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Comcast, Level 3 To Beef Up National Fiber Infrastructure

Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable and broadband provider, announced Tuesday that it is extending its national fiber infrastructure through an agreement with Level 3 Communications, even as large telephony companies surround Comcast's existing networks with their own fiber networks.

Comcast said the initial cost of the network will be $100 million, which includes the roll out of expanded fiber capacity as well as routing and optical gear. Covering more than 19,000 miles, the new build out will cover 95 percent of Comcast's existing national footprint.

In a statement, Comcast executive vice president and chief technology officer David Fellows said: 'This agreement with Level 3 will further enhance our ability to deliver new and innovative services, such as video-on-demand, high-definition television, digital-video recorders, high-speed Internet access, and advanced voice services."

It is the "advanced voice services" that will catch the eye of the major, former regional Bell operating companies--BellSouth Corp., SBC Communications, and Verizon Communications. All three are aggressively rolling out fiber networks in their respective territories and planning to compete with cable providers for video and other broadband offerings. Comcast and other cable firms have begun to offer telephony features as the two competing universes--cable and telephony--begin to collide in the marketplace.

Comcast's improved backbone features multiple wavelengths--each with 40 gigabytes per second capacity, offering a potential capacity of nearly 3 terabits per second. Comcast said the long-term agreement will provide enhanced fiber technology that can be upgraded in future years.

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