Friday, February 29, 2008

Breakthrough: Who owns the conduit? - Qui est la proprietaire des fourreux?

I stayed after the FTTH Council Meeting ended to talk to with some vendors about equipment and a friend introduced me to ACOME, a French infrastructure company which does fibre, conduit, etc. They were all getting ready to celebrate the end of the conference - unpacking the champagne from the back room of their stall - but were nice enough to talk with me and give me some advice.

I was interested in the costs of conduit and fibre but the person I spoke with (Arnaud PARIZET) wouldn't discuss anything more than whether there were existing ducts in my residence that I could use and if those ducts still had any sort of pull cables. I pulled out my computer and we took a look at the photos I posted earlier when we opened up one of the boxes.

We couldn't see much on the screen but I left the exhibition thinking that I needed to gather a bit more information. I was also very glad to see the comment from Vincent giving a bit of information about sharing ducts. It means there is still a possibility of using existing ducts and conduit for all the fibre runs - particularly all the way to the exchange which would reduce the EUR 40,000 estimate for that installation.

The breakthrough happened last night when I went home and is thanks to my wife leaving the parking lights on in the car by accident. I noticed them when I walked in the door but forgot to go back out and turn them off. One of the long-time residents drove by, pulled over his car and rang the doorbell to tell us the lights were on. He is the person who helped me open the cover of the box in his driveway to take the picture so I explained where I had been during the day and said I wanted to open up the box again this weekend and take another look to see if there was space.

That's when he said there would be plenty of space because we could simply take out the cabling inside that is no longer used for an old shared antenna in the residence! I hadn't even considered that. Apparently all the houses were connected to one centralized antenna perched somewhere in residence. However, he said that antenna was taken down in 1991 but the cables were all left in the existing conduit - the same one used by France telecom! That's great news for a number of reasons. First, it's not clear to me anymore that the conduit is even France Telecom's to begin with in the residence if there is a second set of cables for the old antenna system inside. That means we may not need permission to put our own fiber in. Second, those cables are no longer used so we could probably pull them out when we install the fiber. In some cases they could probably act as the pull cable as well!

This is great news and I'll go and take a new look inside this weekend and post the results.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

FTTH Council Europe - Notes and advice from equipment manufacturers

I'm here at the FTTH Council Europe meetings in Paris and it has been great because there are all sorts of equipment operators who can answer my questions about the rollout. I've been here with my day job but was able to stop by vendor booths over lunch.
  • The opening session had the CEOs of Free, Neuf/Cegetel and Numericable in addition to the head of Orange's FTTH project. They discussed a lot of issues but at one point someone in the audience asked whether the operators were interested in connecting suburban areas with FTTH. The CEO of Neuf/Celegtel Michel PAULIN was honest and said, "We have no plans to go out there. It's not cost effective". I don't think the operators plan on coming anytime soon.
  • I ran into the CEO of a conduit company (GM PLAST) whom I had met in Iceland a few years ago. We talked for a minute about the project and he mentioned that they may have some conduit I could buy cheaply that they couldn't sell otherwise because it has the wrong printing on it, etc. That's good news considering I don't need much. In speaking with all the conduit providers, microconduit seems to run between EUR 2-5 per meter - depending on a range of factors. That helps give me an idea of costs.
  • I also spoke with Corning Cable Systems and they were very helpful about suggesting the most cost-effective way to rollout for my case. They said that microconduit is the best way to go and that I should connect everyone at the same time. They have solutions that allow operators to quickly add new subscribers but that's not what I'd need. After talking with them I see better how I should connect the fiber within the homes as well.
  • Iit seems as if France Telecom has now made an offers for access to ducts in the previous few weeks. I'll look that up and see if it could apply in our case given we have space in the ducts going through the residence.
  • On the other hand, there is an issue of getting OUT of the box in the driveways and into the homes. I spoke with Radius and they said that drilling out of the box to the house wouldn't be that difficult. That's also good news.
  • KPH talked about something interesting in NL about raising awareness for FTTH. They gave little little flags to people who signed up to put in their lawns. It raised awareness and allowed neighbors to ask why their neighbors hadn't signed up yet. We don't really have fronts lawns but it was an interesting idea.

It has been very interesting and helpful in my planning.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Existing conduit - Foureaux existant

One of my neighbors came over to my house the other day and asked if I wanted to come open up the box in driveway to take a look at the existing conduit in the residence. The good news is the France Telecom conduit in front of most of the homes in the neighborhood. Each drop box seems to service one or two homes.

There is also plenty of space in the conduit running between boxes. When we looked in there was a lot of dirt but the cables themselves took up only a small fraction of the entire space in the tubes.

If we were able to make use of the existing conduit I can still see a problem. I don't know exactly how we would be able to get from the inside of the box out to each home. There are lines going out to each home but I figure we'd probably need to dig something new ourselves. This could pose problems as well because most of the drop boxes are in driveways.

Existing conduitTelecom box

It's certainly a possibility to consider - assuming that we could get permission from France Telecom.