facets of its business, including broadband data, pay TV, business services, and wireless phone, Verizon reported higher revenue in its 2007 first quarter. The improvement in income was tempered by several one-time charges that led to lower profits.
Verizon added 416,000 net new broadband connections. Of the quarterly adds, 177,000 were FiOS subscribers. Verizon how has a smidge under 7.4 million broadband subscribers total, of which 864,000 are FiOS. The total of all broadband subscribers is up 30 percent from the end of Q1 2006.
FiOS TV is growing more slowly than FiOS broadband. The company added 141,000 FiOS TV subscribers in Q1, for a total of 348,000. Nonetheless, Verizon reported the average number of daily installs is now up to 2,200 a week; the Q4 daily average was 1,450. Verizon also has a total of 618,000 customers subscribing to TV from partner DirecTV.
Brix Networks, InnoMedia offer SIP testing solution Brix Networks, a provider of converged service assurance solutions, is collaborating with InnoMedia Inc., a supplier of Internet and broadband access IP telephony solutions, to provide endpoint monitoring capabilities that will enable cable VoIP service providers to offer their subs quality of experience (QoE) while delivering service visibility to the home.
This automated Brix-InnoMedia SIP media loopback testing solution continually verifies the performance and quality of deployed InnoMedia equipment and can quickly identify issues that may be occurring between a cable operator’s infrastructure and its subs, the companies said.
Mo. gives AT&T a franchise, gets promise of 100% DSL coverage
Over the last 10 years, every time one of the Baby Bells sought permission to merge with another Baby Bell, representatives of the two would offer solemn assurances that, if they were only allowed to combine and get big enough, they’d finally be able to afford to provide 100 percent broadband coverage. A dozen mergers and two enormous telephone behemoths later, it still hasn’t happened.
Supposedly because it’s too uneconomical to do so.
And that’s why it’s bracing to see that at least one state – Missouri – is smart enough to ask for and negotiate such a pledge, and get it in writing.
AT&T still has 42 (out of 213) central offices in Missouri currently incapable of providing DSL service. In exchange for a statewide video license – allowable under a new, recently-signed state law – AT&T has agreed to upgrade those COs, which are mostly in rural areas, and start providing DSL service throughout its entire coverage area. Maybe 100 percent broadband coverage becomes economical with a statewide franchise…?
Claim to Fame: The company specializes in digital signal processing and format conversion for HDTV and IPTV. At the NAB2007 exhibition, it received the Broadcast Engineering Pick Hit Award for its iCR automated content repurposing workstation, and a Television Broadcast NAB2007 Top Innovation Award for the new Alchemist Ph.C – IP file-based standards conversion software.
Recent News of Note: NBC Universal said it will use Snell & Wilcox’s Alchemist Ph.C to deliver Olympics coverage in 2008. The BBC is also using the product.