Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 2014

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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6 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MARCH/APRIL 2014 BANDWIDTH HAWK I t's no secret that BroadBand Communities has pushed fber to the home for the past decade and will continue to do so. FTTH has been by far the most reliable way to get end-user customers the upstream and downstream bandwidth they need to expand their businesses, expand their entertainment options and use thousands of existing applications. Ten there are the millions of new applications on the horizon. In the past decade, there has always been one application that accounts for about a third of bandwidth demand. But the application changes! First BitTorrent held the title, then YouTube and now Netfix. Backhaul for cellular communications poaching on users' Wi-Fi connections seems likely to be the villain in a few years. Educational and medical applications are also exploding, as is machine-to-machine communications by automated electric grids, heating systems, electric cars, lighting fxtures ... and on and on. Unfortunately, in the past decade many carriers have continued to fght last year's wars. Te FCC, trying to regulate quickly, seems to have outstripped its legal authority to do so, at least in some cases. Technology is coming to the rescue. In the face of recession-produced capital shortages, vendors have evolved numerous clever and credible upgrade paths. Can't aford FTTH everywhere? In-the-street ONTs, DOCSIS 3.0 with node splitting, VDSL with vectoring and bonding, and versatile software that allows even small telcos to manage complex systems can combine to bring fber within 100 meters of most single-family homes or apartments. COPPER HAS A TEMPORARY BUT IMPORTANT ROLE A community, an incumbent operator, an overbuilder or all of them working together can build out fber where the business case works and save difcult spots for touch-up in a few years. Tis approach provides enough bandwidth to everyone for today's needs at an afordable capital cost. How? It starts with a good regulatory framework and an understanding that investment gets everyone more revenue and more job-creating infrastructure than does milking outmoded systems or blocking progress. Te end point is still FTTH because the ever-expanding need for reliable bandwidth makes FTTH desirable and inevitable. However, regulatory fexibility and stakeholder vision will get more fber built to more people in a shorter time than will digging into adversarial positions. Tis approach may also obviate the need for net neutrality rules. If carriers have the bandwidth, why should they ration it? If carriers can share modern infrastructure, why should incumbents that can't aford to upgrade their own infrastructure have an incentive to block others from building a communitywide gigabit system? Why should the communications industry see the need to consolidate when the electric utilities have already proftably separated power transmission from power generation? BroadBand Communities already sees this strategy playing out in diferent ways, under diferent business cases and geographies across the country. At the Summit in Austin, April 7–10, attendees will learn about that city's good luck close-up. Because Google can build gigabit FTTH citywide, Austin can allow two other carriers, one small and one huge, to cherry-pick by bringing gigabit fber mainly to multiple- dwelling-unit buildings. Attendees will also hear about Mississippi carrier C Spire Fiber, which has already identifed nine cities for its initial FTTH build, and about North Carolina, which has the best fber service to educational institutions. Summit attendees will also see and test great new planning tools that can map the best technology to a build in minutes and help pave the way to fber. New carrier technologies are already here or soon will be (g.fast and DOCSIS 3.1, for instance). New thinking and new regulatory frameworks are still needed. Providers must be willing to invest for future profts. Te FCC must fund and expand upon the rural gigabit pilot program it recently announced (see p. 76). States must repeal short-sighted, job-killing restrictions that seek to protect incumbents at the expense of community interests. Gigabit service is the destination. Te routes will vary. But choose the right road for your community, and everyone arrives faster. Te fastest net is the most neutral net. v Contact the Bandwidth Hawk at steve@bbcmag.com. The Road to a Seamless Internet To get gigabit service to everyone as soon as possible, FTTH builders, investors and regulators need to map a plan to serve as many customers as possible with as many technologies as needed. By Steven S. Ross / Broadband Communities BBC_Mar14.indd 6 3/14/14 2:45 PM

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