ATLANTA, SAN ANTONIO, and NEW YORK - Three of the nation's largest telecommunications service providers -- BellSouth (NYSE:BLS), SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE:SBC) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) -- have adopted a set of common technical requirements based on established industry standards and specifications for a technology known as fiber to the premises (FTTP). These advanced fiber-optic systems can be used to connect homes and businesses to telecom networks.
Today's announcement is a major step in paving the way for deployment of next-generation broadband networks that offer nearly limitless bandwidth for home and business Internet, voice and innovative new video services. FTTP, whether to the curb or to the building, will provide an ideal platform to support a number of emerging and evolving applications, such as interactive gaming, photo sharing, PC backup and telecommuting, along with video conferencing, premises surveillance and other novel video services, which could be delivered on demand and in high definition.
The use of common technical requirements, based on existing technical standards, will enable equipment manufacturers to more cost-effectively develop and build FTTP equipment for BellSouth, SBC Communications, Verizon and other service providers. Today's announcement positions the industry for economic deployment of fiber optics much closer to homes and businesses, enabling these communications customers to see faster rollout of powerful broadband services. In addition, the new technology will offer enhanced overall network reliability and service quality.
The three service providers today issued a letter to telecom equipment manufacturers, alerting them that the providers will soon be seeking proposals for equipment based on the common requirements. BellSouth, SBC and Verizon will independently finalize their FTTP deployment plans for 2004 and beyond, based on the evaluation of these proposals, ongoing internal studies, and on the resolution of related regulatory issues.
Upcoming rulings from the FCC could settle some of the uncertainty regarding new technologies such as FTTP and clear the path for companies to deploy new and powerful networks. For example, the FCC is expected to soon issue its final order under its Triennial Review of network interconnection regulations. That ruling, the first of several anticipated, is expected to include provisions that more clearly set forth the FCC's policy regarding new network technologies like FTTP, including the extent to which unbundling and pricing regulations such as those imposed on traditional copper technologies will apply on a nationwide basis. The FCC also has additional proceedings under way to address other potential regulatory hurdles to deployment of these new technologies.
FTTP will enable service providers to deliver nearly unlimited bandwidth and a full range of applications directly to residential and business customers. FTTP can accommodate next-generation applications such as ultra high-speed Internet access and networking, multiple voice lines and innovative, even high-definition video applications.
"Fiber to the premises could be the most fundamental and important enhancement in telecom communications services since wireless networks were built," said Matt Davis, director of Broadband Access Technologies at the Yankee Group. "With these common technology requirements, and the expected resulting manufacturing economies, widespread FTTP deployment has the potential to spur new telecom investment, stimulate competition across the spectrum of communications and entertainment services, and enable innovative, bandwidth-hungry applications for consumers."
Bill Smith, chief product development and technology officer, BellSouth, said, "BellSouth has always been a leader in the deployment of fiber deep within its network, resulting in almost one million households passed by the end of 2003. This new platform, along with favorable regulatory actions, could allow BellSouth to offer additional advantages to our customers, and we plan to work quickly to select and deploy products that will ensure the most cost-effective network design."
Ross Ireland, chief technology officer, SBC Communications, said, "This development could set the foundation for the network of the next century, coupled with the core high-speed voice and data networks in place today. Given a supportive regulatory environment, we can begin to build a network that will profoundly change the way Americans communicate."
Mark A. Wegleitner, Verizon's chief technology officer, said, "As we deploy it, fiber to the premises will be a watershed advancement for Verizon and our consumer and business customers. This technology is not only capable of providing the services we are familiar with today, but it also opens the door for communications, information and entertainment services previously unimagined."
BellSouth Corporation is a Fortune 100 communications services company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, serving more than 44 million customers in the United States and 14 other countries.
Consistently recognized for customer satisfaction, BellSouth companies provide a full array of broadband data solutions to large, medium and small businesses. In the residential market, BellSouth offers DSL high-speed Internet access, advanced voice features and other services. BellSouth also offers long distance service throughout its markets, serving both business and residential customers. The company's BellSouth AnswersSM package combines local and long distance service with an array of calling features; wireless data, voice and e-mail services; and high-speed DSL or dial-up Internet service. BellSouth also provides online and directory advertising services through BellSouth® RealPages.comSM and The Real Yellow Pages®.
BellSouth owns 40 percent of Cingular Wireless, the nation's second largest wireless company, which provides innovative data and voice services.
SBC Communications Inc. (www.sbc.com) is one of the world's leading data, voice and Internet services providers. Through its world-class networks, SBC companies provide a full range of voice, data, networking and e-business services, as well as directory advertising and publishing. A Fortune 30 company, SBC is America's leading provider of high-speed DSL Internet Access services and one of the nation's leading Internet Service Providers. SBC companies currently serve 57 million access lines nationwide. In addition, SBC companies own 60 percent of America's second-largest wireless company, Cingular Wireless, which serves 22 million wireless customers. Internationally, SBC companies have telecommunications investments in 22 countries.
A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 136.6 million access line equivalents and 33.3 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third-largest long-distance service provider for U.S. consumers, with 13.2 million long-distance lines, and the company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. With approximately $67 billion in annual revenues and 227,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.