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SureWest Broadband Delivers Data, Voice, and Video over a Single Fiber to the Home

Cisco Metro Ethernet Switching Enables Cost-Effective Network Expansion

October 13, 2003

By Stacy Williams, News@Cisco

SureWest Broadband
Customer Story At A Glance

  • SureWest Broadband, a subsidiary of SureWest Communications, needed to scale its service delivery network cost-effectively to meet escalating customer demand for bundled voice, video, and high-speed Internet services.
  • A Cisco solution based on key components of the Cisco metro Ethernet switching portfolio is enabling SureWest to expand cost-effectively while delivering the same customer experience over a greatly simplified network design.
  • Press Release:
    Cisco Helps Service Providers Reduce Total Cost of Ownership for Fiber-based Metro Ethernet Access Networks with Standards-based Single Fiber Line Card

    Watch the Video:
    SureWest Brings Broadband Home

    Delivering the "triple play" of services—video, voice, and high-speed data—accessible by customers over a single network, has long been the dream of service providers. For SureWest Broadband and its residential and business customers in Sacramento, California, this dream became a reality in July 2002.

    Since introducing the triple play to Sacramento businesses and homes, SureWest has seen increased demand. Customers have options such as high-speed Internet, digital TV, video on demand, voice and pay per view, all on one bill with one point of customer contact, and they are asking SureWest when these services will be available in their neighborhoods. With over 9,000 subscribers, SureWest is the largest active fiber-to-the-home network in the US, with a 20 percent adoption rate—twice the national average.

    To capitalize on escalating demand, SureWest established an expansion plan for new areas in and around Sacramento, with a commitment to local franchising agencies to pass 150,000 homes by 2006. There was only one holdup: SureWest was delivering the triple play using a complex and difficult to scale fiber-coax network to customers' homes.

    By using a Cisco solution based on key components of the Cisco metro Ethernet switching portfolio, including the new Cisco Catalyst 4500 Series 48-port 100 BASE-BX10-D Bi-Directional Fast Ethernet line card, SureWest is consolidating from a blended fiber-coax network onto a single fiber network to deliver digital television, high-speed Internet and IP Telephony.

    The new Catalyst 4500 Series 100BASE-BX10-D Bi-Directional Fast Ethernet interface is based on IEEE 802.3ah standard compatible technology that enables a full duplex fast Ethernet connection over a single strand of fiber. This new interface helps SureWest expand cost-effectively while delivering the same favorable customer experience over a greatly simplified network design.

    "When you consider the space and splicing savings of a single-fiber solution, it becomes obvious why we are moving to a single network," says Bill DeMuth, SureWest vice president and chief technology officer.

    SureWest evaluated numerous suppliers of equipment that would deliver data, voice and video services over a single network and narrowed its search to one vendor: Cisco Systems. Using the Cisco Catalyst 6500 line card in the core, and a Cisco Catalyst 4500 line card at the edge to serve groups of residences, Cisco is providing SureWest with the advanced technology to bring bundled services to its customer base over a single network.

    The Cisco solution provided SureWest with a high degree of flexibility in building its service delivery network. Many fiber-to-the-home solutions are proprietary, forcing operators to purchase all their network components from a single vendor. Because they are open and standards-based, the Cisco components allow SureWest to combine best-of-breed solutions into a cost-effective, forward-looking network.

    "With Cisco, we could select from a variety of customer premise vendors for media converters and Internet gateways," says DeMuth. "We didn't have to rely on one specific vendor."

    The new infrastructure will be far simpler when compared with the current blended network. Instead of a hybrid fiber/coax network with Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and substantial complexity, SureWest will have a single fiber to the home.

    SureWest will also be able to scale the new service delivery network cost-effectively and with minimal disruption to businesses and neighborhoods. Once fiber is laid, SureWest can upgrade its network from Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet, without having to dig up the fiber.

    With its comprehensive solution offerings, Cisco was in excellent position to enable SureWest to build a foundation for the delivery of advanced video, data and voice services. "It was critical that SureWest select a company that provides solutions that are reliable, scalable, secure and affordable," says DeMuth. "Cisco is that company. The single fiber solution from Cisco meets our business needs."

    The benefits to SureWest are clear. The company has created a distinct competitive advantage in terms of customer loyalty and is reducing costs by 10 to 20 percent due to the low cost-of-ownership of the Cisco components. "Over 50 percent of subscribers take the triple play package and 80 percent take two of three services," says DeMuth. "Most important, our churn rate is less than two percent."

    Today, SureWest customers can enjoy more than 260 channels of digital TV, 10 Megabit symmetrical Internet, pay per view and more. With 100 Megabits of bandwidth, SureWest will be able to augment its offerings with wide variety of emerging, bandwidth-hungry services such as HDTV and interactive gaming in the future. The upshot is that SureWest is poised for continued success and its customers can anticipate exciting new bundled service offerings to come.

    Stacy Williams is a freelance journalist based in Dutch John, UT.

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