SBC brings fiber to small businesses, consumers

SBC Communications Inc. on Wednesday described its plan to roll out direct fiber connections to small businesses and residential customers -- the next phase of SBC's Project Pronto.

SBC intends Project Pronto to allow businesses and consumers to connect to a fiber-optic line from neighborhood hubs instead of from larger central offices. Since DSL (digital subscriber line) and other broadband services depend on a relatively short distance to the central office for service, a neighborhood-level hub could bring faster Internet services to more people.

The company plans to use BPON (broadband passive optical networking) technologies to make direct-fiber connections to smaller customers efficient and cost-effective, SBC said in a release. BPON combines wave division multiplexing (WDM) and passive optical networking (PON). BPON transmits multiple wavelengths of light simultaneously through a fiber-optic line, without having to use additional signal-boosting gear or intermediary electronics outside of the central office.

SBC began deploying the passive optical network platform this month, rolling out T-1 service for small businesses in Houston off older infrastructure. SBC projects about 1,000 installations of PON services by year-end and about 9,000 installations in 2002. The company will also provide direct fiber connections to the Mission Bay community, a 303-acre residential and business development planned for the University of California at San Francisco. Plans for the community called for direct fiber services for its 6,000 residents and commercial occupants.

SBC said Mission Bay will be a model for SBC's initial residential deployments of direct fiber, where the infrastructure can be cost-effectively implemented or the project developer takes an active role in helping to build out the broadband infrastructure.

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