Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Alcatel to provide LUS' Electronics

Alcatel-Lucent will provide the electronic guts for Lafayette's FTTH project. The deal was announced at a press conference this morning at City Hall. (Pic at right from left to right: Huval, Durel, and the Alcatel rep.)

Huval, Durel, and the man from Alcatel made short remarks and took questions from the press.

Durel's remarks touted the potential of the system. He emphasized that technologies that were not practically available just a few years ago are being integrated into the system. One element of that was the 100 meg intranet "peer to peer" network that all citizens, regardless of the amount they can afford to pay for their connection to the outside world, will share. As a consequence, Durel says, the network will be able to "spur the creativity" of Lafayette's people. Children in the poorest sections of town, paying the least amount of money, will have the same access within Lafayette itself, as those in the wealthiest parts of town will have. And both will have capacities that no one will have elsewhere. That's something to look forward to. He's clearly proud of the system saying that Lafayette will be the most connected town in the states--especially if the state can be convinced to tie in LONI and LITE.

Huval's comments were, as one might expect, more technical. He emphasized the peer to peer (intranet) bandwidth, the IPTV aspects, HD streams for every room in the house, "customized video," the ability of the box that hangs on your house to handle as much as 200 megs of service and the advanced (though unspecified) capacities that Alcatel brings to the table. In response to questions Huval said that the wireless network would follow the fiber and that doing it in that way would make the wireless portion of the network much more robust. Fiber, he said, is "the fundamental infrastructure to support wireless." Huval also emphasized a point that he's made repeatedly: the network will support both old style black rotary telephones and hypermodern VOIP phone integration. You'll be able to plug in that old black and white TV and use it for basic cable without a settop box. Or you'll be able to move yourself entirely to IPTV interaction and video downloads. This network will cover the entire range of possible products.

Digital Divide advocates will be interested to know that Durel made a glancing remark about being able to do things in that department that will be impossible elsewhere and with Councilman Chris Williams—who had made the question central to his support of the project— standing in the background I briefly thought things were gearing up for an announcement but none was immediately forthcoming. Hmmmn.

Excerpts from the press release:
City-Parish President Joey Durel and Lafayette Utilities System today announced the selection of Alcatel-Lucent to provide critical components for the Fiber-to-The-Home project now under way. The company was one of six vying for the LUS project. After reviewing the bids, a panel comprised of LUS officials and representatives from Atlantic Engineering Group, CCG Consulting and RW Beck decided that Alcatel-Lucent was best suited for the project. The deal is contingent upon final contract terms...

Alcatel-Lucent remains the uncontested market leader in broadband access with more than 142 million DSL lines shipped and a cumulative market share of 41 percent, more than three times that of its nearest competitor. More than 165 customers have adopted the ISAM product family – the industry’s first true high-end IP access platform that accommodates a wide range of network flavors and topologies. Alcatel-Lucent is engaged in more than 65 FTTx projects around the world, more than 35 of which are with GPON. “We have witnessed the capabilities of this company and have seen for ourselves the quality of their products and services,” added Joey Durel, Lafayette City-Parish President...

Alcatel-Lucent’s FTTH components will provide cable, phone, Internet and a broad range of features, from features like a standard cable connection for Advanced Basic and Basic services, to state-of-the-art Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) with flexible and advanced aspects previously unimaginable in Lafayette. The system will also be capable of 100 Mbps peer-to-peer communications in addition to several levels of Internet access, traditional phone services as well as the newer Voice over IP service. The system will be scalable to allow for future growth to accommodate advanced services as they are developed.
Besides the before-the-camera representatives of the project the event was also attended by the technical and support staff from LUS. At the end of the presentation there was a round of applause; applause, I'd like to think, that was for them. It's been a long slog for those doing the nitty-gritty work of getting this project underway.

I'll go dig around and see what I can see about the Alcatel family of equipment but today is a momentous day: The electronics define what will be available to us and with the letting of this contract that is all starting to shape. We should soon be able to figure out what our network will look like. (And yes, it would be nice if LUS would just tell us and be a little less cautious about talking about things...)

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