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BellSouth To Test Fiber Optic Internet Access

Atlanta will be the test market for a new Internet access option to be tested this fall by BellSouth.

The new service is an effort to overcome the distance limitations of Digital Subscriber Line and will give phone companies another way to battle cable companies' Internet offerings.

Called passive optical network (PON), it uses high-capacity, optical fiber to transmit voice, data and video. It uses the asynchronous transfer mode protocol and requires no power.

Theoretically, the company said, the service offers a connection speed of up to 100 megabits per second, faster than current DSL and cable modem transmissions. BellSouth's DSL offering, FastAccess, transmits at speeds of up to 1.5 megabits per second, and cable Internet services transmits at approximately 10-40 megabits per second.

BellSouth plans to install the new fiber optic system to connect its switching offices to approximately 400 Atlanta customer homes. Dave Kettler, executive director for BellSouth Science and Technology, said using fiber optics to connect to the Internet is a logical step for the company, which already provides telephone connections via the wires.

"BellSouth's latest step provides the final link for an all-fiber connection from our switch all the way to the home, instead of terminating fiber at the curb," he said. "Fiber to the home is BellSouth's ultimate platform for satisfying our customers' voracious appetite for bandwidth, an appetite that is growing at exponential rates."

Pricing for the upcoming service was not disclosed, but company officials said that within two years they expect costs to be as low as standard phone offerings.



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