One of the effects of the rapid pace of innovation is that history is also created faster than in centuries past. In trying to keep up with the present, it is easy to forget or downplay the relatively recent past. These thoughts were going through the back of my mind in a recent interview with a pioneer in the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) space, William Strickler.
In the mid-1980s, Strickler orchestrated, on behalf of a Orlando, FL-area developer and with Southern Bell, the world’s first FTTH deployment. In one sense, this was a proof-of-concept to test the outer reaches of technology at that time:
- Channels were digitally encoded and sent via single mode fiber to CEV (Controlled Environmental Vault).
- From the CEV, it was a point-to-point network to each house. Channel switching occurred in the CEV.
- There was a multimode drop from the splice case to the home with two fibers; each fiber transported one channel.
- The ONI (Optical Network Interface) converted the 45 Mb/s signal to channel 3 for transmission within the home (two coax cables).
- Channel selection was via a special set-top box that sent an upstream control signal via a copper drop to the switching equipment in the CEV.
- POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) was via a copper drop.
What made this more than a technology trial, however, is that there were paying subscribers who received services for more than a decade. As the technology evolved, so did the network, moving from Fiber to the Home to a Fiber to the Curb architecture.
Still, as Strickler points out, the network did a great job of reliably serving the customer needs, while gaining the operational efficiencies of fiber. Strickler and team took advantage of their two -way platform, by developing applications in local content and power meter reading that foreshadowed today’s broadband world.
As he alludes to in the above video, Strickler has a treasure trove of historical tidbits from this development and he was kind enough to allow us to include these in the above video to tell his story.