Community Broadband Networks 
Recent Blog Headlines
About Al Bonnyman
"What's this blog thing about, anyway?"
Partial list: power utilities with fiber

Sponsored by:
Fiber Planners Inc.
Designers of fiber networks for electric utilities and communities.

News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

Enter your email address below to subscribe to Community Broadband Networks:

powered by Bloglet
If the subscription form returns an error, send an e-mail to

Index of 2100 previous posts since March 2003

  Search help

Send news updates and feedback to:
Al Bonnyman

Sponsored by:

Fiber Planners logo

Some of the topics we cover:

  • ADSS cable technology
  • OPGW cable technology
  • Fiber to the home
  • Powerline broadband
  • Fixed wireless broadband
  • Other power utility telecom topics
  • Innovative fiber deployment technologies

Recent headlines:

Links to other blogs and free-form news sites:

Other links:

Note: comments posted are strictly the opinion of the poster and not necessarily those of Fiber Planners Inc. or any other posters.


Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Merry Christmas!

Have a Merry Christmas -- we'll be back with more posts in a few days.




So what's a "blog" and how does this one work?

A friend of mine found my blog, signed up for a subscription, then sent me an e-mail asking me just what a blog was and how it worked. I thought others might have the same questions, so I've posted our exchange:

What's a blog?

"I will be honest, I am not too familiar with what is a "blog". I was doing some research and came across one of your "posts" on the net and followed the links and signed up for a subscription."

A blog (short for "weblog") is an ongoing commentary, usually updated daily or weekly by an individual. If you click on some of the links in the left hand column of my blog, they'll take you to other, somewhat relevant blogs. Several very different lists of "the top blogs" can be found at these sites:

Blogs are especially popular with younger adults and with people working in high tech. Blog content is purely up to the owner -- many consist of very personal, "dear diary" type entries about deep personal feelings. Others cover politics or sports. Most feature links to other stories or pages on the web.

What's this blog cover?

My own blog covers the areas I'm interested in professionally:
  • Power utilities' telecommunications businesses
  • Special fiber and telecommunications technology for power utilities
    • OPGW (optical groundwire)
    • ADSS (all-dielectric, self-supporting) fiber cable
    • wrap cable
    • power line communications, both the narrowband kind -- used for years for metering and relaying -- and the emerging field of power line broadband (sometimes called "broadband over power lines" or "BPL")
    • outside plant design and construction issues

  • Since power utilities -- especially municipal utilities -- are getting into last miles broadband access, I'm also covering 3 key last mile access technologies:
    • FTTH (fiber to the home)
    • power line broadband
    • wireless broadband

Often, I'll touch on what cable TV companies and telephone companies do since they have a big impact on what power utilities are doing. For instance, Verizon's decision to build FTTH to 1 million homes in 2004 will have a big impact on equipment costs and availability for power utilities building FTTH systems.

Likewise, sometimes I'll post on legal and regulatory issues.

My hope is that readers -- especially at electric utilities -- will use this blog as a "cookbook" of ideas for their own systems. To date, there are over 1500 posts on these topics -- if you're looking for more information on a particular topic, you can use the built-in Google search function to dig up previous posts.

How does your blog work?

"The information available on your site is definitely very interesting. But I am not quite sure how everything works --? i.e., how to have a link added or to make a comment?"

Every day (when I'm not too busy or traveling), I try to post links to stories of interest on the web. You can e-mail me a link if it's on a new topic. If you want to comment on one of my posts, click on the comments hyperlink (at the end of each post) and a comments box should open. I'm eager to get more comments.

This is a public web site, so you don't have to subscribe. If you do sign up for a "subscription" via the Bloglet service, you should start getting a daily e-mail summary of blog posts. Some days Bloglet doesn't work, but I can't really complain, given the fact that it's a free service run as a public service by Monsur Hossain.

How about similar blogs?

"Are there other similar sites as yours?"

Not exactly except for wireless broadband topics -- see especially Esme Vos's MuniWireless site and the Daily Wireless blog. Other blogs hit on some of the areas I cover -- see the list on the left side column of my blog.

"is there one for OPGW?"
No -- so far, I'm the closest thing, so I encourage you to send me news items and links to post. Or, start your own blog.

Who are you anyway?

Here's a question my friend did not ask, obviously, but I'm sure others are wondering. I work for Fiber Planners Inc. designing and troubleshooting fiber networks for power utilities and municipalities. For more information on my background and that of the other key people at Fiber Planners, you can check out the "About Fiber Planners" page.


Monday, December 22, 2003


Press coverage of Verizon's FTTP announcement earlier today

Several articles have come out since Verizon announced additional FTTP (fiber to the premises) vendors and deployment details this morning.

Jo Maitland with Light Reading quotes both our earlier blog entry and the Verizon press release, then goes on to clear up several questions I had asked. First, Verizon will definitely offer video but is not saying exactly what. Second, Verizon will do most of the OSS software work in house and admits it will be extensive.

Finally, Ms. Maitland quotes a Legg Mason analyst who asserts "that these contracts are "non-exclusive pacts that guarantee no certain volumes ... these vendors have been invited to participate in the start-up phase of a long-term last-mile-of-the-network conversion that is, in our view, likely to take several twists and turns as standards evolve, bandwidth requirements increase, and the competitive landscape shifts. How it will all play out and which vendors will be the big winners in the FTTH build out five to ten years down the road, we believe, is impossible to know at this stage of the game.'" has an article looking at the economics of FTTP for the Bells and concluding they're unimpressive, based on one third of the homes passed signing up for voice and data service. That analysis makes no sense to me however, since probably 90+% of the homes will take phone service (they're already using Verizon, aren't they??) and probably at least half will take data services (since they'll be so much faster than anything available from competitors). That leaves video as the battleground. If no homes take video services, then Verizon's investors probably will be disappointed. If, on the other hand, Verizon gets its' act together on video delivery, programming, pricing and marketing, then its' FTTP investment could be very profitable.'s article looks at some of the regulatory politics associated with the Bells and FTTP; the article in turn pointed me towards a good article by Bell-watcher and broadband guru Dave Burstein. Dave notes that the Bells have just about worn out their welcome at the FCC if they don't go ahead and get going on FTTP deployments.

Dave's own website, DSL Prime is a weekly must-read. Nobody knows more about what's really happening at all the Bells than Dave does and it will be interesting to read his comments on today's news when he posts them.



Search engine logic

Every month or two, I look at this site's web access logs to see what key words are sending search engine users to this site. There are always some surprises, as this list shows:

'Milford+Massachusetts+Police+Log+for+November+6 +2003'
'"zoom in" breasts'  
'gondola makers wages'  
'peeping tom laws massachusetts' 
'amigos 2003/2004 email in london' 
'2003/2004 email address of drug manufacturing company in india'  
'slashdot google regulated utility water' 



Japan: FTTH subscribers reach 1 million

In Japan, FTTH (fiber to the home) subscribers have passed the 1 million mark.



Municipal broadband networks pay taxes, too.

Well, actually they make "tax equivalency" payments, as this article about Glasgow Electric Plant Board's payments illustrates.

Opponents of municipal broadband projects often argue falsely municipal utilities don't pay the franchise fees and local taxes that cable TV companies pay.



California: "Truckee Leads Way for Small Town Hi-Tech Communications"

Truckee Donner Public Utility District press release on their FTTH (fiber to the home) network.



Russia: Golden Line deploys Terawave PON gear in Moscow FTTP project

Passive optical network (PON) vendor Terawave is supplying equipment for Russian carrier Golden Line's FTTP (fiber to the premises) deployments in Moscow.



North Carolina: "Cable worker electrocuted in Lumberton"

Still another (1,2) cable TV worker has been electrocuted, this time in Lumberton, North Carolina. The exact cause of the accident has not been published.

The National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) requires cable TV companies maintain a minimum distance of 40 inches between their cable and the lowest power system conductor or cable for safety reasons. No details were available regarding this accident, so it's too soon to say it resulted from a safety zone violation.

Many cable TV companies and their contractors routinely violate the NESC safety zone rather than pay the $3000+ to buy a taller pole with more vertical space. We commonly see at least several violations per mile at the power utilities we work for. The Bells are usually conscientious about safety zones, but their telecom competitors can sometimes as reckless about NESC safety violations as cable TV operators.

Unfortunately, some designers and builders of municipal broadband systems follow the same unsafe design and construction practices. They'll even say they're installing non-metallic ADSS cable, then go on to install it in the safety zone with cable TV crews, hazarding electrocutions and opening the municipality up to serious liability issues.



Washington: "Qwest blasted for outages"

In spite of multiple cases of deliberate sabotage to fiber cables in the Bellingham, Washington area since 2001, Qwest has continued to drag its' feet on building in a redundant link. Now the Bellingham police chief is demanding that state regulators intervene to force Qwest to upgrade.

A running tabulation of fiber outages based on Google searches over the last several months shows Qwest with many more than the other 3, bigger Bells. This would seem to imply they've invested less in redundancy and reliability.



Washington: State Senate holds hearing on BPL

The Washington State Senate held a hearing earlier this month on broadband over power line (BPL) technology with both advocates and opponents testifying.



Japan: KDDI adds new video on demand to FTTH offerings

Japanese carrier KDDI has added new video on demand (VOD) services to the the services available to its' FTTH (fiber to the home) customers. The press release includes pricing and various options available to subscribers (108 Yen = $1.00 U.S.). Americans reading this press release will be especially envious, even if they're not interested in the extensive Karaoke offerings.

A recent message thread on the Light Reading message boards sheds some interesting light on the structural difference between the FTTH (and cable TV) markets in Japan and the U.S. Especially interesting messages were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.



Verizon picks 4 more FTTP vendors: Corning, Tyco, PLP and ADC

Verizon announced this morning that it had "completed" the selection of vendors for its FTTP (fiber to the premises) program. The four vendors announced today -- Corning Cable Systems, Tyco, Preformed Line products (PLP) and ADC -- will provide fiber-optic cabling and other outside plant equipment, also known as the "passive" elements of the FTTP system.

It's not clear which vendors are providing which products, since many of their product lines overlap. It gets even more confusing when you note that Verizon had already picked Pirelli, Sumitomo and Fiber Optic Network Solutions (FONS) as FTTP passive element vendors earlier this fall. Pirelli, Sumitomo and Corning all make fiber optic cable, for instance. PLP, Tyco and Corning make splice closures. Most of these players make short connectorized fiber jumpers. Are these selections exclusive for individual products or is Verizon selecting multiple vendors to pit against each other? My guess is the latter, but if you know the real details, feel free to hit the "comments" link below and enlighten us.

PON (passive optical network) vendor Advanced Fibre Communications (AFC) remains an exclusive vendor (for now) for the "central office electronics" (does that mean that AFC may have competition for the electronics on the side of each house?).

Verizon's press release also had some information on deployment:
  • Two FTTP trials in the first half of 2004
  • Additional deployments in 100 central offices across 9 states
  • Deployments will consist of both "greenfield" (new residential construction) and overbuild (deploying fiber to existing subscribers now served by copper) projects
  • Total homes passed in 2004: 1 million
  • Verizon's deployment pace may "potentially" double in 2005
  • Verizon will not increase total capital expenditures but will rather shift them from copper to fiber

Verizon's press release continued the company's call for more favorable regulations from the FCC ("regulatory clarity" in Verizon's words).

Left unmentioned was the services Verizon intends to offer -- will they offer a cable TV type service? Video on demand?

The press release stated:
""With vendor selection complete, we are continuing work on our plans as well as the development of operations support systems (OSS) to start deploying a new technology that will revolutionize this industry."

OSS support for Verizon's FTTP network will not be trivial; I've noted in previous posts (1, 2, 3, 4) that the Bells' OSSs are incredibly complex, decades-old legacy systems. For this reason, my guess is that Verizon won't offer video in the first year or two; hopefully, I'm wrong.



Australia: PowerTel acquires Request

Australian telecommunications company PowerTel is 35% owned by 3 major power utilities and is ranked as Australia's 3rd largest carrier. PowerTel has just announced it's acquiring Request Broadband, giving the previously business-oriented PowerTel a major presence in the Australian broadband market.


Sunday, December 21, 2003


Florida: City of Leesburg may expand fiber system to nearby Clermont

The City of Leesburg, Florida may extend its' municipal fiber system outside the city to serve education customers in Clermont. Also, Lake County is asking the City to consider serving all of the County's 44 schools.



Philippines: National grid operator to upgrade telecommunications with fiber

In the Philippines, National Transmission Corp. (Transco) is upgrading the national power grid with new terrestrial and undersea transmission lines. Transco is also installing fiber optic links along with these new lines.



Utah: "Utopian dreams"

The Salt Lake Tribune has run an editorial opposing the UTOPIA FTTH (fiber to the home) project, in part because they its' competition will be unfair to existing providers Qwest and Comcast.



Illinois: Village of Matteson may consider building broadband network

The Village of Matteson, Illinois may consider building its' own broadband network; residents don't have access to any high speed Internet service.


Add email subscriptions to your blog with Bloglet! Weblog Commenting by Listed on Blogwise
The Octopus Files
My Popdex Game Profile
Technorati Profile Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

This page is powered by Blogger.