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One Size Doesn't Fit All

Creative fiber deployers and vendors work together to find the best tools and methods for every fiber deployment ­ making more business cases possible.

By Masha Zager Broadband Properties


hen you're a giant telephone company rolling out fiber to 18 million premises (see "FiOS at Five," below), you have an easy time commanding vendors' attention. The telco in question worked closely with many vendors to develop or fine-tune the FTTH solutions it needed ­ bend-insensitive fiber, indoor optical network terminals (ONTs), one-pass drop cable solutions and vertical distribution systems, to name just a few. If you're a rural telco or a municipality, vendors are less likely to design fiber solutions specifically for you. The good news is that off-the-shelf products are becoming more varied and more configurable. Modular fiber-management products allow deployers to tailor solutions (often with some hand-holding from vendors) to suit their geographies and markets. ONTs are designed for many applications ­ even some applications, such as mobile backhaul, that few people

thought about until recently. Fiber is as compatible now with cable back-office systems as with telco systems. New products are being developed just to make other products ­ such as IPTV middleware and billing software ­ work together. This month's roundup of deployment stories includes many examples of providers whose FTTH business cases were made possible by new products and methods. This illustrates the maturing of the industry as much as the march of technology. After designing the first generations of products for the simplest business cases (such as new single-family home developments), vendors are finding that relatively simple tweaks to their product lines will make fiber deployments feasible where they weren't before. As we look forward to a fiber-connected world, that's good news indeed. ­ MZ


Configuring Fiber Management for Rural Needs

Garden Valley Telephone Company (GVTEL), one of Minnesota's largest cooperatives, is bringing broadband services over fiber to a large, sparsely populated area covering almost 500 route miles in the northwest of Minnesota. Facilities manager Randy Versdahl says, "The vast terrain and rural locale pose a special challenge because we'll be running hundreds of miles of fiber. But it's necessary because our customers deserve access to the same kind of telecommunications services available in large urban areas, like IPTV and higher Internet speeds." GVTEL chose Clearfield's modular FieldSmart platform for fiber management because it allows the company to configure its fiber management to the

Vast, rural territories may pose special challenges for the fiber-to-the-home deployer.

unique needs of its rural environment. "One of the main concerns with any largescale project is cost. Clearfield's products are simply less expensive to deploy and operate than the competition's," says Versdahl. "Additionally, it was important to have a flexible and reliable long-term solution that would protect future FTTP deployments. Clearfield's outside plant cabinets allow us to make efficient use of our existing fiber optic cable network as well as plan for future growth. "Plus, we just liked the way Clearfield's products looked," he adds.

Even as cold temperatures settle over the North Star State, Versdahl says the installation is going well. "Our only real concern now is making sure this stage of the project gets done before the ground freezes." Clearfield fiber management products are also being used in several new FTTH deployments by Arvig Communications Systems (ACS) in Perham, Minn. ACS, which owns several small telcos and cable television systems, serves more than 40,000 access lines in northwestern Minnesota. ACS is


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currently rolling out FTTH for approximately 2,000 homes, businesses and cellular backhaul points, laying hundreds of miles of fiber through the towns of Perham, New York Mills, Osage, Osakis and White Earth. Director of network operations Andy Klinnert calls Clearfield systems "clean and simple." He says, "Because distances are always an issue in rural builds, we want to eliminate electronics and the need for power in the distribution network." Mentioning ACS' earlier successful experiences with Clearfield solutions, Klinnert adds, "We've been particularly satisfied with the Clearfield Fiber CrossConnect Cabinets. They're environmentally tight, so they're dust free and rodent proof. They're also simple enough that if someone opens the door, the product is very intuitive when it comes to how it works. ... Of course, cost is always a consideration. Clearfield products are efficient. We think we're saving money." Spring Valley Telephone (SVTEL) also selected Clearfield products and services for its new FTTH deployment, citing lower costs and greater efficiency. SVTEL, which provides telecommunications services in west central Wisconsin, launched the first phase of its project in spring 2009. SVTEL plant manager Steve Marek says, "We want to address any and all bandwidth requirements our customers currently have and will have in the future. It's important that we have a competitive advantage with our triple-play offering of Internet, video and telephone." Marek says a benefit to the company is increased landline business: "Our intention is to regain customers that have given up their landlines and opted for cell phones. The triple-play option will bring them back." Being able to custom configure Clearfield's FieldSmart Fiber Management Platform to SVTEL's specifications was critical to the company. It based its decision to use Clearfield on the ability to lower the costs of deployment ­ and of ongoing network management. "We were drawn to Clearfield's Clearview Cassette and its patch-and-splice design. Because splicing is an integrated function within the Clearview Cassette, we were able to eliminate the use of fiber entrance cabinets in the central office. This saved

us money ­ and space, which is huge," Marek says. McDonald County Telephone Company (MCTC) in Pineville, Mo., selected the Enablence MAGNM platform for its network migration. MCTC, which serves 4,000 subscribers in rural Missouri, chose the MAGNM for its allIP/Ethernet access network with FTTH

capability, its cost and its ability to meet subscriber bandwidth requirements. The company's goal is to move from its broadband copper access model to FTTH; this project should help service up to 1,000 subscribers. "McDonald County has an established relationship with Enablence as a user of its MAGNM-FX, and we found

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Enablence's new solution the best fit for our evolving needs," says Ross Babbitt, general manager of McDonald County. "The MAGNM-20's flexibility to scale offers the most efficient service to our customers and Enablence was able to provide the services within hours of the first installation, with no problems." Enablence announced two other customer wins with independent telephone companies, one in the Southeast and the other in the North. Both companies, which Enablence did not name, will use the MAGNM platform for FTTH overbuilds. One of them will use the indoor version of Enablence's E-1320 ONT. Polar Communications, an independent local exchange carrier (ILEC) serving 12,000 subscribers in North Dakota and Minnesota, is deploying FTTH using the Occam Networks platform. Polar had been pursuing a fiber-to-the-node strategy, but as service and operational requirements increased, the company realized FTTN would not keep up with future demand. The solution, which began two years ago and will continue with the current Occam deployment, was a shift to FTTP. To accommodate the expected growth in last-mile traffic, Polar is also deploying Occam's 10 Gigabit Ethernet aggregation solution. DSL continues to play an important role in Polar's broadband network. "Our long-term strategy is to continue a steady FTTH build, and when we are finished, go back and replace our original FTTN infrastructure by extending fiber to the home," says David Dunning, general manager and CEO of Polar Communications. "Furthermore, we have already purchased Occam equipment to upgrade two larger exchanges to GPON next year. We plan to offer triple-play services to our subscribers, and Occam access equipment is a critical part of that strategy." Telcos spliT BeTWeen RF Video and ipTV Cincinnati Bell, a large telco based in Cincinnati, Ohio, selected Motorola's GPON, edge modulation, encryptor and encoding solutions for deployment in its fiber network, which will deliver advanced triple-play services across southern Ohio and northern Kentucky.

A new health care network in Ohio will facilitate telemedicine, electronic medical record keeping and regional health information.

Cincinnati Bell, which already uses Motorola set-top boxes, serves subscribers in both single-family and MDU environments. "In selecting a nextgeneration video network solution, we looked for a partner with extensive fiber experience, including the proven ability to serve the MDU market," says Darrick Zucco, general manager, Fioptic Services of Cincinnati Bell. Cincinnati Bell's fiber network will run on Motorola's AXS2200 OLT and its 1 GHz-capable single-family and MDU ONTs. These solutions inherently support SCTE-55-1, or RF return path functionality, for easy integration with Motorola RF set-top boxes and headend equipment. Atlantic Telephone Membership Cooperative (ATMC) also selected Motorola's GPON solution for deployment in its fiber-to-the-home network across greater Brunswick County, a resort area of North Carolina. ATMC deployed Motorola's BPON equipment in earlier FTTH projects and will continue using that equipment; the GPON will be used in new fiber deployments. The choice of GPON allows ATMC to offer more-advanced services while continuing to use its RF video network and set-top boxes. Allen Russ, chief executive officer and general manager of ATMC, says, "We support a mix of RF video delivery over cable TV, BPON and now GPON networks. Motorola has made the deployment of residential and business services over these different networks as simple and as economical as possible ­ all while protecting existing investments in our RF video infrastructure and backoffice operations." Middleburgh Telephone Company (MIDTEL), which serves an area west of Albany, N.Y., also selected Motorola's GPON solution to deploy throughout its service area as it updates its current hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) network. "We see this as a great opportunity to deliver the highest-quality video and broadband services available today to our subscribers," says Jason Becker, Middleburgh's general manager. Middleburgh's FTTP network will run on Motorola's OLT and 1 GHz-capable single-family ONT. Internet Protocol TV, or IPTV, is gaining acceptance as an alternative to RF video, and Microsoft Mediaroom is increasingly gaining acceptance as IPTV middleware. Two FTTH providers, SureWest Communications and Reservation Telephone Cooperative (RTC), have selected the v.Allegro solution set from 180SQUARED to implement Microsoft Mediaroom middleware for IPTV. The solution set includes a variety of products and services to help integrate Mediaroom with billing and operating support systems and other third-party applications, as well as utilities such as Caller ID on TV and remote PVR scheduler. Brooks Goodall, RTC's assistant operations manager, says, "The ease of integration, advanced management capabilities and expert professional services enabled us to go from initial planning to full launch in a very short time frame." "doWnTime is noT an opTion" FoR Business CityLink Telecommunications, which provides FTTP services to residential and commercial customers throughout the western United States, announced the successful launch of its point-ofpresence site (POP) in Los Angeles. The L.A. POP site, which is located in the 1 Wilshire carrier hotel and collocation facility, enables connections to more than 180 other providers. CityLink says it is the first locally owned provider to establish a 10 Gbps Ethernet pipe between Los Angeles and its Albuquerque data center. The connection to the L.A. POP is improving the speed and quality of services for CityLink's business clients. David West, manager of the IT network for the Verge Fund's incubator building in downtown Albuquerque, says, "With the new link, I was able to immediately see a 300 percent increase in my average transfer rates."


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CityLink operates an open-access, neutral fiber optic network and establishes peering and transit connections with major networks. Over the next few months, it plans to expand its 10GigE network with connections to Phoenix, El Paso, Sunnyvale, Portland, Seattle, Boise, Salt Lake, Denver, Chicago and New York. AboveNet, a competitive business provider delivering fiber-based services in 15 top U.S. metro markets and London, recently announced that it had deployed network connectivity to enable CSS Studios to collaborate among multiple locations in Los Angeles and New York City. AboveNet's local area network (eLAN) was configured for CSS Studios, a subsidiary of Discovery Communications, to help ensure the secure sharing of high-definition audio and video production elements. The eLAN also speeds the transmission of large post-production files at high data rates between facilities and to the Internet for delivery to clients. In addition to creative production support, the connectivity supports basic office applications, e-mail and non-production Internet access. Optimum Lightpath, a competitive carrier in the New York metropolitan area, announced that it is now serving Nu-Age Managed Services. Optimum Lightpath's all-fiber Ethernet-based voice and Internet solutions help NuAge Managed Services deliver advanced IT solutions to customers' offices, maintain always-on operations across its corporate campus, and power its on-site business continuity and disaster recovery services, while saving tens of thousands of dollars per year. By deploying the Optimum Lightpath network across the 100-acre corporate campus known as the IBM Palisades Conference Center, Nu-Age Industries significantly increased its communications bandwidth, added reliability and reduced risk. It plans to add more bandwidth within the next year. Anthony Chillino, president of NuAge Industries, says, "Our customers rely on us as a one-stop shop for IT hardware, software, managed services and data center excellence. Our customers' businesses are highly dependent on constant communications, so downtime is not an option."

VeNdoR Spotlight

180SQUARED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alloptic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Calix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Clearfield . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Corning Cable Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Enablence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . KGP Logistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Microsoft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Motorola . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Occam Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . OFS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tantalus Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . U-reka Broadband Ventures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WBS Connect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Horizon Telcom, a fiber-to-thehome deployer in Ohio, is planning to connect more than 120 local health care facilities with fiber. The Southern Ohio Health Care Network (SOHCN) will use Enhanced ALTOS gel-free optical fiber cables from Corning Cable Systems, distributed by KGP Logistics. These are lightweight cables designed for duct and aerial installation, providing optical and mechanical performance over a wide temperature range. The new fiber network will allow area health care providers to participate in telemedicine initiatives, community health-record projects and the regional health information organization. Use of the network will also encourage sustainable rural medical practices, collaboration among health care providers and emergency communications. Between 60 and 75 percent of SOHCN's 34-county area has no access to broadband, making the already difficult task of rural economic development even more challenging. Small-business innovation, telemedicine, and distance learning opportunities remain out of reach for a region that includes the state's 10 poorest counties and all of Appalachia Ohio's at-risk and distressed counties. CenturyLink, now the largest of the independent telephone companies, has begun deploying fiber to wireless towers for mobile backhaul throughout its 33-state footprint, using the new Calix 766GX, 766GX-R, and 765G-R GPON ONTs. The ONTs can be installed in existing huts at the cell towers or hung directly on the tower; they can be used with the Calix C7 platforms that CenturyLink has already deployed for other applications. Mobile subscribers' demands for multimedia and data services are overloading today's 3G networks, and the imminent transition to 4G will require backhaul rates of at least 100 Mbps. GPON-based mobile backhaul solutions, which support multiple T1 and gigabit Ethernet ports and require no active equipment in the field, give mobile operators a cost-effective way to address demands for reliability and service quality, while providing a transition path for increasing bandwidth requirements. According to Calix marketing director Geoff Burke, ONTs can be dedicated to individual mobile operators or shared among carriers. IDC analyst David Emberley says, "As the future services of mobile operators expand to include rich, interactive applications like streaming video, telepresence, gaming and other videocentric applications, service providers like CenturyLink will increasingly look to GPON, with its high-bandwidth capacity, as being best aligned to meet this demand. With hundreds of thousands of cell towers spread across North America, and tens of thousands added every year, this is a significant market." A recent New Paradigm Resources Group (NPRG) report found that there were more than 250,000 cell towers in North America, less than 16 percent of them fiber-fed. Major wireless players now routinely offer exclusive long-term contracts to service providers who invest in pulling fiber to the cell tower. BBp

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medical aRTs Radiology uses FiBeR connecTion FoR TeleRadiology

Medical Arts Radiology, one of the largest medical imaging groups in Long Island, is improving its business processes, going green and saving lives ­ all due to the fiber connection from its telecom provider, Cablevision subsidiary Optimum Lightpath. Until recently, radiologists at Medical Arts had to wait for faxes or film to arrive in the mail and for data to be sent over a T1 line. Now the radiologists rarely print images and the facility saves money on personnel time, paper, printing chemicals and storage space for all the film. Less printing translates into environmental benefits, too. With a 1 Gbps fiber optic circuit and 20 Mbps Internet connection, Medical Arts Radiology specialists can view scans anytime, from any office, at home or on vacation. The doctors can also market their expertise nationally and globally by offering consultations and second opinions to other facilities and hospitals. "In our experience, you cannot perform modern radiology with a T1 line. You have to have fiber," says Dr. Pradeep Albert, chief information officer of Medical Arts Radiology. "We can view an image taken from any of our six offices and read it anywhere we can access a PC or laptop. Our doctors can even access the secure clinical records system and view patient information on their mobile devices, such as iPhones and BlackBerrys. Our business depends on Optimum Lightpath. We love the product ­ it's changed the way we do things." According to Dr. Albert, radiology has become such a specialized profession that doctors specialize in reading images of specific body parts. "We have superspecialists in every field," he says. "If a patient is imaged in the Patchogue office and the expert for his problem is in the Huntington office, we want the expert to look at the images and decide what to do with the patient. If a radiologist wants a second opinion from an office 30 miles away, he can get it immediately and they can discuss the diagnosis together. ... we can say, `Give him some IV contrast' or `Get him to the emergency room' or `Get him into surgery right away.' The patient doesn't know how far away the radiologist is ­ it's all seamless and just part of our regular work. "Patients sometimes come from far away, so the doctor who ordered the test might be in Connecticut, Florida, New York City or Long Island, but he still wants to look at the images. When the doctor picks up the phone and says, `I want to know whether to operate,' he can log on to the Web site and we'll look at the images together at the same time. The Optimum Lightpath product makes it easy for us to do this. ... To reduce radiation, we'll try to get the images faster to the referring doctor so tests won't be needlessly repeated."

Technology ThaT saVes liVes

Dr. Albert adds, "Last week someone came in for a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in the lungs that can be potentially fatal. The patient seemed fine but we were able to determine in minutes that the patient did in fact have PE. We immediately printed out the films and sent him to the hospital. Faster technology helps us make quicker decisions. In this case, it meant the difference between sending someone home to wait for a report, sending [him] to the ER to wait for hours as [his] condition worsens or diagnosing [him] immediately and getting [him] urgent care. It can mean saving lives." Dr. Albert says the practice has gone "totally paperless," changing its workflow for insurance verifications and medical record keeping, and eliminating the physical mailing of images. As a result of these efficiencies, the practice has been able to grow organically from four to six offices without increasing its administrative staff. In addition, he says, "We actually get to spend more time with patients, and they spend less time in the waiting room." Now that he can review images from anywhere, Dr. Albert doesn't have to spend so much time driving between offices. "People don't think of fiber and new technology as green, but you're really saving energy on multiple levels ­ all that driving back and forth, and less transportation of material goods," he says.


Chattanooga goes live With Ftth And gets a Smart-grid grant

The Electric Power Board (EPB) in Chattanooga, Tenn., launched its fiber optic services to an initial 17,000 homes, then quickly expanded into new areas with an additional 10,000 homes. "With the overwhelming response we've received, we know that customers are anxious for the opportunity to experience our 100 Percent Fiber Optics network," says Katie Espeseth, vice president of EPB Fiber Optics. "That excitement in our community is the reason we are working hard to make services available to as many homes as possible, as quickly as we can." The network is scheduled for completion by July 2010. EPB was also awarded $111.6 million in federal stimulus funding by the Department of Energy toward the buildout of its $226.7 million electric utility smart grid. The grant will not only speed up the smart-grid buildout but also help EPB provide smart meters throughout its service area. The smart meters will be integrated into the FTTH network. Advanced metering technology, developed


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in cooperation with Tantalus Systems Corp., will communicate as many as 80 billion customer consumption data points per year, giving consumers real-time information about their electricity use and pricing options. BVU OptiNet, the municipal fiber provider for Bristol, Va., announced that it had reached the 10,000-customer milestone. BVU has been recognized for its service with the Broadband Properties Cornerstone Award, the ICF Top Seven Most Intelligent Communities and the National Association of Telecom-

munications Officers and Advisors' Community Broadband Fiber Network of the Year award. BVU, now part of the Bristol city government, is proposing to become an independent public authority. Sunset Digital Communications, which operates the fiber optic network for the LENOWISCO Rural Area Network, says it has entered into an agreement to acquire wholesale bandwidth from WBS Connect. WBS Connect can purchase Internet service in large quantities and resell it to service pro-

deployeR Spotlight

states with deployments referenced in this article


noRTh ameRican Telcos

AboveNet Communications Arvig Communications Systems Atlantic Telephone Membership Cooperative CenturyLink Cincinnati Bell CityLink Telecommunications Garden Valley Telephone Company Horizon Telcom Margaretville Telephone Company McDonald County Telephone Company Middleburgh Telephone Company Optimum Lightpath Polar Communications Reservation Telephone Cooperative

Spring Valley Telephone SureWest Communications Verizon Communications

oTheR noRTh ameRican deployeRs

BVU OptiNet City of Staples, Minn. DubLink Electric Power Board (Chattanooga) Lac qui Parle County Economic Development Authority LENOWISCO Rural Area Network MetroCast Rutland Redevelopment Authority

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viders at lower rates than they could acquire the service, generating savings that will be passed on to Sunset's customers. Sunset's purchase of bandwidth from WBS adds a data path to Atlanta that will complement its current connection to Ashburn, Va. The redundant path also reduces the chances of service outages ­ an important consideration for large companies scouting for data center locations, as well as for local businesses that rely on the Internet. Paul Elswick, president of Sunset Digital Communications, says, "The ability to obtain this kind of high-capacity connectivity is a huge leap forward for the area. We actually had a vehicle accident the other day that took down our Ashburn connection temporarily, and none of our customers noticed. When problems are transparent to our customers and their businesses, everyone wins. That's the level of service we want to provide." (For more information about Sunset Digital Communications and LENOWISCO, see this month's Municipal FTTH Snapshot.) The city of Dublin, Ohio, entered into an agreement with DataCenter.BZ, a carrier-neutral data center, to bring dark fiber from its DubLink system to the DataCenter.BZ facility in Worthington, Ohio. DubLink, a 120-mile system of underground fiber optic conduits in the city's business district, Page 1 interconnecenables GM6037AD4C.QXD 6/10/08 4:11 PM tivity between facilities on the fiber route. The network saves

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corporations time and money by providing a telecommunications pathway on which businesses can lease space rather than construct their own lines. The Dublin City Council authorized the sublease of the city's optical fiber, which will increase the amount of available bandwidth in the region. Businesses can now connect to carriers or use other services at the DataCenter.BZ data center, including collocation, physical security for IT equipment, Tier IV power, 24/7 managed services, virtualization and cloud computing. "Not only is this an economical way for companies to privately connect to IT and telecommunication solutions; it eliminates the restriction of bandwidth that is often created by telecom carriers," says Gordon Scherer, president of DataCenter.BZ. "Utilizing dark fiber, businesses have complete control over their bandwidth and can increase or decrease their speeds based solely on the equipment they choose to operate." Connectivity at DataCenter.BZ also provides DubLink with direct fiber-ring access to competing cell phone carriers; cable TV companies; local, national and global telecommunication carriers; Internet2; and IPTV providers. In Vermont, the Rutland Redevelopment Authority ­ a branch of the Rutland city government ­ plans to launch a company to provide fiber-based telecom services to greater Rutland County. After considerable debate, the city's Board of Aldermen took a significant step toward realizing the project: approving, by an 8-to-1 margin, a motion to sign a letter of intent to participate in Rutland Telecom. Several nearby towns have already signed such letters of intent. The community of Staples, Minn., won a Minnesota Community Pride award for its fiber broadband initiative. In this community of 3,100, the educational leaders, businesses, nonprofits and city government all see broadband capacity as key to economic growth and development and a means to ensuring long-term survival of the community. The judges said, "This is truly an opportunity to reinvent a low-income, rural area by establishing the groundwork necessary to bring in new people, new ideas, and new economic opportunities." Staples' initiative involves installing fiber optic lines to bring high-speed Internet to all homes and businesses in Greater Staples. In February 2009, the first phase ­ installation of a direct wireless system for those just outside city limits ­ went live. The second phase will involve installation of the broadband backbone linking the collaborating entities. Planners believe that the community collaborative team approach in Staples is unique. The Lac qui Parle County Economic Development Authority (EDA) received a $25,000.00 grant from the Blandin Foundation to prepare a Robust Broadband Network Feasibility Study for an ultra-high-speed fiber optic network across Lac qui Parle County in partnership with Farmer's Mutual Telephone Company. Lac qui Parle County EDA has retained the services of U-reka Broadband Ventures to prepare the study. "The Lac qui Parle EDA is very excited to explore the possibility of bringing fiber-to-the-premises technology to all of Lac qui Parle County. This network will be an economic development driver and make us competitive locally, regionally and worldwide," says Pam Lehmann of the Lac qui Parle EDA. BBp


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FioS at Five

Verizon Communications is celebrating the fifth anniversary of FiOS, the largest fiber-to-the-home network in the United States. After proving the concept in a pilot project in Texas, Verizon began deploying FiOS on a large scale in fall 2004. Since that time, the economies of scale enabled by the FiOS build, together with Verizon's pursuit of technical innovation, have been instrumental in making FTTH deployment faster and more economical for all providers. Verizon estimates that its deployment costs in 2010 will be only about half of what they were in 2004. One of the technologies Verizon has pioneered during the last three years is the use of bend-insensitive fiber in MDU applications, and it continues adding new fiber products to its tool kit. Fiber cable vendor OFS recently announced that Verizon will use its EZ-Bend MDU drop cable, which promises up to a 500-fold improvement in bending loss performance over conventional single-mode fiber cables under the tight bends found in MDU installations. By the end of September 2009, Verizon served 3.3 million FiOS Internet customers and 2.7 million FiOS TV customers in 16 states (about 110,000 of these customers are in the territories that are being sold to Frontier). FiOS Internet services were available to 11.5 million premises, and TV services were available to 10.9 million premises. Over the past year, the number of customers grew by 49.2 percent for Internet and 67.7 percent for TV ­ a growth rate faster than the number of homes marketed. As a result, take rates have continued to rise; penetration is now at 28.5 percent for Internet service, compared with 24.2 percent a year earlier, and 24.9 percent for TV, compared with 19.7 percent a year earlier. Despite the rapid year-over-year growth, the third quarter was somewhat slower than the second in terms of new customers added; 198,000 FiOS Internet customers and 191,000 new FiOS TV customers were added, compared with about 300,000 each in the second quarter. However, construction continued at a rapid pace, with about 700,000 new premises passed by fiber (compared with 650,000 in the second quarter), for a total of 14.5 million. The year-end target is 15 million premises passed. FRom suBuRBs To ciTies Verizon tested FiOS in Keller, Texas, a wealthy suburb of Fort Worth, and its first commercial rollouts focused on similar communities. After improving the technology for deploying fiber in MDUs, Verizon began deploying fiber in large cities. Winning a video franchise in New York City was a major step in this transition from suburban to urban deployments; the company is now building out in several major cities. Recently, Verizon held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to launch the FiOS build in Washington, D.C.; it expects to make services available in some parts of the city by year-end. It also debuted FiOS TV in Pittsburgh with more than 600 digital channels, 122 of them in high definition. The eVoluTion oF Fios seRVices Since 2004, Verizon has transitioned FiOS from BPON to GPON technology, introduced faster tiers of Internet service, launched a video service, added new features such as wholehome DVR, started its own local television channels, and made the TV experience interactive with a variety of widgets, or utility programs accessed from the TV. This fall, the company introduced the KODAK widget, which allows users to view photos and slideshows from Kodak's online digital photo service on their TV screens. In the New York metropolitan region, subscribers have access to a webcam widget showing road conditions. Viewers can zoom in on specific roads or set favorites to display their regular commutes. Future New York widget enhancements may include cultural-event calendars, a taxicab "lost and found" listing, public transportation schedules, alternate-side parking information and school closures. In the future, Verizon plans to make FiOS a control hub for home systems controlling security, heating and air conditioning and consumer electronics. By the end of next year, Verizon should achieve its goal of passing 18 million homes; it projects that it will achieve Internet penetration of between 35 and 40 percent and TV penetration of close to 30 percent. Considering falling deployment costs, higher-than-expected take rates and rising revenues (average monthly revenue per residential user for FiOS is more than $137, about double the revenue for non-FiOS users), many observers expect the buildout to continue beyond that point. BBp



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November/December 2009 | www.broadbandproper | BROADBAND PROPERTIES |



MetroCast deploys RFog in Virginia

In its first major deployment of the Motorola RFoG solution, regional cable operator MetroCast Communications will upgrade coaxial networks to FTTH at select Virginia properties. MetroCast is aiming to increase bandwidth capacity for new digital and HDTV channels and to provide video-on-demand, voice and tiered broadband services. Motorola says its all-fiber RFoG solutions have proven cost effective and easy to deploy, helping cable operators expand their service offerings while maintaining existing back-office operations, video infrastructure and customer-premises equipment. Bill Lee, vice president of engineering at MetroCast, says, "Evolving our network simply and economically is important to us. Deploying Motorola's RFoG solution helps us meet customer demand for new and improved entertainment and broadband services while laying the groundwork for the future." BBp

mTc connecTs RuRal cusTomeRs WiTh RFog

In the fiber-to-the-home world, telephone companies have embraced telco-friendly GPON and active Ethernet technologies, while cable companies experiment with the emerging cable-friendly RFoG standard. Sometimes, though, the telephone company is the cable company ­ especially in rural areas exempted from telephone/cable cross-ownership restrictions. When telcos upgrade their cable plant to fiber, they face the same issues as traditional cable companies. margaretville Telephone company (mTc) is a case in point. As an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) in New York's Catskill Mountain region, Margaretville offers DSL service in 99 percent of its service area. In 1996, it bought a cable TV company within its telco footprint and later expanded the cable plant outside that footprint. Nearby rural residents have been eager for MTC to expand its cable plant still further. In most cases, cable is their only broadband option ­ even wireless is not a viable solution in mountainous areas where cell-phone reception is spotty. About half of the homes belong to New York City residents who spend weekends and vacations in the mountains; many of these second-homers want to be able to to work from home so they can spend more time in the country. "The real estate folks and the local community depend on broadband in particular," says Glen Faulkner, MTC's general manager.

MTC completed its first FTTH trial in Bragg Hollow Valley.

valley and you don't have to worry about the homes that are 400 or 600 feet up the road."

comBining FTTh WiTh caBle

To be practical, fiber equipment had to be compatible with existing cable systems; MTC couldn't run a second set of systems just for a few outlying customers. In 2007, fiber equipment compatible with cable back-office systems and set-top boxes became available, and MTC made its first foray into fiber, trialing Alloptic's RFoG technology in a valley with about 10 homes per mile. By avoiding the lateral cable runs needed to get within 150 feet of each house, MTC could build out fiber for about 80 percent of the cost of coax. Connecting customers was more expensive than with coax, because of the $300 micronode at each house and the longer drop cable ­ "but you're only deploying that to customers, not to homes passed," Faulkner points out. After testing different fiber-connection approaches, and based on feedback from technicians in the field, MTC decided to use connectorized drops at the poles ­ many of the poles are inaccessible via bucket truck, making fusion splicing at the pole difficult ­ and to fusion-splice fiber at the home so

FiBeR in loW-densiTy aReas

Most of MTC's cable footprint has about 22 homes per mile. But the outlying areas whose residents were clamoring for broadband service had only 10 to 15 homes per mile ­ and, due to zoning restrictions, the density was unlikely ever to increase. Faulkner says, "For a telephone company, there are mechanisms to offset the costs of operating in high-cost areas. But in cable, it's pretty much a straight business model, so you can't always provide service to every customer." For MTC to serve customers in low-density areas, a different technology was needed. Fiber seemed to offer a possible solution because it allows longer drop-cable lengths. "With coax, you have to build within 150 feet of each home because of the loss of signal," Faulkner explains. "But with fiber, you can run drops of 400 to 600 feet, or more if you want to. ... You just have to run [the fiber] up the


| BROADBAND PROPERTIES | www.broadbandproper | November/December 2009

Aerial splice case where the connectorized drop is terminated.

Enclosure and Alloptic NID at the side of the home.

there when its own cable system beas to reduce the amount of slack on the poles. came obsolete. Faulkner says, "It was Based on the trial, MTC connever financially feasible to run a ficluded that fiber was economically ber facility down there to help them, feasible in areas with fewer than 15 but a few years ago we ... facilitated homes per mile; at densities above building fiber into the community 15 hpm, coax is more cost effective. for a BOCES [educational cooperaThis finding is based on the "hometive] network. Once you have that run" fiber topology that MTC chose. down there, it becomes more finanFaulkner says dedicated fiber is more cially attractive." future proof, because it will make upMTC obtained a video franchise grading to "true fiber to the home" from Downsville this year and exeasier. Although MTC expects RFoG pects to rebuild the town's cable to provide sufficient bandwidth for facilities in the next few months, several years, dedicated fiber gives using 1 GHz HFC in the village and the company the option of eventudeploying fiber to the home in outlyally installing an OLT in the central ing areas. The entire deployment will office to upgrade specific users who be designed for eventual conversion need higher-bandwidth services to FTTH. OFS distribution cabinet where the dedicated fibers from than RFoG equipment will support. Additional RFoG projects are in each home are terminated. Feedback from the trial RFoG planning stages; MTC has applied for broadband stimulus funding customers has been positive; alto extend cable services via fiber into several areas similar to though these customers receive the same services as neighbors the trial deployment area. Now that the company has some with traditional cable systems, they are pleased to have up-tofamiliarity with deploying fiber, it is also considering upgraddate infrastructure. They also appreciate the reliability of fiber. ing its telephone network to FTTH (either RFoG or PON) so it Faulkner says, "We have not had a single failure of a fiber or of can deliver video services to the less-populated areas outside the electronics to any of the customers." the cable network. "We're different from a lot of the telcos in neW FiBeR pRojecTs the state who are trying to get into video service and have to MTC's second fiber deployment will be in a nearby community, do population centers first," Faulkner comments. "We will be Downsville, which had asked the company to extend service starting from the outside in."


New Zealand to build out 100 Mbps fiber to schools ... First open GPON network in the Netherlands ... Fiber to the resort in St. Kitts ... Green network initiative in Italy ...

Read all of these stories and more in the digital edition at

November/December 2009 | www.broadbandproper | BROADBAND PROPERTIES |



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