BellSouth Install
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This page covers the recent installation of high speed Internet access to my house by BellSouth.   This is NOT ADSL service.  It does not ride on the same pair as the telephone line.  It's a new service called IFITL.

Here is the entry point of the wire to my townhouse.  I provided the orange pipe to avoid damage to the cable.   The orange wire going in the hole is CAT 5 cable.   This service is delivered on Cat 5 Ethernet.  There are no devices in the home, only a CAT 5 jack.   The painted pipes on the right are existing electrical devices unrelated to this installation.    Lucky for me, I'm in the end Townhouse, closest to the ONU.  I'm not sure how they would be able to reach the last unit and still make the 100m limit on Cat 5.

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This is the BellSouth installer, Carlos.   He's in front of the Optical Node Unit (ONU).   This was installed a few months ago.    The shovel is leaning on the old telephone terminal.   There are jumpers between this terminal and the ONU.  The old, perfectly good twisted pair cable was cut off at ground level and abandoned. 

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A view from the front of the ONU.  Punch down terminals at the bottom.   The electronics at the top.

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The other side of the ONU is for the digital cable group.   My CAT 5 was brought in on this side.  Notice that there are no cable drops yet. 

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The top left card, which contains the fiber interface, was upgraded since I was the first high speed Internet user in this ONU.   He's connecting a ribbon cable which seems to be the jumper between this card and the protectors below and then to the Ethernet ports on the front..

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That connector being shoved into the storage slot on the left.

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A close up of the cards.   The blue sheathed cable is the fiber.   One fiber for input and output, all telephone lines, cable TV and my Internet service.   The brown cable is coax for the Cable TV feed.


Card inventory:


First card a OIU45 (called the ONU card).   The 45 is older, but better than the newer 48.


The next 3 cards OCUxxx are for the analog phone lines.  


The right most card is the power supply.  This converts the 130 V coming in on the 19 gauge pairs that were run with the fiber into battery, ringing voltage, and the voltages required for the circuits.  130 Volts is really high to be run on low voltage wiring.


Bottom card is some sort of diagnostic card. 

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This shows the bottom card.   The F connector at the very bottom is routed to the cable TV tap on the rear.

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The cover has seals to keep out moisture.  There's no cooling in this inner cabinet.   That's a lot of electronics in an outdoor environment.     I have to wonder about the long term viability of this arrangement.

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Here he is reaching to the protectors in the back.  You can't see them due to the shadows.  Rumor has it that the black protectors that the ONU comes with are wrong.  They should be using the red data protectors.  The terminal block swings forward for access to the protectors.   It would be interesting to check to see if all these protectors connectors and ribbon cables are REALLY CAT 5 compliant.

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Here are some interesting facts from a source who wished to remain anonymous:

IFITL (Integrated Fiber In The Loop)

1) IFITL is as complex, if not more so than DSL

2) The customer interface is 10Mbps, Half-duplex, Ethernet (there was some question as to whether or not it was full or half-duplex)

3) Here is how it's laid out (from customer's PC to ISP)

a) 3COM 10/100 Ethernet card in PC b) CAT-5 patch cord to RJ45 jack c) jack wired to slightly modified "sled" in the NID (again using CAT-5)

(the standard sled only supports one pair, the modified supports the two required by Ethernet) d) The sled is connected to the live service via a 1" pig-tail cable that plugs into an RJ-11 jack

(This is the typical customer demarcation point and is a place to disconnect the inside wiring and test service at the demarc point).

It's interesting to note that the pig-tail appears to be silver-satin type cable (e.g.CAT-nothing) a total violation of CAT-5 wiring specs. The RJ-11 jack is another notable violation...fortunately 10Mbps Ethernet is pretty forgiving.

d) The RJ-11 jack connects to a special CAT-5 lightning protector which is seriously grounded

e) From behind the protector, CAT-5 cable runs to a nearby pedestal which serves 8 homes. The pedestal is 6" wide torpedo-shaped tube sticking out of ground and is about 3.5' high.

(Note: this is important as the pedestal is your most obvious clue that a neighborhood may have IFITL svc.) This contrasts the other 4" pedestals that are only about 2' high (which are just standard POTS service)

f) Inside the pedestal is a patch panel that connects to the ONU (optical network unit). The ONU muxes the Ethernet, POTS phone lines, and digital TV (via coax) coming from the customers homes onto a single mode-fiber (SMF) cable.

g) SMF from all the pedestals in several subdivisions in a 1-2 mile radius route to a CEV (controlled environment vault). CEV's are identifiable by a concrete slab with a large (and thick) steel box and door on top of it. It is only about 3' off the ground (vs. SLCs which are much taller). They have large tell-tale vents that look very much like the dryer exhaust on a typical can also hear fans blowing if you stand near it.

The CEV really blew me away...I had imagined it as a tiny perhaps 5'x5'x5' coffin...wrong! It is HUGE...about 20' underground (you enter down a very scary ladder) then you're in a underground room that is about 30' long by 5' is huge! It is essentially, a mini-central office.

h) The fiber comes into the CEV and terminates into some propriatory IFITIL chassis (OIU)...up to 8 ONU's per chassis. The chassis demux the

POTS and digital TV...the Ethernet exits has an OMU card which is essential a 10Mb Ethernet uplink.

i) All the OMU's (about 50 in this example case) plug into a standard 10/100 Ethernet switch via CAT-5

Here's another mis-conception...once we went to fiber in the pedestal, I was under the impression it was fiber all the way back to the CO...not switches back to a short copper segment inside the CEV.

j) The uplink port on the switch is 100Mb, full-duplex goes into a 100BaseT to 100BaseF Transceiver and out via single-mode fiber again SMF)...

k) In this case the SMF goes to the real central office (Woodstock, GA in this case)

The rest of the path I haven't actually seen with my own eyes, but here's my best guess: ------

l) The SMF from multiple CEVs converge on the CO and connect into 100Mb Ethernet Switches

j) The PPPoE aggregation routers then plug into these switches

(bottom-line, your PPPoE session is initiated between you and the PPPoE router)

k) The PPPoE router is connected to the BellSouth ATM network (the same network that the ADSL DSLAMS are connected from this point the infrastructure is the same as DSL, though the protocols are very different)

l) Any ISP that wants to provide IFITL service must provide DS3 access to the ATM network AND map an L2TP (layer2 tunneling protocol) tunnel to each central office they want to provide service to

L2TP essentially forwards the PPP sessions of each PPPoE user to the ISPs router...this extends the PPP session all the way to the ISP.



Except for portions owned by others, Copyright: Ray Vaughan, 2008