In the News

Published June 1, 2006

CLECs Lay More Fiber

Competitive carriers have been expanding to metropolitan and regional fiber networks, validating predictions that the end of unbundled network elements-platform (UNE-P) rules would spur more investment and competition, not less.

In April, managed hosting and data center provider Net2EZ announced that, with the help of network provider AboveNet, it had doubled the capacity of its Los Angeles metro fiber ring to 20 gigabits per second (Gb/s) and extended it to reach El Segundo, California, some 20 miles away, according to a report in Telephony magazine.

In January, Time Warner Telecom began adding an 86-mile fiber loop to its 1,100-mile regional network in North Carolina. Construction should be complete in July, the report said.

TelCove has expanded its Florida fiber network to 2,700 route miles, doubling the number of markets it serves in that state to 14.

In March, XO Communications announced it would double the capacity of its 18,000-route-mile long-haul network.

“The loss of [UNE-P] means that telecom players need local access alternatives to the Bells,” Judy Reed Smith, chief executive officer of research analysis firm Atlantic-ACM, told Telephony. “In addition to UNE-P replacement, the [voice-over-IP] substitution for the [public switched telephone network] and other drivers of data for every business are driving those fiber investments in many cities.”

GE, EarthLink Invest $130M in BPL

Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) continues to attract attention and investment as General Electric and EarthLink led a $130 million round of financing for Current Communications Group, which is using power lines to deliver broadband service in Cincinnati.

The deal reflects growing interest in BPL as a fourth competitive broadband platform to DSL, cable modems, and wireless.

The company also is gearing up to launch service in north Texas. GE and EarthLink join Google, TXU, and Goldman Sachs as key stakeholders in the venture. EarthLink, which has been exploring new avenues to reach customers, has been active in municipal wireless. It says it will be a retail service provider for Current in Texas, where Current will use TXU facilities. The system is the largest BPL deployment announced to date. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year. (See “In the News,” IT&T News, February 2006.)

CBS Launches Web Programming

CBS Corp. has introduced a Web-based, ad-supported channel that will offer original video content.

The decision points to the further blurring of the way video is delivered to users. While ABC, NBC, and Time Warner have been making some of their popular TV programs available for post-broadcast download, CBS’s Innertube site is the first to offer original network-branded entertainment via the Web. Programs vary in length from three to 55 minutes. Most are youth-oriented and, in CBS’s terms, “edgier” than standard broadcast content. Some material–such as Beyond Survivor, a behind-the-scenes look at the hit series Survivor–ties to programming on the CBS TV network.

Pending affiliate approval, Innertube will stream network shows once they air in their usual timeslot. CBS also plans to make a library of 100,000 hours of programming available on the site, some of it on a pay-per-view basis.

Worldwide Internet Censorship Up

Censorship of the Internet has been growing steadily as more repressive governments crack down on dissident Web sites, blogs and other Web-based reporting, often with the help of U.S.-based companies.

In its 2006 annual report on worldwide press freedom, Reporters Without Borders said at least 14 countries are censoring the Internet within their borders, up from three in 2003.

The report examines the increasing harassment and jailings of bloggers in China and notes repression has increased in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia.

“Censorship of the Web is also growing and is now done on every continent,” writes Julien Pain, head of Reporters Without Frontiers’ Internet Freedom desk.

The report criticizes a number of U.S. companies, including Yahoo, Cisco Systems, and Secure Computing, for providing regimes in China, Burma, and Tunisia with technology to regulate Internet access and identify dissident writers and editors. “China is now passing on its cyber-spying skills to other enemies of the Internet, including Zimbabwe, Cuba, and most recently Belarus,” writes Pain. “These countries will probably no longer need Western help for such spying in a few years time.”

The 2006 Annual Press Freedom Report can be downloaded at

Steven Titch ([email protected]) is senior fellow for IT and telecom policy at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of IT&T News.