Yesterday at the OFC/NFOEC conference, Corning (NYSE:GLW, news, filings) unveiled the next generation of its LEAF non-zero dispersion shifted fiber. The new version is optimized for longhaul applications, with an attenuation specification at $0.19db/km at 1550nm. That corresponds to a 3dB per 100km over other NZ-DSF products, and means this new generation will be able to achieve longer transmission distances. It will also make it easier to upgrade to 40Gbps and of course 100Gbps technologies.
Is this new fiber sufficient to change the economics of the terrestrial longhaul business noticeably? There hasn't been that much focus on intercity fiber improvements in some time, most of the new fiber put into the ground is in the metro or undersea. But in 2010 we did see two major terrestrial longhaul deployments between New York and Chicago: Spread Networks and Allied Fiber. Allied Fiber may already be using this stuff, if not in that build then in phase 2 which links the DC area to Atlanta and Miami. And then there are the networks with extra conduit that they can use for this. Level 3 has tons of this, Qwest has some as well, and AT&T might from the Velocita build. If in fact this fiber is cheaper enough to operate, these carriers might have an advantage since they can deploy it relatively cheaply.
On the other hand, it might not be enough to change the economics appreciably. Lots of older fiber is already in use in competition with newer fiber, and the world hasn't ended yet. Any opinions out there? Is Corning's new fiber the cat's meow?
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