Verizon Looks to Lasers to Replace Coaxial

WASHINGTON—Verizon has filed a patent to develop laser technology to replace the coaxial cable it currently uses to connect homes to its FiOS fiber-to-the-home, high-speed broadband and TV service.

Verizon launched FiOS in 2005 and although the company has indicated that it will stop future buildouts of the service, it aims to improve the bandwidth limitations via the use of laser transmitters to better handle high definition video, for example in its existing subscriber homes. Currently the telco uses its own coaxial cable in new homes and has built optical network terminals for older homes with existing connecting coaxial cable (known as “in premises”). In its application, Verizon laid out the problems with its current setup.

Using coaxial cable “has drawbacks, such as that a video device must be close to a cable outlet and that it may be difficult, inconvenient, and expensive to add an outlet,” Verizon said in its patent application, which was filed in March. “Additionally, existing wireless systems may lack sufficient bandwidth for multiple video data streams, and higher bandwidth wireless systems may be overly susceptible to interference from other wireless devices, such as cellular telephones.”

The company warned that “in-premises wireless networks may now be a bottleneck with regard to broadband services. Particularly, high definition video data may be especially taxing to an in-premises network due to the broad bandwidth required for the transmission of such video data.”

To get around this bottleneck, Verizon proposes use laser beam projectors to send data to multiple rooms throughout the household.

“Rather than being optically aligned to a particular receiver, the laser beam projector may instead direct a modulated laser beam at a surface of a structure, such as a tabletop, a wall, a ceiling, or a floor,” the company said. “A receiver may use telescope optics to focus on the surface at a location substantially where the modulated laser beam may be directed. Such an approach has the advantages of avoiding long cable runs, providing for a broadband connection with substantial bandwidth, having freedom from electromagnetic interference, and having an ability to be set up without maintaining a precise transmitter-to-receiver optical alignment.

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.