Infonetics Research (News - Alert) recently put out some results from its study of the fixed broadband market, the "Next Gen PON, FTTH and VDSL Deployment Strategies and Vendor Leadership: Global Service Provider Survey". The survey returned some interesting information, including the revelation that Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) was the top vendor in the field, but also that there were wider issues that everyone in the field would need to contend with.
The Infonetics Research survey revealed that, indeed, Alcatel-Lucent was ranked as the top provider in the FTTH market by a wide margin, with fully 70 percent of respondents citing them as such. Alcatel-Lucent also ranked right alongside Calix (News - Alert) at the number one slot in terms of technology innovation, quality of management software, and the overall reliability of the products in question.
The survey also showed that operators had some very big plans indeed for fixed broadband access, with fully 40 percent of operators planning to offer 100+ Mbps connections by 2015, as well as a similar proportion planning to deploy VDSL2 system-level vectoring capability. 78 percent, meanwhile, have already rolled out 2.5G GPON, and that number will jump fully nine percent to 87 percent by the end of 2013 if all goes as planned.
Yet there were some underlying issues in the survey that made things somewhat disturbing. While the fixed broadband providers have big plans for fixed broadband, actually getting those plans to fruition with the next generation of fixed access technologies like XGPON1 and different varieties of WDM-PON will take longer than expected.
Basically, the issue isn't one of technology but seemingly one of demand, with the drivers necessary for change in place, but not to such a degree as to require an accelerated program. With the substantial costs involved with upgrading systems to next-gen technology, that means most of the operators are planning to wait for price drops on the next-gen hardware before they make big investments.
This is telling for two critical reasons: one, in terms of sheer profitability, fixed broadband is right near the top for providers. It could be easily derived, therefore, that providers would want to put their all into such systems. But that's where the second point comes in: the issue of mobile networks, and the costs required to maintain and upgrade them, is eating into the available capital of mobile providers, forcing them to back-burner plans for fixed broadband upgrades.
While keeping mobile networks running to their fullest is important for a lot of subscribers--and therefore providers--the costs of doing so are certainly substantial. This is forcing companies to make choices between upgrading mobile or upgrading fixed, and right now, they're choosing to upgrade mobile more than fixed. On a certain level that makes sense; while users may chafe somewhat under bandwidth caps and speeds for fixed broadband, they're significantly better in both regards than mobile broadband. Providers are improving the clearly lesser service for now.
The end result is an interesting one indeed for vendors and users alike, and will likely prove to be the kind of thing that will color markets for some time now. Those looking to get into fixed broadband with the capital to buy next-gen equipment now may well find a competitive edge, if perhaps only a short-term one, over other firms in the field.
Edited by Brooke Neuman