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10/31/2003 - Fiber to the Home Hot at Zero dB

Over 450 communities around the United States are working on a network of optical fiber for the purpose of connecting fiber to the home. According to Dana Bisaro, CEO of Zero dB and board member of the national Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council, these networks are being created as part of the municipal infrastructure --- like roads, water systems, and sewers. Making it a public entity keeps the cost to the rate payer affordable so that the entire population may benefit. If private enterprise were involved, the network would have to be priced for profitability.

"No question," says Bisaro, "it does promote economic development." "Economic development comes from within,"Bisaro continues, "in the five cities we have been involved with, little companies popped up using the infrastructure --- there was no barrier to entry."

Zero dB is a consulting engineering firm who 'engineers the speed of light.' (See Zero dB Dazzles with Engineering Pizzazz. http://www.terabytetriangle.com/index.php/id=5&article_ID=86.)

My conversation with Mr. Bisaro began with an explanation of optical fiber and some of the technical difficulties involved in 'engineering the speed of light.' There are several different kinds of optical fiber, and they don't necessarily work well with each other. A long haul cable may be made up of several different kinds of fiber in different parts of the country. The cable must be engineered so that there is no loss of integrity, quality, or speed. Zero dB has worked with the largest of fiber pipes --- capable of transferring terabytes of data with Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) --- down to single optical fiber strands. With multiplexing, up to two hundred different signals can go into one fiber at different wavelengths, and the signals simply don't even see each other.

Zero dB has been selected to build a transport link between Libby, Montana and Spokane, and to provide design work for a FTTH Network for Libby. In order to have a network that would be affordable to the end user, Bisaro counseled that the City of Libby must own exclusive rights to their network from end-to-end. For this project, Zero dB is tracing an existing dark fiber route, probably starting in the US Bank building and ending at the Libby Dam. When the dark fiber route is determined, Zero dB will do a feasibility study, prepare a budget, and an engineering design for the remainder of the route. Libby's will be an a la carte proposal with functions from the basic up to the ultimate. The network will carry voice, video, data, and content on demand. "The network must begin at a 'Carrier hotel' where bandwidth is sold and traded as a commodity," says Bisaro, "that's the only way to make a network affordable." "No network will work if you can't get access," he continued.

Zero dB created the fiber optic network initiative master plan for Cheney, Washington. They were selected to provide a feasibility study aimed at developing a local broadband telecommunications network in southern Lincoln County.

Pend Oreille County selected Zero dB to provide consulting and engineering services for their network. Zero dB will do the feasibility study, design, and budget for the County-wide program. The initial implementation will provide high speed, broadband connectivity, voice, and video to a limited number of businesses and homes as a pilot program for the area. The plan is to eventually provide a fiber connection to every power meter in the Pend Oreille County.

Fontana, California has short listed Zero dB to perform the same services for them. The cost of the Fontana FTTH system project is estimated at between $80 and $100 million. Fontana has 57,000 homes, and the plan is to connect most of them if not all.

Zero dB and Bisaro absolutely believe that municipal networks with fiber to the home are the future. "We are the top engineering company in the United States doing this kind of work," says Bisaro. The more educated the public becomes about optical fiber, broadband, and what it can do, the more they will want to have access, according to Bisaro.

To learn more about Zero dB, go to: www.zerodb.net. To learn more about the Fiber to the Home Council, go to: http://www.ftthcouncil.org/overview.tpl.

Billie Moreland
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