U-verse and FiOS: Not the Only Games in Town

Carl Weinschenk

Fierce Telecom this week posted a story on an interesting report that highlights something that people who follow fiber networks have known for a long time: Some of the most exciting news in the sector is happening at smaller telcos.

Added to that is the ongoing Google Project in Kansas City. Now, some exciting work is not even being done by the traditional telecom industry at all.

The big players — AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS — of course get the headlines. A great report from RVA LLC and done at the behest of the FTTH Council says that about 9 million homes have been connected to fiber run by telcos that are not tier 1s. The press release from RVA can be found at the FTTH Council’s site.

Examples of the drive to fiber by non-tier-1 providers pop up all the time. (It’s hard to get to 9 million connections without this being so.) This week, for instance, DASAN and New Knoxville Telephone (which serves the area in and around the city of the same name in central Ohio) provided an example of sophisticated fiber infrastructure from a small carrier. The telco has selected DASAN to provide Gigabit passive optical network fiber to the home (GPON FTTH) access equipment.

Another means by which fiber is reaching people without the help of the tier-1 telcos is Google Fiber, which is the talk of Kansas City. Lots has been written about the project, which is predicated on enough people expressing interest in a particular neighborhood to determine if it gets service. What’s compelling, of course, is this it is a free market alternative that avoids the extra layers of bureaucracy and outright prohibitions on certain things under which more tightly regulated organizations labor.

Here is an update on prospects for the Google Fiber in Kansas City — and how what it does there has implications beyond, both for Google’s project and others that may be in the pipeline. It’s interesting to note that the Google project bears at least superficial similarities to the private space exploration projects that have taken some of the focus off NASA in recent years.

It is widely understood that there is a tremendous amount of activity in the fiber realm outside of Verizon and AT&T. It is important to revisit the progress that is being made on a regular basis. The Google project is perhaps the most exciting, simply because if it succeeds on both the business and technical realms, totally new vistas will open on how to finance and execute large fiber infrastructure builds. The possibility of that happening in an era in which bandwidth needs are exploding is exciting.

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