Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2017

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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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 | | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | 45 expertise, and many other resources are limited in the short term, and their supply may not grow quickly enough to meet rising demand. In the long run, however, supply can expand, and new technology can compensate for scarce resources. For example, Render says, engineering is becoming more automated, and the use of drones and LIDAR could reduce the need for construction labor. Another limiting factor for 2017 is the difficulty of financing fiber builds, especially for deployers that don't have much of a track record. Dawson sees private investment in FTTH already beginning to dry up because of Google's pause, confusion about alternative technologies that may or may not materialize, and general economic uncertainty. "It's going to be hard to borrow money for fiber unless you are a telco or a solvent municipality," he comments. CABLE STILL HAS LEGS e resurgence of FTTH five years ago inspired cable companies to get into the "game of gigs" by upgrading their residential network infrastructures and transitioning to new DOCSIS standards that support more bandwidth. Mark Alrutz, senior director of service provider solutions at CommScope, says, "Hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) still has the capability and legs to provide very competitive services while networks are being infused with fiber, even all the way to FTTH." In addition to boosting wired broadband speeds, he adds, cable companies are trying to improve customer experiences and taking responsibility for making Wi-Fi operate smoothly in homes and public spaces. In 2017, Alrutz says, cable companies will continue to focus on improving their residential service. In some cases, this will involve building fiber all the way to homes. (Interestingly, FTTH can be less expensive than HFC in rural areas, so we may see more instances of rural cable companies building fiber.) For the most part, however, despite the buzz around FTTH, cable companies will continue to leverage their HFC networks and transition to DOCSIS 3.1. FTTH AND WIRELESS INTEGRATION Venturing a long-term prediction in addition to his 2017 forecast, Render says that, short of a physics breakthrough (neutrino power, anyone?), "I don't see anything for the next 50 years to overtake fiber." e ongoing wireless revolution will just make fiber more necessary than ever, he says. In fact, returning to 2017, he expects to see the deployment of FTTH and advanced wireless networks become closely integrated: "To make advanced wireless work, you have to run fiber down every street and put an antenna on every third light pole, so it makes sense to do it in conjunction with FTTH. … e very best way would be to build them at the same time to make the most efficient use of all resources; second best would be to design as much as possible for both kinds of networks." Kurt Raaflaub, head of strategic solutions marketing at ADTR AN, elaborates on the technical details behind wired and wireless integration: "NG-PON2 [the most advanced fiber

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