Lucent's 400Gbs Fiber and ADSL = High-Speed Downloads

Build a road and traffic will flow.

Lucent Technologies recently announced that it has developed a technique to transmit 400 Gigabits of data per second over one fiberoptic strand. Lucent's technology, called dense wavelength division multiplexing, divides a strand into multiple channels of light. Some fibers may be split into as many as 80 channels, according to Gerald Butlers, president of Lucent's optical networking division. With eight fibers, data can be transmitted at 3.2 trillion bits per second. The Wall Street Journal described this as "the equivalent of 90,000 encyclopedia volumes in one second." AT&T endorsed Lucent's technology and plans to use it to double the capacity of its fiberoptic network.

The last week of January was also characterized by announcements from several large regional telephone companies that they were moving quickly to provide high-speed ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line) services. Microsoft, Compaq, Intel, et al, have endorsed ADSL, which purports to pump high-speed data over existing networks of copper wire.

By reducing the complexity of the onsite installation and eliminating the need for new wiring at the user's home, Universal ADSL should make it possible to more cost-effectively increase bandwidth for the consumer to up to 25 times the speed of the current highest-speed analog modem technology. With the ability to deliver "always-on'' Internet access at higher speeds, ADSL may dramatically improve consumers' Internet experience, allowing content developers to enhance their web sites with more natural media-rich technologies, such as CD-quality audio and high-quality video. Universal ADSL will also be compatible with and complementary to current higher-speed (full-rate ADSL) deployments by telecommunications companies.

In addition, Bell Atlantic applied to the Federal Communications Commission for permission to build an "Internet Backbone" of high-speed networks throughout its territory, which covers the Northeastern United States. Where one of the Baby Bells goes, the others quickly follow; high-speed service may be available in most parts of North America within three years.

All of this means that music and movie fans may be closer than they realize to being able to plug in to the universal content library. On January 19, a new music service---music.com---was unveiled at MIDEM, the international music trade show in Cannes, France. The San Francisco-based startup supplies worldwide concert and album information, with links to music halls, radio stations, music schools, and record labels.

Music.com joins NK2, JamTV, and the Rolling Stone Network in a rapidly growing segment of the Internet. The upstart company---one partner is Herbie Herbert, former manager of the Steve Miller Band, who proudly describes himself as "rebellion du jour from The Peoples' Republic of Berkeley"---will offer downloads directly to customers' hard drives or recordable CDs for "dimes per disc," bypassing what Herbert calls the "elitist crap" of record companies and their distributors. Real-time plug-ins and downloads are on their way. The countdown to the new millennium has begun.

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