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Broadband access: comparing alternatives

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2 Author(s)
Pugh, W. ; Global Public Networks Unit, AT&T Bell Labs., Whippany, NJ, USA ; Boyer, G.

Capital investments by network providers to develop broadband access for the information superhighway have inherent risks. Nevertheless, potential rewards to telephone companies, cable TV companies, and others for serving the end consumer in an expanding information economy make such investments a business imperative. This article focuses on the incumbent terrestrial access providers, the telephone local exchange carriers (LECs) and cable multiple system operators (MSOs). First, it cites the business environment and the information highway services that are driving local telephone and cable companies to invest in broadband access, as evolving technology and relaxing regulation enable the convergence of these two industries. Broadband access technologies are then reviewed and evolutionary paths from the respective embedded bases are considered, with respect to both today's choices and the long-term vision. The two choices for broadband access are loosely termed hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) and switched digital video (SDV). The thrust of this article is to explain why these two alternatives overshadow all others and to highlight the decision factors facing network providers in choosing between them

Published in:

Communications Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:33 ,  Issue: 8 )