One of the questions telco industry watchers have been asking is, how deep will the fiber run in LEC networks? As telcos build out their DSL infrastructure, companies like Alcatel are increasingly pushing deep fiber solutions —like the newer 7340 Fiber-to-the-User (FTTU) solution —to operators as way to offer a ton of bandwidth to throughput-hungry residential users, especially in newbuild or greenfield applications.
SBC Communications is one telco signed on to the Alcatel FTTU platform, the companies announced, and they’ll be adding the 7340 passive optical networking platform to SBC Pacific Bell’s Mission Bay project in San Francisco. The 7340 system includes OLT devices for the central office, ONT devices that sit at the customers’ premises, as well as an overall management system. On a broadband passive optical network (BPON) like the 7340, voice traffic is carried as VoATM packet data, and data is carried over traditional Ethernet infrastructure.
Alcatel’s 7340 platform conforms to new BPON standards called G.983, which were essentially drafted by LECs and PTTs like SBC and others. To this point, deep fiber projects have been small, or spotty, yet the new Mission Bay project is larger in scale and based on these new standards. The Alcatel platform is the first product that is standards-based and available for the residential market, according to Mark Klimek, a senior director of marketing for Alcatel’s FTTU program.
“It’s a really big deal because you have one of the premier operators in the world deploying gear from the world leader in broadband access … that’s a pretty significant statement, in a marketplace that has seen several fiber-to-the-home programs come and go over the years,” said Klimek. Many of those FTTU projects were doomed because of the extensive costs associated with running fiber so deep in the network to customers. The new Alcatel solution still carries a fairly high price tag; Klimek estimated initial deployment costs of $1,100 to $1,400 per subscriber.
Aside from the SBC announcement, Klimek also hinted at some potential deals for the FTTU solution by the overbuilder community, but details of those agreements are still being finalized.