Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kabel-X: Copper-to-fiber with limited digging

Take a look at this: FTTH made cheap & easy. Kabel-X touts 'Copper to Fibre without excavation'. Taking excavation (or really: replacing it with some other labour) out of the equation will "save your business up to 200,000 euros per kilometre compared to conventional digging".
Besides, the copper can be sold at 20-30 $/meter and will no longer attract individuals with unhealthy intentions.
Kabel-X already has a long list of customers: Deutsche Telekom, BT, KPN, Swisscom, Telekom Austria, O2, UPC, Elisa. I am not sure if the cost advantages are already incorporated in the FTTH business plan calculations these operators no doubt all have done. So far, they all maintain that the business case is not viable, but the lack of support from investors seems to be the true reason why FTTH is not yet widespread.

Any way, if the technology really works, it could have far reaching consequenses, but I see a couple of limitations.

First, fiber may not necessarily be put in the ground at the exact same location where the old copper is. This is especially true when it comes to connecting street cabinets to MDF locations. A valued reader recently asked me how KPN works at this, since it is moving from LLU/ADSL to FTTN/SLU/VDSL for its All-IP network. KPN confirmed that in many cases the copper stays in the ground for this reason (at least until it needs to be removed for regulatory reasons).

Second, when it comes to the last mile (FTTH, esp. active ethernet for point-to-point), regulation has to be in place - one way (no sharing, as is the case in the US) or the other (open access seems to be here to stay in Europe). GPON architecture (point-to-multipoint) may run across a completely different route than the existing copper network.

Third, Verizon (FiOS) attracts a some criticism for ripping out copper wiring in the last few feet (but this doesn't seem to be where the technology could be used - unless you have a really big place). A switch back to DSL is not possible, even if this seems more of a regulatory concern than something anybody would really want (customer satisfaction over FiOS is very high).


Zed said...

Kabel-X has been making the rounds at various trade conventions and it sounds like a good ideaa. But, as always, there are caveats. You've mentioned some of them yourself, but what you excluded was that the technique is really expensive. As such I don't see many applications that are financially motivated. Kabel-X is really only an option in expensive, urban brownfield environments where you really must rip open the streets. Microducting and even normal trenching is much cheaper.

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salman said...

Are there any competitors for Kabel-X company and is there any other company providing some other solution of replacing copper with fiber.