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Laying the Underground for High Speed Communication

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RALEIGH — The demand for more phone and Internet service and data transmission is putting a strain on communication networks across the country. Companies of all sizes are answering the call... including here in the Triangle. WRAL OnLine reporter Tom Lawrence explains what big reels of orange and blue plastic pipe will bring.

Drivers have seen the big reels and the warning cones for days. This is the "underground" work for the next generation of telecommunications. Tulsa-basedVyvx Communicationsis boring its way from Houston to Richmond burying plastic conduit for fiber optic cable. It's a 2,000 mile link in the company's new 11,000 mile high speed network.

As these networks go online they provide faster internet access, fewer busy signals, and better voice quality.

Fiber optic cable is hair thin and able to carry huge amounts of digital information at the speed of light. Now the demand is increasing very quickly and there's going to be a lot more of this.

Qwest Communications uses a special train called Railblazer to bury four conduits. Manager Mike Smith explains."We're merging old technology with new technology. We're using the old railroad tracks to put in the new fiber optic system."Brad Kummer ofLucent Technologiessays a new type of fiber will carry even more information.. a trillion bits of data per second."We're gonna be seeing yet probably another thousand fold increase in capacity demands over the next 5 to 10 years."Telephone and cable companies are putting in their own networks. All will initially be used primarily for business, but eventually the benefits of these high speed, high capacity networks will benefit us at home.

Five companies have built nationwide fiber-optic networks. When completed next year, Qwest says it's network could carry all of today's telecommunications traffic on just 4 of its 48 fibers.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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