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back to article EC researchers demo multi-gigabit fibre-to-the-home

European Commission-funded researchers have declared a high speed broadband research project a success, stating that the “Sardana” project (Scalable Advanced Ring-based Passive Dense Network Architecture) has demonstrated the feasibility and robustness of 10 Gbps fibre-to-the-home networks. The project, which was supported by €2 …

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FAIL

That's all nice and everything....

... But who is going to pay for it?

On this side of the pond, we've been promised fiber to the home for years now. I've yet to see it actually happen on a non-trial basis anywhere except certain small sections of large eastern coast cities.

Companies don't (or won't, or can't) afford the shiny new equipment that it demands, the expense of tearing up the roads to install the last mile of fiber (and city permits/public works projects are a barrel of red tape by themselves), and the added upstream and content caching farms they'll need once demands overwhelms their existing connections.

Cities don't want the roads torn up for weeks/months on end that it'll take to install said fiber, don't want more wires on poles if that's the scheme of things, and will generally take ages to rubber stamp any sort of approval on anything unless liberally greased by wads of cash.

Joe public wants it with impossible to achieve goals (no lag, 100%+ uptime, and no bandwidth caps) and cheaper then their current service.

Sure it's nice and all, but I'm not holding my breath to see fiber to the home for another couple years at least.

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Go

Re: That's all nice and everything....

I'm not holding my breath either, but because I already have FTTH. I stopped holding it 2 years ago...

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Re: That's all nice and everything....

Which is why a company I used to work for partnered with local electricity companies. Since fibre is non-conductive they could run the backhaul at the top of the poles next to the electricity cables (not the high tension stuff, regular telegraph pole voltages) and only have to come down the pole for the last few hundred feet to the customer which at the time (and this was 10 years ago) was done over coax as FTTP was not feasible at the time (we did the work and couldn't figure out how to terminate hundreds of thousands of fibres per town - the patch panel would take several floors of our termination facilities on its own)

In metro areas its a little more challenging. You'd like to use horizontal directional drilling as that stops you from digging up roads, but most cities have out of date or incorrect utility maps so tearing up the street to lay new conduit is the only way to do it. Washington DC tried to get the utility companies to agree to a construction schedule so that a street would only be dug up once but they couldn't make it work - a moratorium on digging was imposed, meetings were held, and then the moratorium was lifted and life went on as before. Parts of the San Francisco Bay area (I think San Jose particularly) did manage to do that when the fibre companies were trenching in tons of fibre and on some streets the manhole covers are in groups and always in the same order as a result.

The real problem that stops FTTP isn't that it costs a lot of money, its that the companies that have the money to do that are typically the same companies that have a ton of copper in the ground or on poles already serving your phone and/or cable TV services. Ripping that out and replacing it with fibre is not something that goes down well with shareholders as you're destroying infrastructure you paid for and is essentially free at this point. Its difficult to make money off the investment as you have to compete with other people that haven't replaced their copper infrastructure and may not have a good a service, but people frequently don't look at the quality, they look only at the bottom dollar/pound/<insert your local currency here>.

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Stop

Re: That's all nice and everything....

Complications around wayleaves and the regulatory price structure for DNOs are two BIG hurdles for running fibre along the local electricty network in the UK

In most cases, an additional wayleave will need to be negotiated with the landowner as the existing wayleaves are just for electricty. Then, the way the price caps work on the DNOs (the owners and operators of the physical local electricity network means there's little incentive to make extra money from the rental as they'll just have it taken off them elsewhere.

Finally there is the complication of who has access to install it and the various risk and insurance issues to sort - a fatal accident a few years ago as part of a trial hasn't helped either.

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No, you don't want passive networks

Even with WDM it means you will still have to run any old standard your customers still happen to have over those lines. Eventually with services being shifted in and out according to demand, you'll end up with a patchwork of used wavelengths. Should you ever have to have some WDM standard you might not have the space as some customers still require some ancient standard for business critical operation.

Laying fiber to the customer is a multi-decade operation. It's the first substantial upgrade of the phone network. We shouldn't botch this by using passive networks, just run a dedicated pair of fibers from every home at least to the curb. Unlike copper fibers are incredibly cheap. Always keep in mind that we will have to use whatever we put in the ground for the next 50-100 years.

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Re: No, you don't want passive networks

So you propose to have some active component outside every persons house? I don't think that's particularly feasible either. I think the real problem is that you're trying to merge functions. The residential fibre should stay just that. If pairs in the bundle need to be used to service commercial purposes, that's fine, but leave those pairs for business use and leave the resi pairs separate. Then as long as the phone company controls what is run over the resi pairs (just like they do with the twisted pair copper today, by dictating the equipment it plugs into on their end and what the customer can plug into the other end) then the chances for wavelength conflicts are greatly reduced. Especially if the NTU on the wall is owned by the telco and translates the fibre into ethernet or standard twisted pair so that the customers equipment has no say in the use of the fibre. If the telco wants to change the network usage they have to upgrade the NTUs, but thats under their control and not dependant on the vagaries of customer equipment.

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Go

HD Videoconferencing?

Pft, symetrical gigabit connections to the home represent the beginning of the end for company offices, with knock on effects for transport networks, real estate and IT as teleworking becomes the norm for a lot of employees, cities will empty and 'rush hour' will become just another olden days thing you will try to explain to your disinterested kids.

Roll on the future.

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Joke

Re: HD Videoconferencing?

Oh no, I'll have to stop telecommuting in my PJs.

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Boffin

Re: HD Videoconferencing?

Does any one remember 'tele cottaging' (no, you can't get done for it)

ADSL was to bring the end of big offices.

Ah, such memories.

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Facepalm

Re: HD Videoconferencing?

With new health and safety regulations being imposed whereby your home will have to be checked each year to make sure your working environment reaches EU targets.

Anyhow. Who wants to see a video (In high definition of course) of you first thing in the morning still in your jimmies?.

I can see a few more complaints of back problems, carpal tunnel, eyesight and migraine issues and other ailments. As well as having the issue with families getting in the way of your work (do you want to be around the kids and missues ALL day?). Don't answer that.

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All fine and all...

...but isn't the major problem at this time the FIRST miles, not the LAST mile? IOW, where's the backhaul needed to handle lots of Gbit/sec connections?

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Well LINX (the major hub of connectivity from the UK to everywhere else) peaks at about 1.2Tbit. So 120 homes with this tech could saturate that link. So feasible in the UK with present infrastructure, nope.

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Perspective.

And you're talking the tiny little UK. When it comes to data lines, size matters--at least in terms of cost. Here in the US, I imagine trunk lines running from New York to Los Angeles can get mighty steep in the price.

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