WATPA: FW: BellSouth testing fiber-optic links into homes

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From: Norman J. Jacknis (njacknis@ix.netcom.com)
Date: Mon Jun 07 1999 - 22:46:41 EDT

  ATLANTA (AP) -- BellSouth is wiring 400 homes with a direct optic link,
testing a super-fast, but costly ``fiber-to-the-home'' connection that may
one day replace copper phone wires.

     The new Internet and video service uses a new technology called
passive optical networking developed by Lucent Technologies and Oki
Electric Industry Co. of Japan.

     The trial will begin this fall in an Atlanta suburb and may be
expanded to other BellSouth markets later, the regional phone company said

     In theory, the new link can carry data at 100 megabits per second --
up to 150 times faster than the copper phone-wire technology called DSL, or
digital subscriber line, that BellSouth and other companies have been
introducing around the country.

     Atlanta-based BellSouth will price the service at $59.95 per month,
the same as it charges for DSL.

     While BellSouth and other companies have already installed
``fiber-to-the-curb'' systems shared by several homes, the new system will
run into each home individually and doesn't require a power source between
the network and the home.

     ``This is much more expensive, of course, but it enables significantly
greater capability,'' said Rex G. Mitchell, an analyst for Banc of America
Securities. ``This is good news. No one has done this yet.''

     BellSouth declined to disclose the cost of installing the fiber-optic
line, but spokesman John Goldman said the price is expected to be as cheap
as copper wire in two years as demand grows and technology improves.

     Telephone and cable companies have been scrambling to find ways to
deliver faster Internet connections that can handle video and other
data-heavy applications.

     Not everyone can get DSL, which is usually sold at speeds ranging from
0.640 to 1.5 megabits per second, because the signal can't travel very far
from a phone network switch before fading.

     Therefore, the new fiber technology might help BellSouth compete with
rivals like AT&T who are planning to use cable TV wires for Internet,
telephone and television service.

     ``We want to gain some information and some experience,'' BellSouth's
Goldman said. ``Widespread deployment in the region is probably about two
years away.''

     In addition to high-speed Internet access, BellSouth's new fiber link
will feature 120 channels of digital video entertainment, 70 channels of
analog video, and 31 channels of digital audio service.

 Posted at 7:08 a.m. PDT Friday, June 4, 1999

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