LAS VEGAS–If you’re lucky, a local Internet service provider may have started offering a residential fiber-optic service in the past year (such as Verizon’s FiOS service). And fiber to the home is certain to grow. With the increasing popularity of bandwidth-intensive applications such as streaming video, voice over IP, and IP-based television, consumers will be clamoring for the enormous data capacity fiber can provide.
But why stop there? With potentially gigabits per second of bandwidth coming into the home–and massive amounts of data to move around inside the home, between PCs, network-attached storage devices, media receivers, and more–why not finish the job and run fiber optic cables to every room in the house?
One problem is the current difficulty and expense of terminating fiber optic connections, a process that is currently time-consuming, requires expensive equipment, and demands well-trained personnel. Startup telecommunications company Tenvera is addressing that problem with a system for distributing and easily terminating fiber connections throughout the home.
Today at CES 2007, Tenvera showed elements of their system, which they say enables contractors to outfit every room in a new house with fiber connections for a total cost of about $1,000.
“It doesn’t make sense to invest in fiber to the home without finishing the job and running fiber throughout the house,” said Tenvera CEO Brent J. Ware in a press conference today.
The Tenvera system consists of pre-terminated spools of fiber, in lengths ranging from 25 meters to 200 meters, which can be blown through a 5mm flexible plastic tubing that Tenvera calls “micro duct.” Rather than cutting the fiber to length, the spools are simply stacked in an optical distribution unit, with any excess fiber remaining coiled on the spool. A connector near the hub of each spool connects to the fiber network of the provisioning ISP.
On the far end, in each room of the house, a patent-pending ferrule (a small metal plug) connects to terminating modules designed by Tenvera. These modules, which are small enough to fit into a standard-sized electrical gang box (the metal box behind electric outlets), convert the fiber signal into more common consumer electronics connections, such as coaxial cable, component video, Ethernet, and–soon–HDMI. A direct fiber jack is also possible, for future consumer electronics products that accept fiber connections. The modules are interchangeable, so consumers can convert a coax connection to an Ethernet port simply by plugging in a different Tenvera module.
Although few homes currently have fiber-to-the-home connections, nearly 6 million U.S. houses are within easy reach of a fiber data pipeline, Tenvera officials say, and that number is growing, as telecommunications companies build out their fiber networks. The next step, according to Tenvera, is bringing fiber’s nearly limitless bandwidth capacity into the home.
“Unless we complete the network by bringing fiber throughout the home, the demand for bandwidth will never be satisfied,” said Ware.
Tenvera’s system is available now, and the company says it is currently being considered by numerous residential and commercial building companies. Builders in Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, Florida, and the Bahamas are currently installing Tenvera’s products in high-end homes starting this month.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story misspelled Ware’s name.
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