SBC Gives a Big 'Maybe' to Deep Fiber

SBC Communications Inc. said it will start testing an Internet-protocol based fiber delivery of digital-TV services that could presage a further rollout of the technology, pending regulatory changes.

At the SuperComm show in Chicago, SBC said it will test Microsoft TV's IPTV solution.

“Pending final clarity on applicable regulatory requirements and successful completion of neighborhood-level trials, which begin this summer, the SBC strategy could result in an incremental investment of $4 billion to $6 billion over five years to deploy the network and make advanced services available to millions of customers in the SBC service territory,” the telco said.


Verizon Communications Inc. has also said it plans to invest in fiber-to-the-home technology for next-generation services, including video.

SBC's plan is to deploy fiber deep into the network to power last-mile, high-speed Internet-protocol connections. If SBC gets what it wants from the government, it would shift new network investments towards IP-based services over fiber, over time.

SBC said it would deploy fiber to the premises for new builds, including subdivisions.

But FTTP in existing neighborhoods would be “impractical.”

Instead, SBC plans to deploy fiber to the node, which would serve 300 to 500 homes. SBC said it would use existing network connections from those nodes to homes and small businesses.

Still, SBC said it could offer data speeds of 15 Megabits per second to 25 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps to 3 Mbps upstream.

It said it could offer Microsoft's TV platform over both FTTP and FTTN technology.

SBC chairman and CEO Edward Whitacre Jr. in a statement applauded the Bush administration's decision to let wholesale-pricing rules lapse and to retain the FCC's decision against unbundling broadband-network elements.

In the past, the FCC required regional Bells to lease portions of their plant to competitors, an action the Bells bristled at.

The potential FTTH initiative comes five years after SBC announced Project Pronto, a major rebuild to drive digital subscriber line service deep into its service territory. SBC now counts 4 million DSL lines in service.


Project Pronto pushed fiber to within 12,000 feet of homes and businesses. SBC said the FTTN would entail fiber deployment from Pronto remote terminals to nodes closer to homes and businesses.

SBC said its deployed FTTH in Mission Bay, Calif.; Pabst Farms near Milwaukee, and Canton, Mich.

At SuperComm, Microsoft demonstrated TV over IP networks with Juniper Networks, Lucent Technologies Inc. and Tandberg Television.

Tandberg was supplying its EN5920 real-time hardware encoder to encode content in Windows Media 9.

Microsoft demonstrated interoperability with Juniper Networks' E-series routing platform.

Lucent supplied its Stinger IP-enabled DSL access multiplexer and CellPipe ADSL2+ modem.

SBC said the Microsoft test would cover standard and high definition programming, switched broadcast video technology, VOD, DVR and multimedia interactive program guides.