Study Predicts Internet Users Face Bandwidth Drought - Page 2

By Paula Musich  |  Posted 2008-01-11 Print this article Print

Verizon is probably the best example of a large service provider working to get ahead of the demand curve at the network's edge. In its FIOS (Fiber Optic Service) project, the carrier is spending billions of dollars to upgrade its network to provide fiber to the home that is capable of supporting at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) data rates.

"We believe pushing fiber to the home is the right approach. We did see the writing on the wall as this report suggests," said Stuart Elby, vice president of network architecture for Verizon in Basking Ridge, N.J.

Elby believes the Nemertes study is a "vindication" of Verizon's multibillion FiOS project. "We caught quite a bit of heat for that from Wall Street. Now we think other large carriers will have to follow. But it will be much harder to make this investment four or five years from now," he said.

Verizon's approach in building a passive optical network all the way to the home is different than competitors such as AT&T, which in its U-verse project is employing either fiber to the premises or fiber to the nearest network node and then using existing twisted copper wire to the home.

Dave Passmore, research director at the Burton Group, believes that "most of the fiber networks going in now for local access are based on passive optical networking," and that approach will make it easier to insure that capacity can meet demand.

"The biggest cost of access is the actual wire in the ground - the cable plant. Once you put fiber in place, speed is essentially unlimited," said Passmore in Sterling, Va. "You can upgrade the endpoint electronics without having to swap out switches and routers in the middle, so you can continue to create more bandwidth out of fiber almost indefinitely.  All that suggests providers will ultimately keep up with demand," he said.

Verizon, in fact, on Jan. 8 announced that it has upgraded its Passive Optical Network to Gbps speeds in locations in California, Massachusetts, Maryland, Texas, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

But that approach assumes that service providers will continue to use the same all-you-can-eat pricing model that they've employed to date. And while Cisco competitor Juniper Networks agrees that service providers will keep up with increasing bandwidth demands at the Internet's edge, they will accomplish that by adding more intelligence into the network, according to Ravi Medikonda, director of wireline service provider marketing with Juniper in Sunnyvale, Calif.


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