Unite Private Networks plans fiber-optic network throughout Caroline County, VA

by Lightwave Staff

September 28, 2011

Communication networks and service provider Unite Private Networks, LLC (UPN) says it plans to build a fiber-optic network throughout Caroline County, VA. The network deployment will provide UPN infrastructure along the I-95 corridor between Richmond, VA, and Washington, DC. UPN recently signed a long-term contract to provide fiber-optic wide area network (WAN) services to the Caroline County School District.

UPN provides high-bandwidth, fiber-based communications networks to schools, government, carriers, data centers, hospitals, and enterprise business customers. UPN currently has customers located in 19 states throughout the US.

“UPN was very thorough and understood our bandwidth needs from the beginning,” said Wade Murray, IT Director for Caroline County Schools. “We were very surprised to find a vendor out there who was willing to build us a network capable of growing with us for decades to come. We put them through the ringer with calls to current customers and asking very pointed questions throughout the evaluation period. They were a hands-down clear choice when the long-term economics were realized.”

“Bandwidth is now the third utility behind power and water,” said Rob Oyler, UPN’s chief marketing officer and executive vice president of sales. “With a UPN provided WAN, schools can lock-in a long term fixed price for virtually unlimited bandwidth. When districts understand the power of this model they quickly wonder why they didn’t sign up with us years ago. No incumbent provider will offer them the flexibility and growth potential of a UPN provided WAN, period.”

UK advertising regulator introduces rules to keep broadband providers honest about speeds

UK broadband providers may claim to offer high broadband speeds, but the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) wants to ensure that the country's service providers are actually practicing what they preach.
To ensure consumers are getting what they pay for from their respective service provider, the UK advertising watchdog will publish new ISP advertising rules that are set on how broadband providers promote "unlimited" broadband service.
In January, the ASA/CAP's Code Policy Team began developing "options" that would ban ISPs from claiming "unlimited" usage and allowing them to promote the peak "up to" speeds that only 50 percent of their customer base that are eligible to get at their home or business.
According to a report in The Independent, it appears that the authority has decided to use what is called "Option B" for the first element of its proposed broadband speed guidelines.
Under Option B, a service provider's "advertised speeds must be available to at least 10% of users." Up until now, ISPs would only promote the fastest theoretical speed depending on what flavor of DSL the service is being delivered over.
And while it would be ideal to have these controls apply to emerging Fiber to the Premises (FTTP)-based services being delivered by BT (NYSE: BT) and others, the new price regulations will initially only apply to legacy copper ADSL and ADSL2+ based services.

UK providers not delivering on what they promise has been a major issue in the country's broadband market and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) aren't the only ones calling for UK providers to be honest about their speeds.
In July, research conducted by UK telecom regulator Ofcom revealed that about 97 percent of the nation's broadband users are actually getting speeds much lower than advertised.

Fibre to the TV – taking broadcasting to the next level

By Hartwig Tauber, Director General of the FTTH Council Europ

Our television viewing habits are changing. The days when the family gathered in one room around a tiny TV set with a very limited choice of broadcast channels are over. Now there is a huge amount of content to choose from, and each family member wants to choose exactly how and when to watch it. As consumers, we want to watch our favourite shows at any time, in different places, and on different devices. No wonder that on-demand and catch-up services such as Apple TV, BBC iPlayer and Netflix are becoming ever more popular.

Video is already the dominant form of traffic on the internet, according to one study. As high-definition (HD) becomes the prevailing video format, and more devices are manufactured with an Internet connection, the capacity required for entertainment services will continue to grow. On top of this, many next-generation services will depend on video communication, for example, between doctors and patients in rural areas, or students taking university study courses at a distance. Clearly, video has a big future, and looks set to be vitally important to our future wellbeing.

Unfortunately, the networks capable of supporting our new viewing habits are not in place. A cost-effective, future proof solution is required, and that means fibre-to-the-home (FTTH). Only FTTH offers the capacity, flexibility and reliability needed to support exciting, new content-based business models and services.

Read the opinion article: Fibre to the TV>

FTTH Council Europe "Creating a brighter future" clip

The FTTH Council Europe has created some videos to explain the importance of FTTH in our lifes.

Their  "Creating a brighter future" clip focuses on the purpose and the impact of Fibre to the Home in everyday life. The FTTH Conference clips will give you a good idea of what the largest FTTH event in the world is all about.

The video is available in French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish and Spanish, as well as English.

View or download the video clip>

FTTH in China: Juggling 100 million users

China International Optoelectronic Expo (CIOE) held its 13th annual conference in Shenzhen, China; the FTTH/ODN/OTN China Conference (FOOCC) ran concurrently. Previously called the China Lightwave Conference, the FOOCC has broadened it focus beyond FTTH to include optical distribution networks and optical transport networks.

China's service providers will have substantial fiber networks under management with millions of fibers and many millions of ONU/ONT devices sitting at customer premises. China Telecom is building an FTTH network that will reach 100 million homes by 2014. Within Shanghai, a city of 23 million people, Shanghai Telecom will pass 50% of the city's 9 million households by year-end 2011 and 100% by year-end 2012.

The focus of service providers and equipment vendors is shifting from debates around PON technologies to lowering the costs of fiber deployment and long-term fiber network management. China's service providers are developing internal standards for ODN but open, shared standards are unlikely to emerge.

The EPON-versus-GPON debate misses the point; China is deploying both.

In earlier conferences, communications chip companies presented respective views on GPON versus EPON. The panel discussions at this year’s conference were intense and the audience hung on every word in a presentation from Wang Bo, Business Manager of the Technology Department of China Telecom, in which he discussed PON specifications, testing of EPON and GPON, and the subsequent results. While his presentation was central to the conference, his topics included not just EPON, GPON, and 10G PON but also installation and remote management of CPE (customer premise equipment).

Both EPON and GPON are being deployed in China. EPON OLT port shipments for China represented more than 60% of all PON OLT ports for China's consumption in the first and second quarters of this year. Initial China Telecom provincial FTTx network rollouts began with EPON and are continuing with EPON, while newer FTTx networks are beginning with GPON.

10G EPON deployments have begun in several provinces in China. According to Wang Bo, XG-PON (10G GPON) is behind 10G EPON in maturity and interoperability; however, we expect to see XG-PON deployments in the future. Bottom line, China will deploy both flavors of 10G PON over time.

FTTx networks need optical layer management solutions.

Service providers want to avoid traffic disruptions on their FTTx networks and they also need to lower network deployment and maintenance expenses. To facilitate this, PON equipment vendors and service providers are working on solutions that embed OTDR (optical time-domain reflectometer) diagnostics and reporting data into both central office and CPE, thereby improving the quality of network installations and ongoing network management.

Broadcom's FOOCC presentation included a discussion of the shared wavelength OTDR for PON and the need for the PON component ecosystem to embed optical layer management features. Ideally, the embedded OTDR management and diagnostic functions would be standardized across the PON MAC SoC vendors and equipment vendors. With standardization, consistent optical layer monitoring and management would be possible even when an FTTx network has equipment from multiple vendors.

China Telecom presented general requirements for embedded OTDRs in PON equipment. The embedded OTDR should be applicable to all types of PON technologies and across all speeds, without impacting normal service.

The costs of PON equipment continue to decline rapidly. China Unicom stated that the costs for PON equipment, OLT ports and ONUs/ONTs, account for less than 10% of the total FTTx network build. Consequently, service providers are seeking ways to lower installation costs, such as the cost of bringing up the ONT at the subscriber's home. China Telecom is exploring user card identification based on an integrated terminal management system (ITMS). China Telecom’s ITMS enables “zero-touch” whereby the ONT is brought online without the need for an on-site technician.

China Telecom developed 14 internal standards for ODN in 2010, covering zero-touch installation, intelligent ODN, and centralized installation procedures. When Ovum asked the panel of service providers and vendors if industry standards for ODN will emerge, the overall response was "unlikely." Every service provider has its own understanding of ODN and related innovations. Sometimes the innovation is at the provincial/city level based on localized network history and habits.

The bottom line is that ODN planning and standards are proprietary. We will see best practices but the emergence of worldwide standards is unlikely.

Swiss network combines FTTH, environmental control

Draka, part of the Prysmian Group, says that its Swiss partner Drahtext AG has completed the first phase of a rural community fiber-optic network that combines fiber to the home (FTTH) with environmental control for the village of Huenenberg in Zug, Switzerland.

Part of a showcase renewable energy project, the network provides both broadband services to community residents a supports the supply and control of a substantial part of the energy demands of Hünenberg, Draka says. The village biogas plant, one of the biggest plants in Europe, provides 15% of the community’s energy requirements. Its gas turbine, powered by biogas, will provide the community with nearly 600 kW of energy (300 kW of electrical and 300 kW of thermal energy).

Draka JetNetXS blowing technology helped deploy the underground fiber infrastructure running alongside the biogas distribution network over a total network length of 4.5 km. Despite the challenge of jetting fiber through microducts over distances up to 5 km, the fiber-optic network has been installed rapidly and successfully, Draka asserts. The network also can be easily expanded to meet future community energy management requirements, the company adds.

“This is an entirely self-financed renewable energy project in which fiber interconnectivity plays a key role,” explains Roland Kurmann, chairman of Drahtex. “It’s a cooperative venture which brings community stakeholders together to invest in a future-oriented energy approach for the citizens of Huenenberg.”

At the plant, the fiber connections enable every component in the biogen heating plant to be fully automated, with remote control availability from various sites. All processes within the plant can be monitored and controlled at any time.

Dell’Oro: Record GPON sales continue in second quarter

Sales of GPON equipment, including both optical line terminals (OLTs) and optical networking terminals (ONTs), grew 10% sequentially and 34% year over year, according to a new report from the Dell’Oro Group. The market research firm this represents the tenth consecutive quarter in which GPON equipment revenue set a new record.

While the Chinese market once again represented the strongest growth engine, sales in other parts of the world picked up as well.

“Although more than half of PON revenue was driven by deployments in China, aggregate GPON revenue derived from projects outside of China increased sequentially for the first time since the second quarter of 2010, driving sequential growth in the quarter,” said Tam Dell’Oro, president of Dell’Oro.

“Russia was a large contributor to growth in EMEA, although an increasing number of smaller deployments in other countries in the region also contributed. Also driving growth in the second quarter were higher GPON shipments to the United States and Latin America,” Dell’Oro added.

The report shows that Huawei used its leadership position in China to top the GPON supplier roster. Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and ZTE, followed, thanks in large part to their shipments into the Chinese market.

Infonetics: GPON sales forecast up in Europe, down in India and Middle East

Market research firm Infonetics Research predicts that while GPON deployments should ramp nicely over the next several years in Europe, roll outs in India and the Middle East are already approaching maturity. Infonetics’ conclusions appear in its annual GPON Equipment in Key Markets vendor market share and forecast report, which focuses on India, the Middle East, Western Europe, and Eastern and Central Europe.

“Sales of 2.5 GPON equipment will pick up in Western Europe, where major incumbents, led by France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, are pursuing targeted GPON FTTH rollouts, as well as in Central and Eastern Europe, where major operators in Russia (Beeline, Northwest Telecom, Sibirtelecom, Comstar, and NGTS), are beginning the transition from FTTB to GPON-based FTTH technologies this year,” notes Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband access at Infonetics Research.

For these reasons, Heynen expects revenue from 2.5G GPON equipment to grow at a 16% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2010 to 2015 in Western Europe, and at a 13% CAGR in Central and Eastern Europe.

Heynen is less bullish on GPON in India and the Middle East, however. "In India and the Middle East, GPON sales are actually expected to decline by 2015 because major operators there (namely BSNL in India and Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates) already took huge OLT and ONT shipments in 2009 and 2010 for large-scale GPON FTTH rollouts,” he explains. “Both operators expect to achieve their “homes passed” goals this year. Future rollouts will be far more limited in these regions as the focus shifts to subscriber acquisition.”

While carriers are only beginning to connect customers to their GPON networks, Infonetics forecasts subscribers to premium broadband services via 2.5G GPON technology will rise rapidly, totaling 8.5 million by 2015 in India, the Middle East, and Europe.

The report tracks 2.5 GPON and 10G GPON optical line terminals (OLTs) and optical network terminals (ONTs) used in fiber-to-the-business (FTTB)/multi-dwelling units (MxU) and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) applications, including ONT gateways. While each of the key regions tracked in the report has its own 2.5 GPON revenue market share leader, only Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent have a strong showing across multiple regions, Infonetics reports.

As far as next-generation GPON technology is concerned, 10G GPON and asymmetrical 10G GPON (XG-PON1) will see only minimal trial deployment in late 2011 and early 2012 in Western Europe, and even later in the other regions, Infonetics predicts. This forecasts mirrors a separate report the market research firm issued this week which indicated that next-gen PON prices must drop before carriers will launch significant deployments (see “Infonetics: Next-gen FTTH costs must drop before carriers will deploy”).

Infonetics: FTTH CPE market continues growth in first quarter

Continuing strength in the demand for fiber to the home customer premises equipment (FTTH CPE) drove a trend-busting increase in the overall broadband CPE market during the first quarter of 2011. Market research firm Infonetics Research released the numbers earlier this week within its first quarter 2011 Broadband CPE and Subscribers: PON, FTTH, Cable, and DSL market forecast and vendor market share report.

The report tracks DSL, cable broadband, FTTH, and voice CPE, residential gateways, and broadband subscribers.

"Worldwide CPE unit shipments were up 3% in the first quarter, which is normally down after a strong fourth quarter when consumers upgrade CPE during the holidays. There was growth in DOCSIS 3.0 cable CPE, indicating cable companies are finally seeing growth in higher-end DOCSIS 3.0 subscriptions. FTTH CPE continues to grow, particularly in Asia Pacific and EMEA, driven by growth in Japan, China, and the Middle East," notes Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband access at Infonetics Research.

Highlights of 1Q11 Infonetics reported include:

  • Pace ranked first in overall broadband CPE revenue in 1Q11, beating out Huawei by just over 1 percentage point. Huawei remained the leader in total unit shipments, however.
  • Year-on-year worldwide revenue grew for all categories, with DSL CPE up 12%, broadband cable CPE up 25%, and FTTH CPE up 46%.
  • Quarter-over-quarter (1Q11 vs. 4Q10), worldwide revenue was up 26% for cable wideband gateways (following a 53% jump in 4Q10), up 57% for 1.25-Gbps and 2.5-Gbps FTTH EPON ONTs, and up 12% for VDSL IADs.

Despite broadband subscriber saturation in some markets in North America and Western Europe, the overall broadband CPE market is relatively strong due to healthy broadband subscriber growth in other regions and several transitions now occurring in each segment of the market. For example, Infonetics cited the transition away from bridged ONTs to integrated ONT residential gateways, designed typically for in-home FTTH deployments, as a growth driver within the FTTH CPE space.

For more on FTTH equipment and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyers Guide.

FTTH Council lauds optical access network performance in FCC consumer broadband speeds survey

The FTTH Council asserts the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) study of residential broadband service performance underscores the superiority of fiber to the home (FTTH) networks to cable-based and DSL networks.

The FCC’s study, reported in the recently released Measuring Broadband America, found that, on average, FTTH services delivered 114 percent of advertised speeds, compared to 93 percent for cable and 82 percent for DSL, when comparing advertised download connection speeds of the various services, the FTTH Council points out. FTTH services also delivered 112 percent of advertised upload speeds, again outpacing cable and DSL services.

The FTTH Council asserts the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) study of residential broadband service performance underscores the superiority of fiber to the home (FTTH) networks to cable-based and DSL networks.

The study also states that when looking at peak period download speeds as compared to a 24-hour average, FTTH services delivered peak speeds around the clock. Conversely, DSL performance dropped off 5.5 percent during peak usage periods and cable-based services declined 7.3 percent.

The FTTH Council asserts the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) study of residential broadband service performance underscores the superiority of fiber to the home (FTTH) networks to cable-based and DSL networks.

Latency in FTTH networks proved lowest across all speed tiers as well.

The FTTH Council asserts the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) study of residential broadband service performance underscores the superiority of fiber to the home (FTTH) networks to cable-based and DSL networks.

The FCC study examined offerings from 13 broadband providers during March 2011. Thousands of broadband subscribers volunteered to participate in the study, during which the FCC measured their service offerings using automated, direct measurements of broadband performance.

“This FCC report, which is firmly grounded in the experience of broadband consumers across the country, provides further evidence of what we have been saying for some time — that FTTH networks are superior to other access technologies with regard to delivering fast broadband consistently and reliably,” said Dan O’Connell, president of the FTTH Council. “In the years ahead, only fiber to the home will be able to deliver the level of performance that will be needed for consumers to keep pace with emerging applications and services and the bandwidth they will require.”