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Verizon Weaves Fiber-to-Home Plan

Verizon's plan to eliminate last-mile slowdowns advanced another step Monday as the regional telecom announced additional vendors for its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) initiative.

ADC, Corning Cable Systems, Preformed Line Products and Tyco Electronics will provide fiber-optic cabling and other outside plant equipment for Verizon.

"These vendors, in addition to those we announced in November, will supply the overwhelming majority of the equipment (for FTTP)," Verizon spokesman Mark Marchand told internetnews.com.

Last month, Verizon tapped Advanced Fibre Communications, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave, Pirelli Communications Cables and Systems North America and Fiber Optic Network Solutions.

Although the New York company is level-funding its capital expense budget, it is shifting dollars away from copper network work to fiber-optics.

Marchand declined to say how much the contracts are worth or Verizon's overall budget for FTTP. The company's aggressive rollout of the new technology comes as service providers look for an edge -- in both speed and features -- against national telecoms and cable companies.

Other Baby Bells, including BellSouth and SBC are also working on FTTP projects. Earlier this year, the three companies adopted technical standards and issued a joint request for proposals to equipment suppliers.

With FTTP, fiber-optic lines are used instead of copper wires to connect a home or business directly to Verizon's network, allowing the company to provide new high-speed, high-capacity data products, in addition to voice communications and video applications.

The technology can transfer data at speeds up to 622 megabits per second to the user and 155 megabits per second to the network -- far faster than cable modems or today's DSL, Verizon said.

In the first half of 2004, Verizon expects to begin tests in at least two communities. By the end of the year, the company expects to deploy the new technology in over 100 central offices across nine states.

That will make the service available to about 1 million homes. Marchand said that number could double in 2005. Pricing and applications have not been set.

At the same time Verizon is making a technological push, it is also keeping a close eye on regulators. The company has asked for clarification of Federal Communications Commission's position on FTTP technology.

The most critical issue is whether the regional phone companies have to open up their central offices and lines to competitors.