Bell Canada extends DSL footprint with Lucent technology

With new technology from Lucent Technologies, Bell Canada announced on Monday plans to expand its deployment of Sympatico High Speed Internet service to customers currently outside of its Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) footprint in Quebec and Ontario, bringing broadband service to more of its customers.

“We’ve been frustrated by the fact that there are limits to the technology that’s in production,” said Eugene Roman, group president, Bell Canada systems and technology.

Limits to the current technology means that Bell serves about 78 per cent of the addressed DSL market for homes and businesses within its footprint and cannot reach the remaining businesses or homes. The solution being offered by Lucent – called the Stinger Compact Remote – opens the DSL door to a larger percentage of customers in Ontario and Quebec who would like to have the service but live or work outside the boundaries, Roman explained.

The Stinger Compact Remote brings IP-based voice, data and video services through regular phone lines. A Stinger is a high-density electronic device that is placed within an environmentally insulated box or field cabinet.

“It doesn’t need special cooling or special heating,” Roman said. “You can put it outside and it can sit in the sun and it can sit in the cold temperatures of Canada because it has all sorts of thermal protection and also has high density in terms of electronics.”

This thermal box is then bolted to a pre-existing Bell box. This means that Bell doesn’t have to buy new real estate to house the boxes, but instead can using its own infrastructure, he explained.

Fibre gets really close to your home, Roman said. From there, the copper lines that already go into homes feed the fibre.

“This is the first time we’ve actually put electronics into the field and what this does is this allows us to provide higher speeds and improves service for our customers,” Roman added.

The devices will be also be powered remotely, so in case of blackouts and power failures, the services will continue to function.

One box will serve about 144 customers and will take DSL service to within an average 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet of a house.

Roman said he wasn’t prepared to comment on the exact number of customers that would be able to access the Stinger boxes, but said it was a significant opportunity for Bell to be able to extend service to areas that don’t have DSL service today.

There are over one million DSL customers currently using Bell. From a wire line perspective there are over seven million customers.

“If one in seven customers [has DSL], it gives you a good idea there is potential for customers to acquire this service,” Roman said.

Until this technology was developed, customers outside the reach of Bell’s existing footprint did not have access to DSL.

If the Stringer boxes are placed throughout the network, Roman said the service would have the potential to reach all of Bell’s customers.

“But clearly that’s a question of how much capital do we have. Over time, you’ll see more and more of this type of technology deployed in the field and this will, in the urban areas, address a large space in terms of our footprint.”

Both Bell and Lucent are touting the initiative as the first worldwide deployment of innovative DSL technologies. Before deciding to partner with Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent, Roman said Bell had been working with a number of companies over the past six to nine months, looking for a way to evolve network access technology.

Bell Canada said it plans to start implementing the technology onto its network in 2004. The company can be found on the Web at Lucent is online at