Alcatel: the future is in fibre

Alcatel: the future is in fibre

Alcatel has proclaimed the future of broadband is in fibre, declaring the next generation technology will generate a plethora of new online services, including movies on demand and holographic TV.

The claims followed the opening of the networking vendor’s new Applications Centre in Alexandria, Sydney, this week.

The centre features a range of broadband technologies, such as DSL, Fibre to the Home (FTTH) and 3G/UTMS, which the telephony company is enhancing at the centre in conjunction with business partners.

During the launch, Alcatel officials displayed a multicast video-on-demand service - developed in the facility - that offered high definition video over existing DSL networks using compressed video technology.

Although such movies could be carried over DSL, Alcatel said the impending growth of fibre would better the quality of such services.

In addition, people will have simple handheld devices offering a range of services, not just phone and video. These devices will communicate with televisions or PCs to offer movies and other content. Content can then be stored on a home hard drive, offering instant digital-quality playback and letting users skip the ads.

Alcatel expects all newly-developed housing sites will have access to fibre by 2008.

Similarly, it predicted half of Australia's homes would have access by 2020, 3G technology would become widespread during 2004-2008, and 4G would start to replace it before 2012. Wireless technologies would continue to evolve, with WiMax and its successor 802.20, providing connectivity to fixed and mobile services. Furthermore, over time, new technology breakthroughs would quicken bandwidth speeds from around 1Mbps to 1Gbps for fibre, with wireless growing at a slower rate.

Alcatel innovation director, Geof Heydon, said some of the technologies, such as video using servers, already exist; it was just a matter of finding a market. Other technology applications, such as holographic TV, existed in the defence field, but had yet to be applied to the commercial market.

Heydon told ARN he expected devices for next generation broadband services would be supplied through the established channels. Brands such as Sony and Microsoft, for instance, currently offered gaming machines that might evolve into offering phone and other services.

People would increasingly care less and less about the technology behind a system, he said, so the technology would have to be simple and invisible. Users would prefer to stick to known and trusted brands, which would also avoid connectivity and integration issues.

Alcatel is working with carriers about delivering such services, and making them secure, but the question remained: Who would supply the content?

Alcatel Australia CEO, Andrew Young, said the content for these new services could come from anybody. Film companies, TV companies, ASPs, ISPs, telcos, corner video store, music suppliers or even types of organisations unheard of as yet could create content for the service.

“It’s a complete and open environment,” he said.

Recently in Korea, Young was shown two CDMA handsets, one of which was showing live TV and the other a recording. However, such new technologies would not mean the death of traditional free-to-air television.

“There’s a place for everybody, but perhaps they have to think differently,” he said.

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