Fiber Access: The Slog Continues
by Eric Krapf

Published August 2001




The notion of a "fiber glut" in the public network backbone has a corollary: If fiber could only be extended out to the end user, there'd be plenty of use for all that excess capacity in the core, and carriers' wholesale prices might stop plunging.


There are only two problems with this view: First, fiber cannot be extended out to very many users in anything like the near termócan't be done, period. Second, the carriers best positioned to deploy fiber access linksói.e., the incumbent local and long distance carriersóaren't driven by concerns about a core "fiber glut." They are extending fiber farther out in their networks, often to the premisesóbut on their timetables, for their business reasons.


At the same time, the architecture of metropolitan networks is undergoing a subtle but significant shift. With the rise of carrier hotels and Internet datacenters, traffic is being concentrated in new bandwidth "hot spots" within the metro, and these concentration points have become natural targets for large fiber deployments. This doesn't help end users who will settle for nothing less than fiber directly into their premises, but it could offer another way for some users to access higher-bandwidth wide-area connectionsóat the cost of increased reliance on carrier services.



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