Friday, January 30, 2009

AT&T And Verizon FTTH On The Same Block?

From Things get really weird down in Texas...

Verizon has started laying fiber in some neighborhoods that are already served by AT&T U-Verse. The select broadband incursions may evolve into a broader battle, depending on who you ask. Some believe any AT&T or Verizon direct competition could remain limited to very select greenfield developments in just a handful of Texas areas. Others think that once Verizon gets a taste of greenfield profits, they'll expand the idea into states like California.

Light Reading editor Phil Harvey e-mails me to note they've taken photographs of the only town in the U.S. where you can see AT&T and Verizon FTTH gear on the same block. AT&T forgoes VDSL/FTTN for FTTH in some developments, though they cap the bandwidth delivered back to the same max speed of regular VDSL U-Verse (up to 18Mbps, at least until AT&T perfects channel bonding).

That would seemingly give Verizon, whose top speed is 50Mbps, the advantage in any head to head battle. At least in terms of speed -- AT&T could offer more alluring bundles. In many high-end greenfield developments though, price isn't going to be as important as just getting the best product. Most budget-minded consumers in lower ROI regions will probably never have to worry about AT&T and Verizon fighting to offer them FTTH.

The photos are from a new Frisco, Texas development, and (probably to AT&T and Verizon's chagrin) show both carrier's cabinets all up close and personal like -- both inside and out. Despite the boxes being so close, they're still serving different upscale developments. For now, anyway. Verizon will be lighting up FiOS in AT&T areas over the next few months -- the first time the two giants will go head to head.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

N.C. Contradictions: Mapping General Election Territory

This is a republication of Angie Santiago's May 2008 article from her NC Contradictions series in The Huffington Post.

Historic Saxapahaw, N.C. -- As I continue to travel east on 54 from Graham to Chapel Hill, I pass by a sign that reads, "Mebane - 10". I remind myself to take that turn sometime. Here 54 is wide enough to accommodate trucks transporting logs or livestock, allowing them to avoid the Interstate, where they're a target for highway patrols regulating weight and seeking permits. During the day, the drive along 54 East is uneventful but come sundown it transforms into a dark foggy deer-ridden obstacle course. The first thing I learned about navigating this area at night is that deer travel in packs. If you see one grazing along the road, there are probably three to five of them just waiting for their chance to run towards your car rather than away. Here they are a nuisance that eat my neighbor's crops or the food intended for their livestock. It's a beautiful drive and it's hard to believe it's just fifteen minutes from town because it seems so distant. I can listen to full NPR programming when I take this nice road.

The next sign directs me to turn left toward Saxapahaw, a remote self-contained five-and-half square mile community once known for its state of the art hydroelectric powered yarn mill founded and managed by B. Everett Jordan's Sellers Manufacturing and later expanded to Sellers Dyeing and Jordan Spinning Company. Saxapahaw is 13 miles from everywhere in the middle of nowhere but it may have been the home of the mysterious extinct tribe of Native Americans, the Sissipahaw Indians. The mill was sold to another company in the 1970's. Like so many manufacturing and textile concerns, it fell victim to NAFTA and closed its doors in 1994. Armed with their trusted family name and a degrees from Duke and NC State, including a Masters in Architecture, Mr. Jordan's son Mac led the charge to raise funds to re-purchase the mill and develop it into the historic Rivermill Village.

I walked the stairs to the musty office and waited for John Jordan, another descendant of the famous Saxapahaw family, to arrive. Surrounded by blueprints, family pictures, historical photos, and political cartoons, Mr. Jordan came in with a packaged lunch for his wife, Irlene, who was waiting for him at home. Peppered throughout the state, there are monuments, dams, lakes, and schools named in honor of his father, B. Everett Jordan, a Democratic U.S. Senator from 1958 to 1973. This Mr. Jordan, however, is a registered Republican. Now that's a story I need to follow up on.

When asked about what change meant to him during this election he asked: Change from what? Change to what? Interest rates are low. Do we want them higher? Terrorists have not attacked America again. The unemployment rate is low. Stocks are good. Americans spent $100 million dollars at the movies this weekend.

As a property investor and manager, Mr. Jordan cited the fraudulent bait and switch practice of sub-prime loan industry as the real reason people are losing their homes. Given enough time the housing market will straighten itself out. "Things aren't as bad they say," Mr. Jordan defended. History will show that the current Bush administration was inaccurately portrayed.

With respect to rising fuel prices, Mr. Jordan shared that the number one problem in this country is our dependence on foreign oil and people's lack of ownership to do their part. Since 9/11 Mr. Jordan purchased two hybrid cars but still drives less. A true believer in microeconomics, Mr. Jordan hopes that consumers will take a stand by making better choices to drive less, conserve energy, carpool, and take public transportation, if available. Such choices should lower the demand for oil and prices. He would like to see public policy leaders and environmentalists compromise, collaborate and reconsider drilling for oil in our own territory as well as develop alternative methods of energy. Public policy leaders should also invest in public transportation to reduce the commuting and the demand on fuel.

He cast his vote for John McCain because he believes that America is safer, the economy is strong, and jobs are being created. So why change that?