[SATLUG] Re: Where else is FiOS?

benjaminez at gmail.com benjaminez at gmail.com
Sun Jan 18 11:31:34 CST 2009

On Sat, Jan 17, 2009 at 10:20:04PM -0600, Aaron Hackney writ thus:
> Charles Hogan wrote:
> > Grande has their own cable plant.
> Interesting. So, what then would stop AT&T from pulling fiber? I
> assume they already have telephone pole "rights" throughout the city
> with their telco services. I am sure there are tariff issues to be
> worked out, but still, I don't see how TW would have it so sown
> up. Just curious....

AT&T is pulling fiber, just not exactly in the same fashion that TW or
Grande is.

Here's my understanding of the situation: Originally, AT&T had a
government contract.  The US government gave AT&T a mandate to
construct a telephone and data network that would maintain 99.999%
uptime, and AT&T delivered.  In return, AT&T became a regulated

Recently, though, AT&T's contract terminated, and its regulated
monopoly status disappeared, so other companies (like TW) started
designing and rolling out their own networks.  These networks
generally have far less than 99.999% uptime--which makes sense,
because the five nines uptime was really only required for defense
applications (ARPAnet).  The new networks were exponentially cheaper,
and the new companies were able to develop them much faster.

However, AT&T was (and is) still stuck with a network designed to run
at five nines uptime, and this network puts a massive drain on AT&T's
budget.  Even worse for AT&T, a number of corporate customers now
demand five nines uptime, so AT&T is really stuck: it can't downgrade
the network, because it would lose corporate customers, but it can't
quickly upgrade the network, because it would cost too much.

Nonetheless, AT&T is slowly upgrading their network to run on fiber
rather than copper.  All the new housing developments are receiving
fiber optic Internet connections, and older housing developments are
being transitioned to run on fiber as well.

The U-verse model is designed to work around the current issues, too:
video is efficiently compressed using H.264, and it's piped over fiber
as far as it can go, at which point it switches to go over the current
copper wiring.  Unfortunately, nothing can run over copper too far
without significant signal degradation, so U-verse is available only
in areas that have been primarily migrated to fiber optics.

So that's where the situation stands, to the best of my knowledge.
We'll just have to see where AT&T et al. go from here.

Take care,

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