Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 2018

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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INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 6 4 | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 Will Cable Companies Become Fiber Companies? The evolution of technology is enabling cable companies to transition gradually to all- fiber networks. By Masha Zager / Broadband Communities J ust 10 years ago, this magazine reported on the first new technology that promised to allow cable companies to deliver all-fiber services without disrupting their existing hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) networks. A few months later, I wrote an article that began, "2008 may become known as cable's Year of Fiber." (Spoiler alert: It didn't.) Every few years since then, we've reported on cable companies' love-hate relationship with FTTH, and with each report, that relationship becomes more complex. Cable companies have been much slower to transition to all-fiber networks than telcos – largely because their existing infrastructure is more successful at meeting growing bandwidth demands – yet any discussion of cable's long-term future includes some variant of the sentence, "Everyone agrees that FTTH is the endgame." On the one hand, virtually all cable companies have deployed some residential fiber. (ey've also been quite aggressive in deploying fiber to the enterprise, but their business networks are generally separate from their residential networks.) All the large cable companies and many smaller companies have announced fiber- to-the-home projects, as have several municipal networks that were originally built with HFC. Broad B and Communities ' list at www. fiberville.com shows about 50 franchised cable operators (MSOs) deploying fiber to the home in the United States. is represents projects started by many more cable companies that were later consolidated into the larger companies that exist today. ere are probably many others not on the list, as cable companies don't always publicize fiber deployments. On the other hand, the scope of these deployments is still small. Michael Render, president of market research firm RVA, estimates that in total, franchised cable companies pass about 1.3 million homes with fiber and have 0.7 million fiber customers. Altogether, U.S. cable companies have more than 60 million broadband customers, so their fiber operations are still a blip on the screen. FIBER IN GREENFIELD CONSTRUCTION How will cable companies transition from providing 1 percent of their customers with fiber services to providing 100 percent, and when will that happen? e most obvious path – and the situation in which most cable companies deploy FTTH today – is through new housing construction. In new construction, there usually isn't a great cost difference between deploying HFC and all-fiber networks, and developers of new communities, whether single-family or multifamily, often specify fiber to the unit for future proofing. Mike Slovin, vice president of national field sales for Comcast's XFINITY Communities, comments in regard to multifamily housing, "For greenfield, most owners are comfortable with fiber in new builds." Comcast has developed several fiber-to- the-unit solutions, which are used mainly, but not exclusively, in new construction.

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