Thursday, February 23, 2006

FTTX Explained for You

Since I'm spending all of my time updating the Enloe post, I haven't had time to write anything else. So, here's an old creation from over a year ago that was written for another, now defunct site.


Recommending a High Fiber Diet

Fiber to the Everywhere

The latest craze in the telecomm world is fiber to the [geographical noun], or FTTX, a nifty brand new technology invented only a few decades ago that promises to make it possible for most human beings to never leave their homes again by deploying fiber optic cable directly to the couch. And, as most anyone not on the Atkins starve-until-your-body-starts-to-eat-itself diet is well aware, adding more fiber to your diet is recommended by most medical doctors whose degrees were not obtained via an email soliciation.

Fiber ubiquity is a lofty goal, especially in America where we're mostly still using copper lines that were actually installed by Alexander Graham Bell himself (he was a very busy man who lived to be nearly 175 years old). In countries like Japan, nearly everyone has or can get fiber all the way to their home. But to be fair Japan had the unfair advantage of having their infrastructure bombed into atoms merely 50-odd years ago. It's hard to compete against that kind of prescient urban planning.

What's in it for Me?

Unlike most of the recent fads in telecom that were pants-wetting exciting to the bearded few and of less interest than a C-SPAN marathon to the average human being, ubiquitous fiber actually impacts normal people in a tangible and marvelous way. Not only will most of us get to experience underground boring machines tearing through our sewer lines on Friday afternoon ("Someone will be out to look at that on Monday between 6am and 7pm, m'am"), but we're also promised nifty new ways to experience the most important and cental feature of American life - television. And we'll get some fast internet stuff, too.

It is no secret to anyone (except those still paying for AT&T long distance and AOL users) that telecomm companies are losing customers. How many people do you know who order a second line for their home anymore? I'll tell you how many you know - you don't know any. They get cell phones or the put in the fancy-schmancy VoIP boxes that they can't stop bragging about despite the fact that every time the kids plug in their X-Box the phone line goes dead. And some people even have the audacity to get rid of their regular phone line altogether! The nerve! Choosing a less expensive and more convenient option over the embedded monopoly! That's ... why that's ... capitalistic!

So, what is a lonely telecomm company to do when its friends (who pay it money on a regular basis) start leaving it for a more attractive communications company with better hair? Well, the less attractive, "big-boned" companies have looked deep into their customers' souls and discovered that while most people can live without a phone, they will give up food for the children to avoid missing the latest Oprah episode (the one with the girl who has the thing and Oprah makes the audience cry then gives them all gift certificates). Enter fiber ubiquity, which will allow fabulous video services to be provided to every customer in America who lives within a very specific trial area and has purchased a house within the last 2-3 weeks and does not currently have a phone installed. And you'll get some fast internet stuff, too.

The actual way that the television signal will get into your home depends on who brings it to you. There are several options, none of which really matter to you right now. The important thing is that you'll get over 100 channels of high-quality video including pay-per-view, which you will be pressured to purchase in quantity to help defray the cost of repairing the sewer in your front yard.

And Some Fast Internet Stuff, Too

Here in the US, cable companies and telcos nearly pull their arms out of the sockets patting themselves on the back for providing their customers with up to 3million bits per second of internet download speed. Really, they claim, why would you want any more? In Asia, customers are getting speeds up to 30 times faster for about the same price per month. And they are using all of the bandwidth that their providers can give them. Which begs the question, what are they doing with all of that bandwidth?

Quite simply, the main applications are the same as in the US. Namely, downloading porn. Sure, there's some other stuff, too - like streaming video, file transfers, photograph sharing, and strictly legal music downloads. But, as with everything internet related, it eventually comes down to high-quality, full-length videos where the primary color on-screen is flesh and the dialog uses significantly more vowel sounds than consonants. With fiber ubiquity, couch potatos will be able to simultaneously download a movie while watching it on high definition pay-per-view television (except in most of Utah and parts of Washington, DC). And that, loyal readers, is a lofty goal for the USA.

Some Acronyms with your Fiber, Sir?

The advent and popularity of ubiquitous fiber has led to a bumper crop of confusing and contradictory acronyms. To impress your less regular friends with your healthy fiber knowledge, merely memorize and occasionally excrete the following set compiled for your benefit.

  • FTTP: Fiber to the Premise. This is an all-encompasing acronym covering just about anything. Due to the newfound popularity of ubiquitous fiber, nearly every company will find a way to squeeze this one into their press releases. See, for example, the newest "FTTP Burger" from McDonald's.

  • FTTH: Fiber to the Home. What the industry is convinced that you, the homeowner, cannot live without. This marvelous technology would deliver television, telephone, and internet directly to your home! OK, so maybe you think that you already have that. Trust us, this is better. It's fiber!

  • FTTC: Fiber to the Curb: A weasely cop-out by companies that want to run fiber right up near yout home, but not actually into it. Sort of like selling you a house right on the water, but requiring you to walk through a glass-filled abandoned lot to actually get there. It's nice, and you're not going to turn it down, but really - why not go ahead and put in the boardwalk?

  • FTTN: Fiber to the Node. SBC made this one up as a part of their public announcements. After hours of analysis by the best brains in the business, most people have concluded that FTTN is the same thing as FTTC, but with the added benefit of creating a new acronym that only applies to the West Coast and parts of Texas.

  • FTTB: Fiber to the Business. Providing your employees with sufficient fiber to surf the web up to 25% more often, ensuring America's further dominance of the technology fields.

  • FTTX: Fiber to the [geographical location]. A cheap cop-out meaning "all of the above", this one is only used by vendors who are afraid to offend SBC ("FTTN is different, dammit!") and by hack writers with little-seen blogs.

No More Regularity Comments

Yes, gentle readers (note: gentle readers is a copyright of Miss Manners, who will bust a cap in you if you don't mention her when you use it), ubiquitous fiber offers the promise of a beautiful future for telecomm equipment vendors and discredited telecomm executives all over the US and parts of Canada. Unlike the telecom frenzies of the past, calm and rational minds are fully in control of this latest frenzy, ensuring succesful deployment and bounteous riches for everyone involved.

And in the spirit of completely rational exhuberence, you may now refer to me as as the FTTFTTXB (Fiber to the Fiber to the [geographical location] blogger.

Thank you for your valuable and unrecoverable time.

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