Other telcos besides U S West Communications are showing
keen interest in full-service capabilities.
In one indication, GTE Corp., SBC Communications Inc.,
BellSouth Corp. and Bell Canada have joined forces with Japan's National Telephone
and Telegraph, seven European carriers and Telstra Corp. of Australia in a broadband
initiative known as the "Full Service Access Network."
SBC's participation belies its image as a telco with
no interest in offering video services. In fact, SBC spokesman Brian Posnanski said, the
company sees full-service capability as essential in the long term, although it
hasn't felt any immediate pressure to move ahead, given the unappealing technology
options that have been available up to now.
VDSL (very high-speed digital subscriber line) architecture
makes a lot of sense, Posnanski said.
"Fiber gets you to the neighborhood, and copper gets
you to the customer," he noted.
SBC subsidiary Pacific Bell recently terminated its foray
into hybrid fiber-coaxial, but PacBell has been especially aggressive as far as spending
on local-loop improvements. The telco spent $815 million, representing 40 percent of its
1997 capital budget, to upgrade its distribution plant last year, Posnanski said.
"We're putting a lot of fiber in the local loop
in California, and in Texas, as well," he added.
Bell Atlantic Corp., which has slowed deployment of its
fiber-to-the curb broadband network in the Philadelphia area and beyond, remains committed
to its large-scale fiber strategy. The telco plans to eventually add video and data
services to voice over such facilities, said Bell Atlantic spokeswoman Shannon Fioravanti.
"Our plans for the full-service network are still very
much alive, but we're taking time to study new technical developments to ensure that
what we deploy isn't outdated before we finish the job," she said.
The group hopes to generate a uniform approach to
fiber-to-the-node VDSL and FTTC systems in hopes that vendors will have product ready
sometime next year. It also has a fiber-to-the-home initiative under way with a more
open-ended deployment time frame.