Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sasktel Adopts ADSL-2+ Strategy

Sasktel is the incumbent carrier in Saskatchewan, Canada. It has been offering its Max IPTV service since September 2002, which makes it one of the real pioneers. It is currently upgrading its network to provide 28 Mbps to each home using two pairs per home and ADSL-2+. It supports up to four TVs in each home including one HD stream along with a 5 Mbps data service.

Sasktel's IPTV Vendors include:
  • Alcatel-Lucent DSLAMs
  • Tandberg video headend
  • Harmonic video headend
  • Alcatel middleware
  • Kasenna video on demand servers
  • Widevine content protection/digital rights management
  • Pace set-top boxes
  • Motorola set-top boxes
SaskTel plans to invest $118 million U.S. in 2007 and $267 million U.S. over the next five years to install remote systems to bring its home within range of its ADSL-2+ service by reducing the maximum loop length from 2.5 km. to 900 m.

Sasktel had 51 thousand subscribers at the end of 2006 out of 225 thousand homes passed. This is 23 percent penetration in a market with strong competition from Shaw Cable.

Sasktel has enjoyed steady progress with its IPTV offering. This upgrade will keep it competitive by permitting it to support HD and more TVs in the home. It is also interesting that Sasktel chose ADSL-2+ technology with two lines per subscriber. This provides longer loop lengths and is probably significantly less costly than VDSL because fewer remotes are required and because there is probably not that much difference in cost between two ADSL-2+ interfaces and one VDSL interface.


Ohad said...

Hi Bob

So what you are basically saying that it's more cost effective to bond 2 ADSL2+ lines than to deploy VDSL2 using shorter loops?
Why won't people like DT nad Swisscom do it then?


Bob Larribeau said...


You are holding my feet to the fire. I believe that ADSL-2+ is chepaer in most cases because it does not require remotes (in Europe and Asia) and because it is a mature technology.

I think that telcos are selecting VDSL because they expect its performance to improve and its costs to drop over time. Neither will happen with ASDL-2+.

My bias is to deploy fiber. Most telcos agree I think, but are concerned about the amount of time that this will take. They are also finding that the financial community will not support the long term payout of fiber, so they cannot get the financing they need to do it.

This is too bad. To me, deploying fiber is like putting gold in the ground. You can continue to mine it for a long time.

Ohad said...


The way I see it there are several angles the telcos are looking at it :

1)Economic - Perhaps telcos see VDSL as the first stage and are expecting a sharp fall in the cost of fiber deployments in several years. Then they can gradually migrate to pure fiber. However, in developed countries where labor cost is pretty high, the cost of actually installing the fiber to each subscriber should remain relatively high.
2)Timing - they must have a near term solution to fight the MSOs and alternative carriers. For now, few dozens of Mbps is enough for the average user (ex. japan and korea). In several years time, they'll have to decide whether to deploy pure fiber or find a way to increase bandwidth without deploying more fiber.
what's your take on Dynamic Spectrum Management?
3)In shorter loops, VDSL is quite satisfactory, wouldn't you say? half of NTT's FTTH subs are actually connected via FTTB. If it provides them with a symmetric 100Mbps connection, it looks like a good enough option.
could you elaborate on the disadvantages of FTTB compared with FTTH ?


Bob Larribeau said...


You need to think about AT&T and Verizon. They face similar market conditions but AT&T chose VDSL and Verizon chose fiber. AT&T thought it was more clever choosing an approach that would be faster and cheaper to deploy. The early returns are that Verizon is way ahead in terms of deployment and number of subscribers. (See previous AT&T and Verizon posts for the numbers.)

I see FTTB and FTTH as two forms of the same technology. FTTB is for MTUs and FTTH is for single family dwellings. KDDI in Japan, for example, is blending both into a single service portfolio.

Ohad said...

According to my understanding , FTTB must also include a VDSL line from the basement to the apartment. Is there another way to deploy FTTB (without VDSL )?

Ohad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Larribeau said...

VDSL is one way of distributing within a building. It is convenient because it can use ordinary telphone wiring. Buildings with Cat 5 can use Fast Ethernet. Some buildings even use fiber particularly GigE inside a building.

VDSL is the most common, but a lot of newer buildings use Fast Ethernet. GigE is pretty rare.