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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44 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 INDUSTRY ANALYSIS Broadband Forecasts for 2017 What's ahead for the broadband industry in 2017? Growth – and preparation for more growth. By Masha Zager / Broadband Communities R apid growth and change have marked the broadband industry for several years, and 2017 will be no exception. New technology, rising demand and heightened service expectations continue to drive development. Here are the details, according to industry leaders and analysts. FTTH DEPLOYMENT: GROWTH WITH OR WITHOUT GOOGLE FIBER Fiber-to-the-home deployment, which slowed between 2008 and 2011, has risen continually since that year. "We'll continue to see growth again this year, from all indications," says Michael Render, president of the market research firm RVA LLC. "And it's not just from big providers. Obviously, AT&T is doing a lot, but there's a lot more mass from smaller providers, mostly Tier 2s and Tier 3s." Even though Google Fiber hit the pause button on fiber deployment and thus discouraged some potential new entrants to the FTTH market, Render says, "I don't see that slowing the growth rate." Not all new entrants have been discouraged, Render adds. Telcos, new competitive providers, municipalities – a wide range of companies are getting ready to deploy fiber to the home. Like earlier deployers, most of these organizations already have some experience in communications (for example, as wireless providers). In rural areas, smart electric grids, which require bandwidth and reliability, are being built out with fiber, and this will drive additional fiber-to-the-home deployments by electric co-ops, among others. Despite the fact that low population density in rural areas makes deployment costs high, Render says, "I don't think everyone has fully figured out that take rates are very high in rural areas." Increasing awareness of rural demand for bandwidth will illuminate real opportunities for rural FTTH deployers, he says. Many rural areas are about to lose whatever fixed broadband they have, predicts Doug Dawson, president of CCG Consulting. He believes that, in 2017, "Verizon and AT&T are going to leap on the opportunity of a weakened FCC and will be tearing down rural copper as fast as they can. … Both companies will offer much more expensive wireless options to replace the copper." at will only open more opportunities in rural areas for those who can build fiber networks to meet the growing bandwidth demand. LIMITS TO GROWTH Still, not every company that wants to deploy fiber broadband will be able to do so. Render points out that resource constraints may put the brakes on deployment. Fiber optic cable, directional drills, engineering and construction Michael Render: Opportunities for FTTH in rural areas remain unexploited because "I don't think everyone has fully figured out that take rates there are very high."