FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber



Cont ents
Reliability... Bandwidth... Affordability... Future-Proofing... Standards... Security... Economic Development... Sustainability... New Broadband Content & Services... Higher Revenue...
Why FTTH, Why Now? ..............................................................................4 Fiber and Bandwidth .................................................................................6 FTTH Users’ Stories ....................................................................................8 The Inevitability of Bandwidth Growth .......................................................10 Applications for FTTH Providers: Beyond the Triple Play ..............................12 FTTH and Sustainability: The Environmental Choice ....................................15 FTTH and the Federal Broadband Stimulus ................................................15 The Light Fantastic: Three Advantages ...................................................... 16 Builders, Real Estate Developers and FTTH .................................................18 Questions Real Estate Developers Ask About FTTH .....................................20 Focus on Municipal Priorities ....................................................................22 Understanding the Technology in Greater Detail ........................................24 Network Standards .................................................................................25 Zeros and Ones ......................................................................................26 FTTH Versus Other Types of Fiber Networks ...............................................28 FTTH and FTTB Network Architectures – A Little History ..............................30 FTTH and Economic Development .............................................................31 FTTH Council Certification Program ..........................................................32
This primer was originally written by Steven S. Ross and updated by him and by Masha Zager, both of the Broadband Properties staff. It summarizes research commissioned by the FTTH Council as well as independent reporting by the authors.


| The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil

Fiber Ultra-Broadband by State: Percent of Homes Passed

V isualizing Fiber - Borne Band wid t h
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Bandwidth Comparisons
64 Kbps: Phone Line 128 Kbps: ISDN 1.5 Mbps for a T1 Line

Today, fiber’s bandwidth is orders of magnitude bigger than other technologies. In the next two years, as 10 Gbps equipment becomes available, the fiber circle will be off the page.

5 Mbps: Wireless maximum per user with latest technology

Only the Beginning
In a few years, even 1 Gbps will look small. Soon, most content will be 3-D and ultra-highdefinition.

50 Mbps: DSL maximum per user with latest technology

160 Mbps: Cable maximum per user with latest technology

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FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber |


fewer connections inside the home. In fact. Why Now ? F iber to the home (FTTH) has become a reality. more than 17 million in Japan. Based on the immense capacity of fiber – already the foundation of the world’s telecommunications system – FTTH is now being deployed around the country and around the world. and almost 40 million worldwide. Larger telcos are deploying it in cities and suburbs. numerous cable companies have been installing future-proof fiber. Municipalities in the U. It cost $84 billion for the cable companies to pass about 100 million households with coax. FTTH is widely recognized as the optimal solution for providing broadband to new and existing communities alike. with a technology that offers far less than FTTH in every respect – lower reliability. even in a down economy. at a similar price.Why FT TH. More than 6 million consumers now use direct fiber optic connections to the home or building in the United States. 10 million in Korea. or $850 a household ($1.500 in today’s dollars). Almost all large developers are putting fiber in their new developments. and elsewhere are finding FTTH can 4 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil . now. and smaller telcos in rural areas. public utilities and. Why? FTTH offers more bandwidth and more flexibility than alternatives. thousands of FTTH communities are flourishing here.S. For less money the phone companies. lower bandwidth. The basic technological and economic challenges of FTTH have been resolved.

the nonspecialist. and sewer services. the advantages of Fiber to the Home. • • • FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 5 . In fact. The Advantages of Fiber This primer covers the key economic and technical issues surrounding fiber to the home. can understand. the Information Highway? And if you are a consumer. But optical fiber can handle any bandwidth demand with ease. will be even more challenging. we believe you will agree that: • FTTH – that is. a property’s worth was judged in part by the quality of its broadband service. why cede your competitive advantage to builders of fiber networks – networks that are cheap to run. which is why hundreds of companies using hundreds of different business cases worldwide are racing to install it in thousands of locations. why equip your new building with 120-year-old copper technology that is already obsolescent. 95 percent of all Korean households subscribe to broadband services. People talk about fiber’s potential from several points of view. When you’ve read it. which are now beginning to be commercialized. reliable. and capable of delivering premium services you can’t deliver? If you are a municipal official. FTTH is already delivering high-margin services for which consumers are willing to pay far more than for traditional cable TV services. and then not for more than a few hundred yards. fiber to the home – is the only technology that will deliver enough bandwidth. for instance. Engineers talk about the potential bandwidth of fiber. But today. Telephone companies have adapted existing voice networks to deliver Internet access. • • Public infrastructure makes private property more valuable. or that have not been invented. can you explain to voters and local businesses that your community will be bypassed by the successor to the Interstate Highway System. In Korea. and cable companies have done the same with the networks they developed to deliver television channels. homes with fiber connections sell at a 5 to 10 percent premium. and beginning to be commercialized for consumers) will be in everyday use. residents are willing to pay some of the capital costs of getting connected – a model that is beginning to be used in the U. In Sweden. Elected officials. public schools and other “utilities” than if it does not. A house. One bundle of fiber cable not much thicker than a pencil can carry ALL the world’s current communications traffic. We want to communicate .S. As a result. Even today.” in what form bandwidth should be provided and who might pay for it. For example. Copper can’t do even 1/1000th of that bandwidth. which is virtually unlimited. one bundle of fiber cable not much thicker than a pencil can carry ALL the world’s current communications traffic.be a feasible solution today that positions their communities for tomorrow’s jobs and economic growth.. is worth much more if it has access to a public street. as well. But if you are a property developer building residential or business structures. 3DTV and high-definition video communications. There are almost no low-bandwidth homes left to make a comparison! Just as people argue about “how good is good” when it comes to roads and schools. holographic high-definition TV and games (products already in use in industry. can you afford to buy a home that will have to be modified in a few years to accommodate that fancy new TV or the phone system your job demands? In this primer. • Consumers think about getting more high-definition TV channels or faster downloads of movies or games.. but because more and better premium services are available. reliably and at a low enough cost. FTTH is affordable today. economic development experts and academics think of fiber as a utility that will enable people to develop new products or start new kinds of businesses. Think 20 to 30 gigabits per second to each home in a decade. costs as much as (or more than) fiber. we explain the technology in a way you. FTTH subscribers spend 20 to 30 percent more per month than DSL subscribers – not because basic services are more expensive (they aren’t). water. when 3-D. FTTH is the only technology that will meet the needs of the foreseeable future. and will be obsolete in just a few years? If you help run a telecom or cable TV company. to meet the consumer demands of the next decade. we argue about “how much bandwidth is enough. and 55 percent of them have fiber to the home or fiber to the building. multiple simultaneous HD channels are difficult to implement well over any medium but fiber. They can’t demand services they don’t know about.

For example. it was – and still is – relied upon to carry communications traffic from city to New digital cameras can create very large images. digital cameras can create larger and larger images. But isn’t fiber too new to trust? A: Fiber optic cable has actually been used in communications networks for more than 30 years.” Q: That sounds like magic. as well as videos. That’s why fiber networks are said to be “future proof. the equipment necessary to send the light signals keeps getting better. even a compressed image can take a long time to e-mail or upload to a photo-sharing site. bandwidth (what engineers call bit rate) is the ability to carry information. the lower the bandwidth.” Q: Can’t copper carry high bandwidths. Q: How much bandwidth – or information delivered by bandwidth – do we need? A: A standard-definition television signal requires a bandwidth of about 2 Mbps – two million bits (zeros and ones) per second. it was rarely used to deliver a signal directly to a home. such as some sporting events. can vastly increase the available bandwidth without changing the fiber itself. or lasers using different wavelengths of light. Fiber uses laser light to carry signals. Equipping an existing fiber network with newer electronics and with lasers that pulse light faster. or lasers using different wavelengths of light. even with new compression technology such as MPEG-4. The longer the distance the signal travels on copper. Instead. due to the popularity of recent 3-D movies. Optical fiber is unique in that it can carry high-bandwidth signals over enormous distances. for instance. Q: What about data? A: Bandwidth requirements for many kinds of data are exploding. 6 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil . That’s why fiber networks are said to be “future proof. At the speeds generally available to people using a cable modem or DSL. a few years ahead of projections. copper can support high bandwidth. can vastly increase the available bandwidth without changing the fiber itself. What’s more. 3DTV sets are now being sold to consumers. The more bandwidth you have. too? A: Yes. requires more – as much as 8 Mbps. HDTV requires as little as 4 Mbps if the image is rather static – a person being interviewed. a signal can travel 40 miles (60 kilometers) without degrading enough to keep it from being received. But until 2002. 3-D immersive HDTV – a technology already being used in some academic and industrial settings – will require between 50 and 300 Mbps. but only for a few hundred yards. Under some circumstances. the more information can be carried in a given amount of time. But fast action. Even a compressed image can take a long time to upload at cable or DSL speeds.Fiber and Band wid t h Q: What is bandwidth? A: In a network. So equipping an existing fiber network with newer electronics and with lasers that pulse light faster.

you’re now likely to see all-fiber networks. Almost every country on earth has some fiber. But this approach requires expensive. but I haven’t seen any until recently. Faced with burgeoning demand for bandwidth. if you have a cable modem. to YouTube. have begun to outrun the ability of older technologies to handle bandwidth demands. Those technologies were “good enough” until a few years ago. in areas where several service providers compete. If you want to log on to the corporate LAN from home and work effectively. some providers tried shutting off or slowing down service. you are already using fiber. In practice. If all you want is to send e-mails. the latest version of DSL. That’s why many providers – both telephone companies and cable companies – are now moving to all-fiber networks. hard-to-maintain electronics where the fiber meets the copper. and content that was not predicted. And what about uploading a high-def video of the school play. highbandwidth services for which consumers will pay a premium. it can carry a signal of only 100 Mbps. called VDSL2. the real bandwidth is less. it can deliver only about 30 Mbps. the bandwidth provided by today’s cable modems and DSL lines may be good enough. Over a distance of a mile. In new single-family and multifamily communities. And that’s the theoretical limit. The available bandwidth is far less than an all-fiber network. Q: Isn’t that good enough? A: That depends on what you want to use your bandwidth for. but they quickly discovered that customers didn’t like these restrictions.city or country to country. At a distance of 1. or imposing prohibitive fees. or if you have DSL. In fact. in business districts. and in many other places. but until recently it was more expensive than other solutions that offer far less bandwidth. But in the past few years. download songs or share family photos. Q: I’ve been hearing about fiber to the home for a decade or more. such as cable TV’s DOCSIS and the phone companies’ DSL. In addition. content that was expected. such as HDTV. with broadband supplied by your cable operator. they found that limiting bandwidth meant limiting their potential for revenues. Source: bbP LLC FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 7 . The fiber carries the signal close enough to your home so that copper can carry it the rest of the way. for customers who exceeded monthly bandwidth caps. And these halfway approaches do not allow symmetrical bandwidth – existing cable and DSL systems can download much faster than they can upload information. delivering services reliably and inexpensively. you’ll need more. which converts your phone line into a data pipeline. For example. or sitting down to dinner with family members a thousand miles away? Q: Why does it matter how close to the home fiber comes in DSL and cable systems? A: There is a marked relationship between distance and available bandwidth when you are using copper. such as the flood of user-generated video uploaded Service providers that impose caps on “bandwidth hogs” because they can’t meet demand are forgoing revenues they could derive from new.500 feet. Is that because the technology is difficult to master? A: No. can carry a signal of more than 200 Mbps for about 750 feet.

” Morales likes the flexibility fiber-to- More than 13 percent of FTTH subscribers say they are able to work from home more often – a monthly average of 7.” says Morales. online gaming.FTTH Users’ Stories The Power Behind the Power Gamer On any other Internet service. with several computer users in the family. Sean Kim might be considered a “bandwidth hog.” This Texan has been an early adopter of every high-bandwidth application – music downloads. So when FTTH service became available in his neighborhood. Having worked previously for a small company that built fiber optic networks.” The most important advantage is that Kim’s video gaming no longer includes the dreaded “red bar” at the bottom of the screen – an indicator that his Internet connection is not keeping him up to speed with his online opponents. We don’t have that now.3 more workdays at home. “It’s as fast as being actually in the building at work. Fiber’s blazing speed assures a rapid ride to the online game site. with the help of FTTH. A survey commissioned by the Fiber-to-the-Home Council found that more than 13 percent of FTTH subscribers say they were able to work from home more often – a monthly average of 7. patch it quick and kick it off. “there would be a delay or a lag if everybody was trying to get on the Internet. Polo Morales works at a technical services company in the Virginia suburbs of Washington. service was not always reliable. he understood the benefits of running fiber to the home. He explains. Not surprisingly. Video gaming revenue rivals Hollywood’s box office revenue – and online gamers like Sean Kim are ratcheting it higher. “What’s cooler than fiber optics to your house?” he asks. and helping his wife set up teleconferencing to keep up with friends halfway around the world. I install the new game right now. Other players have to wait an hour for a download to complete. Some 59 percent of these telecommuters said their employers were more favorable about telecommuting with an FTTH connection than with other broadband solutions. Kim was the first in his neighborhood to sign up for Verizon’s FiOS fiber-to-the home service. DC.3 more workdays at home. “Whenever you install a new game. 8 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil . it makes you download all the patches that have accumulated since the CD was burned. who says that his fiber-to-the-home connection has enlarged his opportunities to work from home. many are starting their own businesses from home. Kim is thrilled that he can use Internet applications at peak performance – especially his favorite multiplayer game. Fiber helps enable it. When Morales had tried working at home via cable modem.’” And 3-D games are already here as well. His wife Diann notes that. Bringing the Virtual Office Home The luxury of working from home is no longer a pipe dream now that the “big pipe” is arriving at households across America. I can say ‘Hey. “With fiber. And if I join a game and someone lags. and that’s like 450 megabytes. World of Warcraft. he jumped at the chance. it’s not me. And in a rough economy. He says. sharing digital photos and videos. it’s always green so people want to play with me more. I’m on fiber so there’s no way I can lag.

” FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 9 . Her eBay business is entirely Web-based. we can have our office phone here. “The Internet is critical to our businesses. to do telecommuting.” Brian Metelski has become as productive from his home office in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as he would be at his employer’s premises. and an eBay store.the-home gives him in balancing his work and family responsibilities. that facilitates less traffic. We can have our office applications here. and Charity’s retail store sells some of its products through a Web site. Texas. “That’s very important. He adds. As much as he loves the new arrangement. Randell regularly downloads large RFP files that were problematic to download via DSL. People are building their lives and their livelihoods around it and they expect it to work and work easily.” Back in Northern Virginia. while Charity operates several homebased businesses. can you change the channel on the TV?’” For Americans who operate home-based businesses. take care of the kids and still actually go to work. The only times you can tell I’m at home is when you hear my daughter or my son in the background saying. it’s not a problem for me to stay home and work from home. “We’ve gotten to a point now where Internet service is like your water or your sewer service or even your electricity.” His employer provides Metelski with a virtual private network tunnel inside a VoIP telephone connection. They use it to manage reservations and process payments for the bed-andbreakfast.” says Morales. “Charity is not really interested in the details of technology. Metelski says his employer seems to love it more. A survey commissioned by the Fiber-to-the-Home Council found 10 percent of FTTH subscribers using their high-speed connections to run home-based businesses. a telecommunica- “We’ve gotten to a point now where Internet service is like your water or your sewer service or even your electricity. with 90 percent of these calling the high-bandwidth fiber optic connection either “very important” or “somewhat important” to their business activities.” he says. including a bedand-breakfast. a lawyer. Polo Morales reflects on the larger implications of telecommuting: “If you consider that the bandwidth and the connectivity provides you with the ability to work from home. which registers to a secure gateway back at the office building. With his FTTH service. ‘The Internet service went out. ‘Daddy. “I’m still able to do all the things like keep my calendar. I can set up conference calls and still have multiple folks participate in the conference calls so it’s not an issue. Fifteen-year-old Katie says. So it’s an enabler. right? And if for whatever reason you can’t go work. says his fiber-to-the-home service makes a big difference to his home-based business.” says Andrew. Metelski says: “Our FTTH service enables us to work from home virtually with our PCs and our VoIP phone and any other applications we want running along with TV and along with everything else. It’s all about the bandwidth. And there’s a family dividend. Having an Internet service that works and is reliable is important to her. less driving on the roads. [Before getting FTTH] I would get calls when I was out of town saying. Andrew.” tions engineer in Coppell. People are building their lives and their livelihoods around it and they expect it to work and work easily. speed and reliability of Internet service can be the key to business success. scene of some of worst rush-hour commutes in the country. a retail store. The Heatons’ fiber-to-the-home Internet connection gives Andrew the ability to telecommute and is the backbone of their businesses. that we have a high-quality connection for videoconferencing over the Internet. “He’s a lot happier and a lot more chipper in the morning now. Ralph Randell. “In the event that the kids get sick in the wintertime. It’s like I’m sitting in an office. works one day a week from home.” Andrew says they have not had to perform one of their “Internet fire drills” even once in the year since they switched over to fiber. That allows me to stay home. Virginia. music and games – usually at the same time.” Andrew and Charity Heaton live with their four children outside Leesburg. and that enables him to have breakfast with his kids. He now spends less time in the morning downloading files to prepare for morning meetings. He also uses videoconferencing with colleagues and potential customers. Randell’s three teenagers all like to access online video. what do I do?’ And I’d have to try to walk her through how to do the connections when I wasn’t even there. And that is a very difficult thing to do. “Because they know that when we’re working from home. you can potentially still get your work done. it no longer matters how many of his kids and their friends are using their laptops in his home – the response from the Web is instantaneous and he can continue his work undisturbed. the quality.

up online. work and play. Video on the Web and on mobile devices. It lets us do things faster. cameras. FTTH allows that speed to Facebook and online video sharing. they are better. be matched by the network. • • • The least expensive netbooks today come with 160 GB hard drives. Internet-enabled cameras that upload photos and videos to Web sites with built-in Web browsers. because everyday users need the file space. Incoming callers can find the line you are on and leave messages – text and video as well as voice – where you can easily pick them up.files of comparable size. was launched in late 2009 by a Russian teenager and within a few months had vaulted into the top 1. which enables random video chats. ute. we have seen such new products and services as: Voice over Internet Protocol telephones. And what about digital images? Users peared in February 2005 and quickly became become annoyed when network speeds lag behind local connection speeds. New Internet-connected TV sets the way we live. and to back them zled. In the past few years.The Inevitability of Bandwidth Growth A • ll too often. But the real value of bandwidth is that it lets us do entirely new things with our computers. play games and use half a million other embedded applications. moving because users want “more of the same” a 2 GB memory card’s worth of pictures (or an hour of TVbut because new and unforeseen products quality video) to your hard drive takes about half a minand services have been introduced. they also need to send New and unforeseen products have daz. and set-top boxes let viewers • 10 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil .000 Web sites in terms of U. User-created video so grandparents can see the children. and the largest single user of Internet bandwidth. we think of increased bandwidth as a matter of speed. bemused and annoyed us. Using your Demand for bandwidth is rising not computer’s USB port. View a Web site. pageviews – and even higher in terms of bandwidth. Internet-enabled picture frames that automatically display photos sent via e-mail. Send an email message. Manufacturers of consumInternet movies on TV. And if they need the file space. The social networking platform Facebook has 400 million active users who share photos and videos. telemedicine and er electronics have been thinkhome-based businesses are all changing ing along the same lines. They’re not only cheaper for the consumer. televisions – with our network. YouTube ap. Chatroulette.S. or so a budding comedian or musician can develop an audience. one of the five largest users of bandwidth on earth.

will be able to keep delivering the bandwidth we need. that “think Internet” to put Internet video bandwidth needs will keep on growing on the TV.” No one was thinking are offering add-on services or ap. ing today’s standard offering. They just check out what’s – and that only fiber to the home. electric lighting was Many vendors already have. with available. too.its superior reliability and plentiful ternet-capable TV models are becom. With home automation. We have every reason to believe watch video from the local cable or phone company.about air conditioners or cell-phone pliances to help consumers find the chargers. Entertainment isn’t the only use prising to us as cell-phone chargers for bandwidth. the new uses for bandwidth will be as surshows they want to watch.would be to Edison. And if they need the file space. New services let peo. and they the “killer app. Users don’t have to that innovation will continue.” agers of multifamily communities are even turning social watch high-definition online video on rooms into fiber-connected business the big screen just as easily as they can centers and concierge offices.upstream capacity. Owners and manDiego allows worldwide “telepresence. generating plants. they also need to send files of comparable size. Telecommuting and home-based businesses are on Wall of LCD screens at University of California at San the rise. In. using Internet-connected security cameras and remote energy monitoring devices. Source: bbP LLC The least expensive netbooks today come with 160 GB hard drives.ple access health care and take classes from their homes. A generation from now. FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 11 . because everyday users need the file space. using their TV remotes. When Thomas Edison built the Think hundreds of thousands – even millions – of fiber-enabled TV world’s first central-station electrical “channels” from all over the world. Think hundreds of thousands – even millions – of TV “channels” from all over the world. residents can take care of their homes while they’re away.

book readings and other interactive events into the community. of course. Social applications use the fiber infrastructure to build a sense of community – an important function in a new development. the fitness center or the community room. and they are less invasive of residents’ privacy. (Some of the applications can be classified in more than one group. Fiber offers other advantages in the here and now: New broadband applications are coming onto the market every day. Telehealth helps keep older adults living independently for longer. and then turn on lights and heating or air-conditioning at home. providers can offer Wi-Fi connections to residents in indoor Telehealth helps keep older adults living independently – a boon for those who care for both their children and their elders while working full time. pizza delivery or home repair. They range from social networking sites focused on the community. security and reliability as they do on fiber. These new applications fall into several categories. to Webbased or IPTV video channels broadcasting local athletic contests. calling to schedule a dry-cleaning pickup. artistic productions and political discussions. Concierge and home-automation services take advantage of the local fiber network to make residents’ lives more comfortable and convenient. security companies and sometimes police. electronic medical records systems. Community-based systems may be more effective than individual home security systems because they trigger alarms even before a home intrusion occurs. and many of them present opportunities for use or resale by fiber providers. etc. to intranet sites featuring local news and events. Today.) Differentiating Your Community Only a few years ago. Mobility is easier to accommodate with a robust fiber-to-the-home network. Arts and educational applications use high-end videoconferencing in community centers. some generate additional revenue streams for providers or help retain customers. Cameras that recognize residents’ cars entering the community can alert parking attendants and security personnel. developers are now seeking applications to leverage their fiber infrastructure. virtual museum tours. Telehealth gives residents instant access to medical specialists via videoconferencing from the home. and online appointment scheduling. Some help differentiate fiberto-the-home communities. still others can be used by providers or property developers to manage their assets more efficiently. outdoor arenas or children’s play centers to bring live performances. and it is a boon for the “sandwich generation” that is responsible for caring for both their children and their elders while holding down full-time jobs.Applications for FTTH Providers: Beyond the Triple Play Network builders are not investing in fiber to the home only to prepare for future bandwidth needs and appeal to “early adopters” who want to live the connected lifestyle. Most of these applications can operate on lower-bandwidth networks. Because they can be interactive.). according to market researcher Mike Render. respiration measurement. The videoconferencing may be integrated with Internet-enabled diagnostic devices (blood pressure cuffs. Fiber networks support the broadcast and recording of very-high-resolution photos that are more useful for deterring and apprehending intruders. In order to further differentiate their communities. Residents can experience the benefits of big-city life without its drawbacks. These systems identify and track intruders and can automatically notify owners. fiber-connected developments were so rare that fiber to the home was a unique selling point for developers. they easily trump conventional “public access” stations on cable. music lessons. Community-based security systems consist of linked IP videocameras and sensors stationed on light poles and buildings around a neighborhood. fiber has become the norm in new d e v e l o p m e nt s . but not with the same degree of performance. online prescription services. Using the backhaul afforded by FTTH. Residents can connect with a single click to community services and preferred providers. 12 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil . especially in new master-planned communities.

like many other technologies. or it may be provided as a separate service for customers who don’t want linear TV channels. Today’s consumers want to be connected all of the time and want to be able to use any device for any purpose. alwayson lifestyle. Home security. which don’t have to aim for the lowest common denominator because their systems have virtually unlimited capacity. or listen to Internet radios in the gym. Because digital security uses wiring that is already installed for broadband.or TV-based videoconferencing with more features and higher quality than free services provide. New fiber-enabled broadband applications reduce customer churn. often at lower prices than the customers could obtain by purchasing these services directly. Residents can bring their laptops to the pool. Broadband providers of all kinds now offer a variety of applications to their customers through Web portals. access them from anywhere and share them with others. as well as software for choosing and ordering the shows and. or even allow users to initiate calls via the TV remote in response to a TV ad. Generating New Revenue Streams Customers have become used to purchasing such “over-the-top” Internet services as Skype or iTunes. Fiber to the home.Camera used for community security application. Ubiquitous and reliable connectivity encourages users to rely on the Internet for their technology resources. presents opportunities for providers to make higherquality videoconferencing available. and they create new revenue streams. They can offer PC. Convergence is the next phase of the mobile. The cloud computing revolution has moved applications from the desktop to the Web. the television or the PC. agreements with content providers to make the shows available. is migrating from analog to digital form. if they have installed high-end videoconferencing equipment in public areas (see FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 13 . Digitally based home security allows residents to control settings. lower expenses by keeping more traffic in-network. Fiberto-the-home providers. it is inexpensive to install and makes economic sense for renters as well as homeowners. Providers can offer specialized videophones. Local area networks are now likely to be Internet-based. receive alerts and view their homes via the Internet or cell phone. make the triple play or quad play more compelling. check e-mail from the laundry room. Video on demand is sometimes offered as part of the same video service that providers use to deliver linear channels. of course. but often they’re happier to deal directly with network providers whom they know and trust. Convergence applications that send Caller ID or text messages to Home security devices. and users can even access Internet-based computer processing power at a moment’s notice. and outdoor public spaces throughout the community. and create new revenue streams. Digital security systems also support a wider range of sensors – not only traditional motion detectors but cameras. have a far wider choice of applications for resale. Service providers are now supplying the types of services to business customers that until recently were provided by corporate IT departments. Stand-alone VoD generally includes an Internet-connected set-top box that can download and store the movies and TV shows selected by the customer. for consumers who prefer stand-alone devices. Online storage allows them to store their data files on the Internet. Or. water detectors. with a videophone subscription service. Videoconferencing is universally available through free or low-cost Web-based services. because of its high upstream bandwidth. smoke detectors and many others. they lower expenses by keeping more traffic in-network. but it is cumbersome and the quality is often poor. These applications serve several purposes: They reduce customer churn.

Property Management Broadband enables owners to control their properties and assets more efficiently than ever before. maintenance and security. or to households (or even individual TV sets) with certain viewing patterns.c a p a c it y. Residents can request repairs at any time – not just when the office is open or they can find the super – and management personnel can deal with problems that require personal attention. Fiber-enabled. Broadband applications also help owners communicate with tenants and employees. Unlike desktop video.“Differentiating Your Community”) they can sell time – and guaranteed quality of service – on those systems to individual customers. The federal government’s stimulus programs have subsidized Smart Grid upgrades and coordinated FTTH with Smart Grid initiatives. saving on energy. Utility applications. Energy management can also be broadband-enabled. such as automated meter reading. which lets providers insert ads based on nearly any criteria. represents an important revenue stream for FTTH providers. Residents can be automatically notified when work is completed. Online work order scheduling helps property managers be more responsive to their residents. high-end videoconferencing and telepresence are becoming acceptable alternatives to business travel even for important meetings. and tags worn by employees help make sure people are where they’re authorized to be. greatly reduce the costs of operating electric utilities. Targeted advertising. high-capacity. Guarding the construction site can be managed through IP-based video surveil- Remote music lessons. variable electricity rates. One mechanism is through IPTV. applications that monitor and analyze energy usage help property managers and residents find opportunities to shift loads to nonpeak times and reduce their overall energy usage. IPTV ads can be sent to households with certain demographic criteria. Asset tagging helps prevent theft or misplacement of equipment. 14 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil . Motion sensors. Smart metering and Smart Grid applications are major reasons that electric utilities across the country are now building fiber infrastructures. according to one industry expert. While cable TV ads are usually differentiated by ZIP code. The addition of broadband – especially the h i g h . in which television viewers click the remote on an ad – or even a product placement in a television show – to either see more information about the product or actually order the product. SCADA and outage investigation. Another potential source of advertising dollars is t-commerce. Broadband-enabled applications also help reduce water usage. although it is sold to advertisers rather than subscribers. while reducing operating expenses. Internetenabled sensors and applications automate work that was once done by maintenance crews – and get it done it more quickly and accurately. lance. Videoconferencing allows construction managers to make virtual site inspections more frequently than they could make physical inspections. intelligent thermostats and automated ventilation equipment can keep public spaces and unoccupied units at appropriate temperatures. high-reliabilit y broadband that fiber enables – turns “smart” buildings into “genius” buildings. highreliability broadband turns “smart” buildings into “genius” buildings. rather than routine requests.

and into providing robust broadband connections for those institutions. Increasing the number of middle-mile connection points. but almost all studies show a positive impact.org/UserFiles/ F i l e/ P WC _ F T T H _ S u s t a i n a b i l ity%20Report%20FINAL. These programs teach more businesses and individuals about what broadband can do to expand their horizons. Revenue from new services helps make business plans for new FTTH projects possible.the fiber optic links between local networks and the rest of the world. most of the exciting news is in middle-mile builds . Even with low assumptions about take rates. The federal concentration on middle-mile projects is particularly exciting to municipalities. developers and business owners that are considering building FTTH networks may find their business cases stronger than ever. And in many cases. That. according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study commissioned by the FTTH Council and released in October 2008. The bottom line: Municipalities. or Distance learning. That’s an annual carbon-reduction dividend of close to 20 percent. This is because operators of first-mile FTTH networks have to pay to connect to the rest of the world. operators of FTTH networks are sometimes forced to offer connection speeds far slower than what their own networks can easily deliver. and their capacity. For example. allows local operators to offer faster speeds. in turn. in turn. Savings are likely to increase in the future as the uses of broadband networks expand. and the release of toxins into the environment. It also expands the number of people who have access to computers and who know how to use them. which reduces travel for educational purposes. Savings on gasoline (both for the avoided commute and for those who would enjoy less congestion on the highways) are partially offset by extra electricity use at home. the majority of the last-mile projects funded by the broadband stimulus are centered on fiber to the home. Both initiatives require more reliable. even if their projects haven’t been directly funded by broadband stimulus grants. even though the general public has no direct contact with middle-mile organizations. Earlier studies have shown smaller annual savings. allows them to offer a greater variety of services. will improve broadband “take rates” – the percentage of people with access to broadband services who actually buy them – and thus make it easier to justify the costs of construction. For example. Thus. The broadband stimulus program has helped FTTH in another way as well. telephone companies and others that wish to build FTTH first-mile networks. the federal government is supporting smart-grid projects to cut the costs of electricity transmission and smart medical records to cut health care costs. and by the power used to run the network.pdf FTTH and the Federal Broadband Stimulus In February 2009. mainly at libraries and educational institutions.ftthcouncil. as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus program. which make electricity generation and distribution far more efficient. The report examined an “average” American FTTH deployment. particularly in rural areas and smaller communities. A more complete presentation of the report’s results can be found at www. By every measure. telephone companies. PricewaterhouseCoopers found. Nearly all the approved middle-mile projects are fiber optic networks.FTTH and Sustainability: The Environmental Choice Fiber’s impact on the environment is certainly positive. PricewaterhouseCoopers also examined how FTTH deployment affected resource depletion. The program is funding dozens of new fiber-to-the-home networks . Cloud computing. Other environmental impacts are recouped in time periods ranging from one to six years. algae growth in the oceans. lack of competition drives up connection costs. PricewaterhouseCoopers did not consider other energy-saving applications such as: • • • • Telepresence. That.in fact. Verizon is aiming for a 20 percent reduction in electricity used by new equipment to run its network. FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 15 . Smart Grid applications. which is beginning to replace a significant amount of business travel. more than $7 billion was committed to building broadband networks and teaching the public how to take advantage of them. cable companies. according to the report. The impact of any actual network would be slightly different from the typical case that was studied. FTTH had a beneficial environmental impact. However. the greenhouse gases that are produced in constructing equipment and deploying the network are balanced by the savings from increased telecommuting in about five years. more ubiquitous broadband. which enables data centers to be located near sources of alternative energy. After the network is constructed. About three-quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions come from the manufacture of active network equipment. air acidification. Hundreds of millions of dollars are going into local broadband adoption initiatives. telecommuting saves more than triple the amount of greenhouse gases released by powering the network. About half of that was committed by March 2010.

The pulses of light are usually created by lasers (some short-range fiber systems use LEDs). The ability to carry information is called bandwidth. Lots of bandwidth allows lots of information to be carried. But those speeds are impossible over longer distances. It can be carried on a thin ribbon. One typical fiber cable configuration with about 200 super-thin strands is about the thickness of a standard coax cable. That fiber cable could theoretically carry 1 2 16 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil . Short lengths of coax. the faster the service that can be available to the building’s residents and businesses. The equipment to do that keeps getting faster. By contrast. be made thinner than a human hair. Service providers – both telcos and cable companies – have been bringing fiber closer and closer to end users for years. and now they are bringing it inside buildings. so the same old fiber can be used to carry ever more information. under some circumstances. very fast. Multiple streams of information can be carried on the same fiber at the same time by using multiple wavelengths – colors – of light. The closer fiber gets to a building. as it is easier to maintain and delivers far more bandwidth. or inside a “microduct” of hollow plastic only an eighth of an inch wide. The pulses are turned on and off very. Fiber cable is thin. and 200 times more than typical broadband over cable TV coax. Three of the biggest advantages are: Signals travel a long distance inside fiber cable without degradation – 40 miles or more.The Light Fantastic: Three Advantages Fiber optic cable carries information by transmitting pulses of light. New equipment is just slipped in. as the distance traveled by a signal in copper wire or coax increases. the bandwidth decreases. It can. in fact. for instance – the lengths typically found in a small building – can carry 1 Gbps if the coax network is well designed. Fiber has a lot of advantages over copper wire or coaxial cable. That’s a thousand times more bandwidth than typical broadband service using DSL over copper wire.

In the U. it may make sense under some circumstances to bring fiber only partway to the customer. Thus. In rural settings. or the destruction of the building it is in. FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 17 . In the last several years. or PONs. In fact. or where high-quality coaxial cable or copper networks exist. FTTH or fiber to the home (also called FTTP. That technology. It is also flexible and rugged. many vendors introduced fiber that is tough enough to be stapled to walls by installers. that going straight to FTTH makes more economic sense in most situations. Even in rural areas. fiber service to MDUs has been common for nearly a decade. in any circumstance. This aids reliability and contributes to sustainability as well.S. FTTH usually costs more to build. But optical networks that do require electronics in the field have some advantages as well. The fiber is amazingly reliable. 3 As we noted. In 2007. for fiber to the premises) is the “gold standard. the new bendable fibers and other innovations have made MDU fiber deployments routine. hundreds of network builders have chosen FTTH over FTTN and copper.S. are the most common type of network. the looming bandwidth needs are so large. which were the easiest to equip with FTTH. Today. Nothing hurts it except a physical cut. Once installed. Apartment buildings and other MDU structures in the U. The bottom line: Fiber can be “hidden” easily on the surfaces of walls in old construction. but the builders can expect much higher revenue from customers.enough bandwidth to handle all the information being sent on earth at any one time today. fiber is moved closer and closer to the customers. and FTTH construction prices so reasonable. Such fiber has been available for years. bandwidth providers are increasingly bringing fiber optics all the way to customer premises. Passive optical networks. most of the early fiber deployments were to single-family homes. This improves network reliability and cuts deployment costs. and not by replacing the cable itself. and flexible enough to be bent around sharp corners. They use a minimum of electronics. the amount of power needed to run a fiber network is far less than that needed to run a coax or other copper network. started to be served with FTTH in large numbers only in 2006.” Almost as good – at least for the short term – is bringing fiber to the basement of a building (FTTB) and distributing it over copper wires to the apartments or business premises within the building. there is no “technology risk” in specifying FTTH now. especially when a network is built to carry content from multiple providers on the same fiber. Where the population density is low. fiber is upgraded by changing the electronics that creates the light pulses. there are no electronics at all between the provider’s central office and users. Optical fibers made of polymers – plastics – are now starting to be deployed for indoor networks.. As time goes on. That approach is called FTTN for fiber to the “neighborhood” or “node” or (for greater bandwidth) fiber to the curb (FTTC). And in Europe and Asia. but had been difficult and expensive to manufacture. to provide more bandwidth. Either way. The fiber is then connected to the existing copper for the last jump to users’ premises.

000.625. March 2010 20.900 0 2.000 19 35 3.000 15. Winter 2010 Developer With Competitive Overbuilder Incumbent Rural Telephone Company Competitive Overbuilder (Rural or Suburban) Municipality or Public Utility District Acting as Retail Provider Competitive Overbuilder (Urban) Regional Bell Operating Company (within MSA) Municipality or Public Utility District Acting as Wholesaler 32.000 10. North America) 18.500 13.079.0% 30.000 4.643.369.003. on the basis of surveying home buyers and developers.170.000 to the price of a home (see chart). That number has continued to fall due to improvements in deployment technology.996.875. 58.000 17.Builders.900 13.000 8.1 00 11 0.0% 85.600 16. What do the major players know that not all smaller developers realize? Before the housing boom ended.000.221 Source: RVA LLC 18 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil .000.000 10. 00 0 00 .000 0 Sep-01 Mar-02 Sep-02 Mar-03 Sep-03 Mar-04 Sep-04 Mar-05 18.600 1.000. By mid-2006.100 180.089.000 16.000 2.700 72.0% 44.763.000 16.000 6.0% 25.000 Sep-01 Mar-02 Sep-02 Mar-03 Sep-03 Mar-04 Sep-04 Mar-05 Sep-05 Mar-06 Sep-06 Mar-07 Sep-07 Mar-08 Sep-08 Mar-09 Sep-09 Mar-10 Source: RVA LLC Virtually every large developer of single-family homes. Nevertheless. That’s now changing.000 14.000.000 4.000.0% 42.000 12.000. that FTTH added about $5.992.000. condominiums and rental properties has an active program to add FTTH to new properties.000.000 19.300 189. FTTH was economically viable in new developments with as few as 80 MDU living units or 100 single-family homes.000 5.5% Source: RVA LLC FTTH Homes Passed.000 3. 00 0 18 0.082.619.000 12.000. Real Estate Developers and FTTH Major Categories of Fiber-to-the-Home Deployers And Take Rates.227.999 .000.696.000 10.7 00 4.600 12.000. The size of the increase is less certain now.40035.825.000.000 14.000 8.249.000 8. fiber has achieved cost parity with copper in nearly all new construction – even without taking the added home value into account. but it is clear that FTTH homes sell faster.552.048.000.700 Sep-05 Mar-06 Sep-06 Mar-07 Sep-07 Mar-08 Sep-08 Mar-09 Sep-09 Mar-10 72 413.4 .300 11.400 6.000.000 2.000 9.000 6.099.500 970. some smaller developers remained on the sidelines until recently.300 829.000 18. Retrofit work has expanded as new-home sales have fallen. Michael Render of RVA LLC estimated.065 7. FTTH Homes Marketed. March 2010 (Cumulative. As fiber and fiber deployment costs have continued to fall and copper costs have increased.846 1.000 6.000 110. Most are working on retrofitting older properties as well. 30 18 0 9.754.

3 5 .912.275.000 1. 00 5.000 - 1.000 0 5.7 0 .000 2004-2010 18% 16% 14% 12% 10% 8% 6% 4% 2% 0% Sep-04 Jan-06 May-07 Oct-08 Feb-10 Passed Connected 78 Source: RVA LLC 21 0 Source: RVA LLC FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 19 .804.000 4.000.597 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 2.000.000 548.500. March 2010 (Cumulative.000 2.700 671.000 3. North America) 6.5 0 .000 1.500.000 5.000 3.478.500.422.000.000 4.000 500.760.800 5.0 0 6.500 2.000.000 5.000 3.000 2.000 Sep-01 Mar-02 Sep-02 Mar-03 Sep-03 Mar-04 Sep-04 Mar-05 Sep-05 Mar-06 Sep-06 Mar-07 Sep-07 Mar-08 Sep-08 Mar-09 Sep-09 Mar-10 Percent of US Households Passed and Connected to FTTH.500.0 0 .500.FTTH Homes Connected.000. 50 0 14 3.000 . 50 10 22 38 64 312.

A: The data are clear: Building homes that are wired for high bandwidth. Do I need to hire an engineering firm to design the installation? A: At first. But smaller installations. you can bet that homes with high-bandwidth amenities will sell faster. Some vendors offer fiber in thin adhesive tape that can be rolled onto walls. thin fiber can be “blown” through the microduct for hundreds of feet. But fiber vendors have developed many techniques to protect the fibers from harm. After everything else is done. and 150 the year before. More than 400 American colleges offer courses for fiber technicians. The microducts are easily repairable. If few homes are being sold. At the point in construction that the coax should be installed. the balance has tipped toward less formal design regimes. too. Of course. If you are using thin plastic microduct that fiber can later be blown through. look for LSZH cables (it stands for Low Smoke Zero Halogen). it should be labeled Halogen-Free Flame Retardant. Q: My architects. Contractors can route inexpensive microduct – hollow plastic tubes as little as threeeighths of an inch in diameter – through walls before the walls are closed in with drywall or other materials. just as copper with PVC installation would be considered a life-safety hazard because of the combustion products produced when it burns. the growth of distributor-supplied design help and an expanding corps of qualified technicians. Aside from fire issues. but it’s even more important in bad times. Indoors. contractors. with one or another offering advantages in specific situations. FTTH is new to them. A: The fiber itself is very. this may translate into a greater profit. technicians and building managers are all used to coax. because it needs no electric power. Q: What about other labor on my construction site? I hear that fiber is rather fragile and can be damaged before walls and trenches are closed. and I certainly do not want to add to the price of a home in a weak market. In good times. I call the guys up and they come and lay wiring. Q: Do any building codes pertain to fiber? The stuff seems inert. Others may not sell at all. FTTH homes sell faster than non-FTTH homes in the same market. 20 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil . Fiber does need to be “engineered” in very large apartment complexes – that’s true for coax. just as you might with electrical cables. the various FTTH technologies differ only in detail. all the regular fire and life-safety issues apply. most FTTH systems were engineer-designed. Cable can be armored to ward off cuts. you should check with your local building code inspector. codes may govern where fiber ONTs (the boxes that convert pulses of light from the fiber into electrical signals for your computer or TV) may be placed on the outside walls or in common ar- Typical fiber distribution cabinet or “hub. has allowed homes to be sold for more money. and providing access to FTTH. But in the last few years. will not need that kind of sophistication to work well. What’s more. Overall.” It can be placed anywhere outside. A: Yes. as with smaller corporate LANs. thanks to increasing standardization and clever new “inside plant” systems from equipment vendors. You use a simple junction box to change from “outside” to “inside” wiring. so would various plastics used in fiber that is meant for outside installation. New fiber can be bent almost like copper.Questions Real Estate Developers Ask About FTTH Q: Can’t this wait a few years? The real estate industry is going through tough times. up from 250 by the end of 2007. very thin – thinner than a human hair. For instance.

digital picture frames. ible fiber that can be laid anywhere. assuming there is no specific building code or “guidance” document covering that? A: You should expect users to desire broadband connections in virtually any room in the house – bedrooms. FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 21 . Q: Is lightning a problem with fiber? A: No. the phone usually keeps working. and connect them to the network with tough. flex- You should expect users to desire broadband connections in virtually any room in the house – bedrooms. A few municipalities specify where in the home the network connections should be placed. set-top boxes. typically 4 or 8. and of course the computer itself. In fact. This may change as cellular phones replace landlines – a change that has already taken place in most of Europe. between-stud boxes that hold the battery. electronic picture frames connected to your home computer. the kitchen. after all. televisions. Is that the only way? A: No. Q: I’m building new single-family and residential MDU structures. And. monitors for fire. A: Optical fiber cannot conduct electricity. more like cable or DSL modems. In North America. office-dens. This flexibility come from new. what about that telemedicine connection to your refrigerator or the alarm in your bathroom? Q: In a single-family home. ONT and fiber connections. and of course computers. smoke.Importance of Development Amenities if Shopping for New Home Source: RVALLC Spring 2009 Internet from a direct fiber optic line Green space / walking. where most customers still have landlines. Q: Does every dwelling unit or office need its own ONT located at the unit? A: Not any more. often in a basement or an equipment cabinet that’s centrally located. ONTs placed inside dwelling units can be designed to be user-installed. There are also ONTs designed to serve multiple units. In harsh climates. you need a battery at the user premises. lightning strikes do not affect fiber at all. This one is next to a kitchen counter in Loma Linda. Where should we put the users’ network connections. eas. down the road. office-dens. to keep the network connection running when the electricity has been cut off. and we’ve made the decision to add FTTH. And some ONTs can deliver 1 gigabit per second or more – enough bandwidth to share among several customers. jogging 24 hour neighborhood patrol Community pool / park Fitness center / Club house 0% 10% 20% 30% 36% 39% 35% 36% 40% 50% 60% 69% 65% 62% 56% 59% 82% Current FTTH Users: Non FTTH Users: 70% 80% 90% Network connections built into the wall. Separate ONTs for each unit can be located centrally now. televisions. Thus. That’s because Internet connections these days accommodate telephones. Q: I hear that ONTs require a backup battery. many standard designs are available for in-wall. I often see the ONT box hung onto the outside wall. for instance – where heat or heavy snow could affect the outside installation – you will probably want to put the ONT indoors. because fiber does not conduct electricity. the kitchen. You should also think about home security. That’s because Internet connections these days accommodate telephones. and your other household utilities. You can now buy ONTs that are small. smaller circuitry that also uses less power than before. portable units. Why is that? When the power goes out. California.

Why don’t the phone and cable companies consider them attractive customers for FTTH? A: Many cable companies. but not all the way to the home. plain copper wire for VDSL. RFoG networks can eventually be converted to conventional FTTH at low cost. but it sounds as though it will be installed just as broadband needs will increase beyond what DOCSIS and FTTN can deliver. and local real estate agents say that property values in my town suffer because homes and businesses do not have access to FTTH. or settle for something less? And what about wireless? Key Questions Municipal Officials Ask Q: Nearby towns and new housing developments are beginning to install FTTH.000 feet from the fiber’s endpoint to the home is copper – coaxial cable in the case of DOCSIS.0. many cable companies are now using a new FTTH transitional technology called RFoG (for Radio Frequency. telephone companies and independent broadband providers are now installing FTTH. or RF. However. or invite corporate providers in? Should they go for FTTH.Focus on Municipal Priorities Municipal officials face many issues with FTTH. Isn’t that good enough? A: It may be good enough for the next few years.000 to 5. Why not here? A: It is usually easier to install fiber in new developments than in existing ones. Is that true? A: They use fiber. and maybe have even slightly higher incomes. Q: My town’s residents are just like others in the region. over Glass). But the companies operating in your town may be following an overall policy they think will work for them. reliability and versatility. And the local phone company says it will be bringing in FTTN with VDSL. Should they build their own networks. too. Q: But they tell me both use fiber. Q: The telephone company that operates here is installing FTTH in the new development just 10 miles up the road. The fiber goes into the same trenches that have 22 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil . But the franchise cable operator offers 8 Mbps and says 50 Mbps or more is becoming available in some locations using DOCSIS 3. RFoG is more compatible with existing cable networks than is “conventional” FTTH. That limits bandwidth. The last 1.

And many multifamily community owners find that community wireless. But they have worked here as well. A: There are several conferences and academic organizations you could try. Q: Are we giving something up by allowing one utility to run a network and provide content at the same time? What about open-access networks? A: There is no clear answer. work in targeted areas such as commercial shopping streets. It may. But they are not substitutes for FTTH. water pipes. when there is no good alternative to trenching. without building my own network? We might qualify for federal stimulus funds. Furthermore. Distribution box for fiber lashed to existing aerial cable. too. When the same organization provides content and maintains the network – as is more typical in the United States – the network tends to be more reliable and the interfaces for choosing programs more consistent and easier to follow. unless I have examples. Many states already subsidize broadband to libraries. Also. fiber that is not being used to its limit. or an accelerated permitting process. But there may be less variety in content and services. has an annual meeting and monthly webinars. large housing developments are being equipped with fiber. Where trenching is impractical. but they are not substitutes for FTTH. Q: What might I do to get fiber to my residents. A: You might try lobbying the incumbents – the cable and telephone companies serving your town now. new micro-trenching techniques may allow it to be done with less disruption to traffic. You could offer such incentives as a reduced franchise fee. No new businesses or other economic activities are generated by wireless. installed on poles along with existing telephone. org. The business model simply did not work for entire cities and towns. 23 FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | . and wireless networks covering wide areas are not reliable enough to deliver video and other emerging broadband services with high quality of service. virtually all the companies that promised to build “free” municipalitywide Wi-Fi networks have reneged. and cable wiring. www. electricity and sewer service. however. They complement and extend a fixed fiber network. schools and colleges. In fact. is a valuable amenity. except to support higher property values. Why not here? to be dug anyway for water. Q: What about Wi-Fi or WiMAX? Some companies will even come in and provide basic wireless service free to residents. these existing broadband networks can be starting points for adding fiber to the home. The FTTH Council. That’s why most new. and we have no experience operating a municipal utility. and are the norm for the biggest projects such as those bringing fiber to all homes in Amsterdam and Vienna. the municipality and private enterprises own the new fiber network together. where the network builder (either a municipal or a private entity) “rents” bandwidth to a potentially unlimited number of content providers. In Europe. Openaccess networks. In addition. copper wiring usually can’t be run that way.ftthcouncil. but it rarely is. Q: Where could I go to find out more? I can’t tell my voters the advantages of fiber. At present.The telephone company that operates here is installing FTTH in the new development just 10 miles up the road. In such partnerships. Isn’t that a good substitute for fiber? A: Wi-Fi and WiMAX are important public amenities. so whoever installs a FTTH network in a new community has an easier road to signing up customers. open access networks in the United States tend to be either municipal networks or networks built by companies that specialize in bringing fiber to new buildings and subdivisions. The FCC’s National Broadband Plan calls for wireless in remote areas. so fiber is usually cheaper. public-private partnerships are common. contractors can often use horizontal drilling or pull fiber through existing ducts. Finally. Many network builders in North America use “aerial” fiber. There’s no reason it can’t be done in North America. many cities already have usable fiber under their streets. Q: Would installing fiber require that my streets be dug up? A: It depends. are more common in Europe and Asia than in the United States. this method is quick and inexpensive. They can’t replace it. as an adjunct to wireline broadband. but they can’t replace it. You might also invite outside companies to consider bringing FTTH to your residents. access to public property. the new residents are not already tied to a cable or phone provider. sewers and gas lines rather than digging up streets and sidewalks. however. But my town has too much debt now to borrow more. electric. Wi-Fi and WiMAX are important public amenities. They complement and extend a fixed fiber network.

that expect an Ethernet connection. or attached to buildings. customers will own devices. for optical network units. is the cable company’s coaxial cable. or HFC. Let’s start at the beginning of a fiber network. Connections and splits can also be made in boxes hung under roof eaves. distributes the signal to individual households over coax. In networks just beginning to be built by cable companies they are called micronodes. 24 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil . the signal fairly close to the building. Ethernet connectors are built into virtually all computers that have been sold in this decade. You’ll also hear about the point of presence. The fiber leading from the hub or pedestal to the user premises is called the drop cable. They are the devices at the consumer end that turn the light pulses back into electrical signals. with fiber bringing They can hold the beam splitters that take the signal from one fiber that extends back to the central office. A DOCSIS node. ONTs are typically placed in cigar-box sized enclosures on the outside walls of houses or apartments. or on what look like power lines or phone lines. and usually your home wireless system. and back again. They are also sometimes called ONUs. Pedestals and larger fiber distribution hubs are enclosures close to the user premises. In the United States. For best reliability. in attics or basements. Hybrid fiber-coax. or POP. and can be used inside customer premises as well.” residents and property owners rarely see them. many contractors bring two fibers into each dwelling unit from the pedestal. Here’s what you might want to know so you can understand the technical jargon. This is a standard way of networking that’s used around the world. fed by fiber. on telephone poles. much of the alphabet soup of acronyms has to do with devices for converting electrical signals that travel along wires to pulses of light that travel on fiber. Your computers. Usually. One node typically feeds 100 to 500 homes. Pedestals and hubs can be below ground. So a typical ONT turns the light pulses into Ethernet signals. OLTs put the pulses on the fiber in the first place. above ground (they often look like short posts or squat air-conditioner-size boxes). and divide it (typically 8:1 up to 32:1 but as much as 64:1) among fibers that go to individual dwelling units. Because they are located in telephone exchanges and other network “central offices. But an RFoG micronode may serve only one home. But they can be made smaller than a deck of cards. OLT stands for optical line terminal. such as computers. use Ethernet. ONTs are optical network terminals. That’s the point at which the signals from multiple customers join the rest of the extended network.Understanding the Technology in Greater Detail In FTTH. or even into the basement or a central area on your property.

Such setups may require that the same company’s equipment be used at both ends of the wire – that is. one box turns the signal into “Ethernet” over coax and the other turns the signal back to something customers’ TV sets understand. and generically BPL (for Broadband over Power Line). international in reach but based in the United States. reducing risk. managed. Many companies make equipment that converts the cable company’s coax. But there are often some advantages in terms of project management. That’s a necessary evil. So are most of the standards for Ethernet. HomePNA. They have names like G. they guarantee that everything will work together. and HomePlug AV. and so forth. is concerned with how signals are sent. too. The key point to keep in mind is that the technology risk is low. Many independent groups. You will see them show up as references in contracts. so vendors often have to add their own “extensions” to make everything work smoothly. Physical standards – the ones that ensure that plugs will mate properly – are mainly the realm of the TIA. Get acquainted with them on their Web sites. for example) are issued by IEEE. Some fiber optic network vendors offer “end-to-end” technology. or your building’s electrical wiring. Microducts into which fiber can be blown. Aerial distrbution housing. But what about durability. Property is subject to standards from the National Electrical Code. The standards do not cover everything. which stands for the Telecommunications Industry Association.org). The common Wi-Fi standards (802. so that it can carry an Ethernet signal. At the user premises. Recently. and to consumers’ equipment. Delivering Services to End Users All pulses of light look the same to fiber. or ability to withstand high temperatures or moisture? The technology has been moving so fast that standards-setting bodies can’t entirely keep up. But the organizations that are responsible for fiber may be strange to you. FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 25 .mocalliance.hn. These devices tend to offer interim solutions. see www. but some companies’ technology is so robust that it can be depended upon for many years. But avoid vendors who ignore standards entirely and use their own proprietary methods and software in place of IEEE standards. the pulses are converted to Ethernet signals that move over copper Ethernet cable (typically Category 5 or Category 6 wiring. Foremost among them is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. This group. Underwriters Laboratories. There’s nothing entirely unusual about any of this. new standards have emerged for home networking.11g. That is. such as Telcordia (a private company) have developed their own testing standards to assure reliability.Network Standards Many standards-setting bodies serve the networking industry.11b or 802. Cat 5 or Cat 6 for short). The standard for using electrical wiring is called HomePlug. The standard for carrying Ethernet over coax is called MoCA (for Multimedia over Coax Alliance. or IEEE. This is a trade association. More important is the business sense and commitment to service of the people with whom you will be dealing. interpreted and kept secure. The need for “end-to-end” technology has diminished in recent years due to standardization of the components. building and fire codes.

tablet PCs and other devices. each containing many thousands of zeros 70% 70% 64% 67% 64% 65% 63% 58% 55% 52% and ones. To deliver this service. most video signals arrive as RF (radio frequency. In IPTV. and soon some niche channels. Modern HDTV is so crystal-clear that users are annoyed by things that would be missed on old-style sets. Video also requires good QoS. This is changing. 100 Kbps per second will carry a high-quality phone conversation over Ethernet. they have to send extra signals down the line. The new technology is IPTV. and 4 to 8 Mbps (and as much as 20 Mbps) for highdefinition TV. smart phones. But the voice signal must be very clean. and data? Theoretically. Data is requiring more and more bandwidth to meet consumer needs. to consumers. and reassembles 47% 47% them when they arrive at their destination. But video requires a lot of bandwidth – 2 Mbps for standard-definition TV. Today. The video service for Verizon’s FiOS is mainly RF (for the time being). who now count almost a fourth of American households as subscribers. FTTH Satisfaction vs Other Broadband % Very Satisfied QoS needs for data are Source RVALLC Spring 2009 not as great as for voice or video. Even when the signals move over fiber. fiber or coax or both. although 1 to 5 Mbps is typical. because the Internet Protocol automatically splits up data streams into FTTH Other broadband packets. cannot directly compete with VoD. with IPTV for program guides. using the same Internet Protocol (hence IP) as any other data. Voice. or VoD. as well as on TV sets. But each requires special skills on the part of providers. Satellite TV vendors. Telephone service over digital data networks is called VoIP. but not always as good as voice. But some are supplementing the satellite feed with VoD through terrestrial networks. IPTV can send thousands. but sometimes much more. the worse a small glitch in the transmission will seem. Cable companies have been offering both VoIP and switched telephone services (similar technically to regular telephone company services). of channels. The higher the bandwidth requirements. with no noticeable delay and no static. does not require much bandwidth. voice. Technical people thus describe voice as requiring a high QoS (quality of service) and low bandwidth. For most of today’s applications. which is used for many purposes at the same time. VoD. A regular “analog” phone line uses as little as 8 Kbps. Some other telco TV providers are using IPTV for all video. for Voice over Internet Protocol. They can also package personal video recorders (think TiVo) with their services. what’s the difference between video. That’s difficult to do on a network such as the Internet. who can view the video on computers. This increases the need for high-quality service. there is no difference. for instance. the video moves as data. because they can only send signals one way – from satellite down to subscribers. Small delays and a bit of static will often go unnoticed by viewers. 26 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil . But they are now transitioning quickly to VoIP. as long as they Consistency Broadband Provider's Internet Reliability Installation arrive within a short period of speed speed customer overall service process – typically a few fractions service uptime of seconds. If all pulses look the same.Zeros and Ones But the video world is changing. Part of that change is already obvious: Cable and telephone companies are offering video on demand. even hundreds of thousands. to individual customers. they are often treated as if they are RF. or HDTV. They do not have to arrive at the same time. which can be analog or digital) signals.

for instance. optical fiber is the best choice for meeting our needs for upstream and downstream bandwidth and for QoS in the plan period and the years ahead. But providers need special skills for each.Bandwidth Needed to Receive One TV Channel Over the Next 25 Years 3D Ultra 3D Super 3D HDTV 2D Ultra (ITU J. the bandwidth has to be higher in one direction (the inbound direction to consumers) than in the other. civic engagement and participation in the 21st-century economy. most users download more data than they upload. The more videoconferencing looks and sounds like “being there. QoS is important for some newer types of data transmission. But those patterns have been changing. For example. In much of Europe. including higher upstream and downstream bandwidth than is available in most of the United States today as well as enhanced QoS. The plan’s authors cite the importance of broadband in promoting such critical social goals as health. Likewise. for medical appointments. as its quality improves. The National Broadband Plan released by the Federal Communications Commission in March 2010 calls for enormous improvements in broadband over the next decade. requires very high upstream band- width. which has been a runaway success in the business market for several years and was introduced to the consumer market in 2010. advanced sensors can measure voltage. That is. education. and travel over a single glass fiber. where providers have offered symmetrical bandwidth.601) 2D HDTV 2D Standard-definition TV 2.” the more consumers will want to use it – not just for visiting with friends and family. energy conservation. Mbps 1. New applications will increase the demand for symmetrical bandwidth. FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 27 . They recognize that a nextgeneration broadband network is needed to support these goals.000 10. or data – look alike. All light pulses – whether voice. but for telecommuting. users have tended to upload more data. so will the bandwidth required to transmit the video stream. but almost all download it. Providers of all these services have been used to thinking about consumers’ bandwidth needs as asymmetrical. High-definition videoconferencing. and even to create their own video. video.000 Entry-level 3DTV is appearing on the market in 2010.571 796 280 200 126 50 10 2 1 10 100 Bandwidth.601) 3D Standard-definition TV 2D Super (ITU J. Some utility companies are now building fiber networks to support these new sensors. Control systems based on these sensors can help avoid massive blackouts caused by cascading failures. for education and for many other purposes that require travel today. Few consumers create video now. current and frequency 30 times or more per second on the electrical grid. Because of its carrying capacity and reliability. However. public safety.

the FTTH Councils for Europe. RFOG 28 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil .FTTH Versus Other Types of Fiber Networks In September 2006. Asia and North America standardized the definitions for fiber to the home and fiber to the building (also called fiber to the basement). RFOG . The definition excludes those architectures where the optical fiber terminates before reaching either the home living space or business office space and where the access path continues over a physical medium other than optical fiber. They are: Fiber to the Home (FTTH) A fiber optic communications path that extends from the operator’s switching equipment to at least the boundary of the home living space or business office space. (RFOG node can be located at premises) .

except that the fiber is brought much closer to user premises – typically closer than 1. But in general. FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 29 . an FTTH technology that uses the signal protocols developed for DOCSIS. it refers to a system where fiber is extended to a point – typically a street-side or onpole cabinet – to within 1. each user gets its own DOCSIS micronode. With RFoG. Fiber to the Node or Fiber to the Neighborhood (FTTN) FTTN is not defined by the FTTH Councils.000 feet of the average user. GPON OLT. passes 100 to 500 homes.000 feet and often closer than 300 feet. the service is through a vari- Simple cassette holds fiber. Typically. with coax extending to users. In this architecture.000 to 5. copper or wireless serves the user. From there. the optical fiber will terminate before reaching the home living space or business office space.Fiber to the Building (FTTB) A fiber-optic communications path that extends from the operator’s switching equipment to at least the boundary of the private property enclosing the home(s) or business(es). FTTC installations may use either DSL or Ethernet (over copper cable or wireless) to bring the signal from the fiber termination point to the user. Pointto-point wirelesss is sometimes used in rural areas simply to bring a signal from the roadway to a home that could be a mile or more away. Nor should it be confused with RFoG. typically served by fiber. used mainly by cable companies to implement DOCSIS. FTTN should not be confused with hybrid fiber-coax (HFC). Fiber to the Curb (FTTC) Similar to FTTN. the standard that allows data to be transmitted over cable TV systems. There are also other definitions commonly used by people in the industry: ant of DSL (Digital Subscriber Line). The access path will then continue over another access medium – such as copper or wireless – to the subscriber. Each DOCSIS node.

P2P networks require more power and space within the central office. but it was not until early 2006 that inexpensive electronic chips to implement it became widely available in volume.3av SCTE IPS910 Year Finalized 2001 2004 Evolves constantly 2004 2005 2009 2009 BPON has been largely replaced by GPON.” The GPON standard was finalized early in 2004. New Types of FTTH Networks The ITU Family BPON (for “Broadband PON”) was the first PON standard widely used in North America. 2. Networks using that speed are sometimes called EPON and sometimes called GEPON (for Gigabit Ethernet PON). The difference is that in a P2P network. GPON supports ATM.3 IEEE 802. WDM-PON can provide the kinds of speeds seen in intercity networks (currently up to 100 Gbps) and will probably be used first for businesses and MDUs.984 Evolution of PON Standards Within the general category of passive optical networks. Ethernet is also used for “active” networks. WDM-PON adapts wavelength-division-multiplexing electronic equipment developed for the transport portion of the network for use in the access network. But because they do not require fiber distribution hubs (containing optical splitters) in the field. each customer is served by at least one dedicated fiber.FTTH and FTTB Network Architectures – A Little History The “family” of optical networks has two major branches – PON and AON – and many technical variants within those branches. which stands for “GPON Encapsulated Mode. there are two branches. The Ethernet branch has been standardized by IEEE – the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. 30 | The Advantages of Fiber | FTTH CounCil . they tend to be simpler to operate. and TDM (the protocol phone companies use for ordinary telephone service) by “wrapping” or “encapsulating” the data packets with some extra bits.983 ITU G.” The second branch of the family tree is the Ethernet branch. and has a top speed to users of 622 Mbps and upstream speed of 155 Mbps.3 IEEE 802. The other is based on carrier standards.” the typical Ethernet P2P has no active electronics between the end user and the central office. New fiber optic technologies are being developed to meet new needs. 10GPON. In a “passive” optical network.” It refers to the fact that there are no active electrical devices between the central office and the end user.25 Gbps. But it allows the use of a separate wavelength of light to support video services. As the name implies. downstream bandwidth is about 10 Gbps – four times the current standard. almost always using the Ethernet standard. Upstream bandwidth has also been increased fourfold. It is based on the ATM protocol. A new upgrade. The first Ethernet PON (EPON) standard was released by the IEEE a few months after the GPON standard in 2004.” As the name implies. there are electrical devices between the user and the central office. Standard BPON GPON EPON GePON 10G-EPON RFOG Name ITU G. The standard was quickly upgraded to 1. For example.24 Gbps upstream. Ethernet. These devices are routers and switches.” They are often in the central office itself.48 Gbps downstream to the user and 1.5 GigE equipment started to be deployed in 2009 and equipment using 10 GigE is just entering the field now. the industry has begun to call active networks “point-to-point” or P2P networks. as new electronic parts became available. The Ethernet Family 10GPON/NG-PON ITU G. the same standard that is used in home and corporate local-area networks. Thus.984 IEEE 802. the “active electronics” are not in a remote cabinet or local “point of presence. This refers to the fact that each end user gets a dedicated fiber (or several dedicated fibers) extending from the central office to the user premises. This is called GEM. which allows 2. All the handling of the light beams that carry the signal is done with mirrors. the emerging RFoG (Radio Frequency over Glass) standard allows cable providers to use their existing DOCSIS protocols and electronics with allfiber networks. twice the original bandwidth. There are no electrical devices needed. A point of confusion: Although P2P networks are called “active. Each fiber (and thus each customer) has its own laser to generate the pulses of light. from the ITU – International Telecommunication Union – and are more “telephone-like. one central-office laser might serve up to 64 customers. prisms and fiber. But these days. just as in PON. Because each fiber requires its own laser. One is based on Ethernet. PON stands for “passive optical network. is already being tested. AON stands for “active optical network.

education. For example. what programs and movies they’ll get to watch.3 million in our local economy. from downtown shops to the growing numbers and sizes of the local festivals. architecture and music – is drawing people from all over the United States to the Hill Country as a destination of choice. what specific broadband capabilities their businesses. Every one of them said FTTH had positively affected economic development. town councils. I guess it’s kind of ironic. The region’s growth has outpaced the rest of Texas by four percentage points. Suddenly. Most of them said their fiber networks were attracting new businesses to their towns. beer.” Many service providers offering FTTH also report benefits in their service areas. Central Texas telecommuters can connect. Retention of businesses. Here are some of their comments: • Business owners report greater productivity and boosted sales due to the access our infrastructure provides. letting small-town residents have more say over what services they want. Quality of life provided by online entertainment. has built out fiber to homes and businesses in Texas’s Hill Country for several years. but they mentioned other factors as well. power. Residents with FTTH were far more likely to start their own businesses than residents with DSL or cable broadband. palities about their experiences. which constitute a small but tenacious local industry dating back to early German settlers. climate and transportation have defined them for millennia. Professionals and others who work at home. Even Hill Country wineries. manufacturing growth. This growth isn’t surprising.FTTH and Economic Development Communities that have access to plentiful. But what about existing communities? Virtually all the real-world economic studies have borne out these predictions. We currently save the average customer approximately $25/ month. power. That’s obviously true for greenfield developments – which is why fiber-equipped homes and offices sell faster and command a price premium. The growth can be seen everywhere. Special services for the elderly and for shut-ins. Burgeoning awareness of the area as a forge of American culture and ideas – particularly its influences in food. reliable bandwidth do better than those without. even videoconference. FTTH-powered bandwidth is essential for: • • • • Hometown businesses competing in a global economy. In the coming years. work-fromhome employees. are now putting towns like Fredericksburg and Boerne on vintners’ maps. On an annual basis. business FTTH CounCil | The Advantages of Fiber | 31 . a cooperative telephone company. climate and transportation have defined them for millennia. and tourism are expected to keep growing for years. none has suggested otherwise. high school football fans and orchid clubs want. but in this way fiber to the home is actually doing a lot to keep Hill Country life what it’s always been about. this keeps approximately $1. GVTC. For example. • FTTH helps define successful communities just as good water. researcher Michael Render of RVA LLC found that the formation of home-based businesses was highly correlated to available broadband speeds. GVTC vice president Jeff Mnick says of FTTH. The Fiber-to-the-Home Council recently surveyed 28 FTTH munici- • • FTTH helps define successful communities just as good water. “It’s what’s going to keep the big sharks at bay. tens of thousands of homes are expected to be built in the 11 counties where GVTC operates and public services. Texans no longer have to choose between the scenic beauty of the Hill Country and the bandwidth of the big cities. culture and e-commerce. More second-home owners are staying throughout the week in our predominantly vacation area. between their homes and their distant offices – sometimes at speeds that beat their office connections.

Certification is important because companies like to claim they have fiber networks. and their network. The service provider must also confirm that commercial services are currently being delivered to revenue-paying subscribers. served by service provider’s entire wireline network (total residential communication subscribers). Communities will understand the benefits that broadband brings in terms of jobs. Consumers sometimes think they are getting the full benefit of 100 percent fiber broadband.The FTTH Council will certify any home installation that meets its standard – fiber optic cable that extends all the way to the boundary of the home premises. wages. This communications path is provided for the purpose of carrying telecommunications traffic to one or more subscribers and for delivering one or more services (for example Internet access. This ratio must be 10 percent or higher.org 1-866-320-6444 info@ftthcouncil. return on invested capital. To learn more about fiber to the home: FTTH Council www. telephony and/or video-television). size.org. For the FTTH Council to certify any service provider’s network as operating over fiber-to-the-home access. and will embrace the superior experience of FTTH. even when the fiber does not go all the way to the home. • • Total number of residential households in service provider’s serving areas to which services can be marketed over an FTTH access network (homes passed). Details and an application form can be found on the web at www. that service provider[. divided by total residential households subscribed to voice. data or video services. and equipment being used in sufficient detail for the Council to effectively certify those deployments. when in fact they are not. 1. 3.org . and direct benefits such as medical and education services – especially when delivered in the best possible form – FTTH. competitive advantage. and to grant that service provider use of the Fiber-Connected Home badge.FTTHCouncil.] must identify the location. Once constituents understand the benefits of fiber. they will embrace it: • Consumers will understand the difference between FTTH and other “fiber networks” that aren’t as good. FTTH or fiber-to-the-home identifies a telecommunications architecture in which a communications path is provided over optical fiber cables extending from the telecommunications operator’s switching equipment to (at least) the boundary of the home living space or business office space (the side of the building or unit). and revenue.FTTHCouncil. Certified projects may display the program’s badge in its advertising. Investors will understand the benefits to companies that make the effort to build fiber to the home networks – in terms of increased customer loyalty. “Strategic Commitment” is defined as the ratio of: 2. The service provider must exhibit a high level of commitment to network-wide FTTH deployment as indicated by its “Strategic Commitment” to FTTH in its network. This can lead to consumer confusion.