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Verizon to offer symmetric FiOS?

Verizon LogoThe Washington Post had an engaging interview with Verizon CEO Seidenberg on Tuesday. One item stood out in the extended excerpts made available by the Post. It sounds like symmetric access is on Seidenberg’s mind.

First of all, when you have 50 to 100 megabits, and you have symmetry of upstream and downstream speeds, now you are thinking in much different concepts.

Whoa. Did he say symmetric 50M to 100M access? A lot of people would find that newsworthy. The Passive Optical Network they are deploying could support these speeds, though an upgrade to G-PON would really be needed to support more than a few households on a shared net. Even then, it would be straightforward to modify the fiber splitting cabinets to offer some subscribers symmetric access.

Another interesting part of the interview focused on whether Verizon would bother to provide video service to small municipalities (FiOS TV) if they made the franchising process too difficult:

If the company does not get some relief, Seidenberg said, it will have to reconsider whether to serve small franchises and might instead focus on big ones.

“This is the only threatening comment I’ll make. . . . Remember, there are some franchises that are big. So let’s take the city of Philadelphia — it’s big,” he said. “Then you’ve got all these oodles of them in the state of New Jersey, or Virginia.

I’d like to see elected officials of small towns explain why they didn’t bring in a competitive video provider. He is pushing for federally mandated removal of franchising, which I think is a mistake. The local municipalities that stand in the way will eventually bend, like they did in Florida.

Some good quotes from the excerpts:

I am always interested in listening to investors who do 10-year discounted cash flows and then worry about [your] next quarter’s earnings.

True. How many long term investors out there obsess over an extra penny or two of earnings?


We know how to do that. It’s what we do. And so whether we do it in one year or three years, we are going to do this. We are going to do it well. I think . . . most of the people creating the noise around us are our competitors, who have frankly tried to convince the investors that the investments aren’t prudent. So why would anybody listen to the cable companies tell them what our costs are? I think a lot of investors, and some press, are getting spun by the cable companies by saying, well these guys can’t afford to do this. We can do it. We know how to do it. We know how to get the costs down.

On the lack of FiOS subscriber details:

I would be the first to suggest that while we are very pleased with the early results, they represent early results, and I think that we frankly we are doing far better than I thought we would but we need more consistent performance to make sure that this is sustainable and we’ll demonstrate that.

And it is clear he believes in my Industrial Accident model:

What can you do with these kinds of networks that people couldn’t even dream of thinking about five years ago? . . . I would prefer, at least on this, to admit I don’t know all the answers but I don’t want anybody capping the capability of what we are doing simply because we haven’t thought of all the things people will invent. This is an important point to me, because I think it’s an untapped understanding of what we’re about. Not to pick on the world but, even 20 years ago people never saw the full capability of wireless . . . but yet, there were people in the industry, some of us, guys like Craig McCaw, and others who believed that this was gong to change behavior and you know what, [we] were right . . . This is almost religious . . . religious with proper financial accounting.


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  1. Not quite symmetric.

    Ivan’s moving in the right direction, but he slightly mis described the technology. Verizon’s next generation will be GPON, which will move from the labs to the field in about a year form now. It’s 2.4 gig downstream, 1.2 gig upstream, efficiently shared (in the labs), divided up to 64 ways.

    That should consistently provide 100 meg and more nearly all the time, given that most consumers are using only a fraction of their bandwidth at any given moment. But it’s not inherently symmetric. 2:1 downstream:upstream is better than the 4:1 of the current BPON, the 8:1 of ADSL, and the 20:1 of most cable systems, however.

    DOCSIS 3.0 cable is typically 4:3, but exists only on paper today.

    Dave Burstein (I edit DSL Prime, the industry newsletter).

    Good analysis on this site, incidentally.

    Posted by Dave Burstein | February 2, 2006, 1:58 PM
  2. There is nothing that prevents Verizon from selectively provisioning some of the users on the shared PON to have symmetrical bandwidth – i.e. some users get a 100M chunk of the 1.2G upstream bandwidth. This could either be ‘burstable’ bandwidth that is policed and shaped or could be nailed up. The NTT GE-PON deployments quote out 100M (and all the pundits in the US point to how they have 100M and we don’t) but the reality is it’s a shared raw 1.25G connection with far lower effective bandwidth.

    In aggregate, you have your numbers right.

    Also, I think the optical link budgets for G-PONare such that supporting 64 users at this point is challenging.

    I think I’ve met you before in my previous career.

    Posted by Andrew Schmitt | February 2, 2006, 2:53 PM
  3. Seidenberg is a great guy, and almost a visionary. But even though 100 mbps sounds great, that’s something the cable industry can come up to almost at the same time the telcos do. The difference is at >1Gbps per connection.

    Also, the big talk is taking away the real issue: MONEY!

    Three years ago I wrote a report, FiberBroadband versus PON, in which I laid out the limitations of PON technology and its inherent upgrades by (early)adopters/buyers. Guess what’s happening now? They need to switch from xPON to G(E)Pon. Now, that’s a costly event.

    Then there is the fact that you have an inherent limitation on the bandwidth. The PON technology exists to make suckers out of its buyers (telcos and CATV operarots). Why? Well, you need an x amount PONs for an x amount subscribers? Get it? Seeing the years flying by and PON still being considered the holy grail of bandwidht I guess you guys don’t get it.

    Posted by Neal S. Lachman | February 7, 2006, 12:37 PM
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  5. FTTHblog » Symmetric 100 Mbps FTTH Fios Service from Verizon? | February 3, 2006, 12:45 AM