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Published: Saturday, 2/20/2010

Buckeye tests 1st fiber-optic, video cable line

BLADE STAFF

A Monclova Township couple has become the first customer in the Buckeye CableSystem territory of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan to receive a high-speed fiber-optic video cable line.

It is part of a test to determine whether to do more direct connection of fiber optics to homes instead of using older co-axial cable. The direct fiber-optics link is expected to bring better TV picture definition and faster Internet service.

The fiber-to-the-home signal began transmitting yesterday from the cable company's headquarters on Angola Road in Toledo directly to the home of Tom and Regina Hyldahl in the Lakeside at Fallen Timbers subdivision off of Monclova Road.

Tom Dawson, a Buckeye spokesman, said trials are needed to study the effect of sending a signal to a home without using older copper wire. Buckeye now sends its signal through fiber-optic cable to junction boxes that serve 250 to 500 homes and from that point uses copper-wire coaxial cable to each home.

Fiber-to-the-home "provides greater reliability, greater picture. There is no copper until it gets into the house and there is not much signal degradation," Mr. Dawson said.

Buckeye, which is owned by Block Communications Inc., The Blade's parent company, plans to connect fiber-optic cable to two other homes in the subdivision and then monitor them for an indefinite period.

Mr. Hyldahl said the first day had glitches. Some channels were excellent, others not so much. Some high-definition channels were not working properly, nor were music channels.

But Mr. Hyldahl said he understood it was a test and expects operations to improve.

"The guys said when they were hooking it up, if you have problems, share it with us pretty quickly. They want to know what's happening," he said.

"The quality [of the picture] I think is better."

Fiber-optic cable gives cable operators a greater ability to update their systems and add new services, including higher speeds for Internet usage. Buckeye eventually plans to convert all of its system to fiber-to-the-home, but it needs to test the technology extensively first, Mr. Dawson said.

Buckeye had planned its first test of fiber-to-the-home to be in Perrysburg at 160 homes in the Carrington Woods subdivision off West River Road. To connect the homes it began using a new technology that allowed fiber-optic cable to be threaded quickly inside existing co-axial cable lines.

The company expected the homes to be connected by the end of December. But Mr. Dawson said the threading technology ran into snags threading the buried cable. "Things have kind of come to a halt there," he said.

The company is working with the Florida company that markets the threading technology and efforts are expected to resume in the spring.



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