Judging by the number of different announcements over the past month, the broadband bar is moving upward from the gigabit level to multiples of Gbps, with 10 Gbps likely to be the "new normal" for high-end high-speed connectivity for homes and businesses. Meanwhile, carriers and third-party service providers continue to test how fast and practical fixed wireless connectively can be delivered. Faster fiber is the sure thing, while many questions surround 5G-esque broadband schemes.
Cable has recently made several multi-gig announcements. New York-based Mediacom Communications is flipping the switch on its DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit-capable network by the end of this year. Everyone across the footprint, homes and businesses will be able to access gigabit speeds, but perhaps more importantly, the business side of the company is already offering scalable services of up to 10 Gbps via fiber. I'm not sure if the cable industry has fully pondered the implications of gigabit home service affecting business services other than that business owners will want speeds that are at least equivalent, if not faster, depending on what the business is and the types of services it is offering to the local community.
Altice USA committed to upgrade its cable plant to fiber with speeds of up to 10 Gbps across its footprint. Through a mixture of more fiber and new technology, existing Optimum (News - Alert) and Suddenlink residential and business customers are going to get fiber starting in 2017, with the total deployment spread out over five (yes 5) years. Altice's build is more than just raw speed, with the new fiber-based infrastructure expected to deliver a more efficient and robust network with a "significant reduction" in energy consumption, so there's probably some SDN/NFV-esque technology floating around there. The efficiency savings are expected to pay for the buildout without a material (big) change in the company's overall capital budget – another interesting sign.
If Altice sees fiber as a way to make its network better and to cut down on operational costs in the U.S., it's only a matter of time before Comcast, Cox (News - Alert), and others get to the same conclusion.
But cable isn't the only high-speed player in town. ADTRAN has been very rah-rah on gigabit communities, with its most recent announcement on December 7 highlighting the Walsh community of Fort Worth, Texas. Walsh residents will get 2 Gbps broadband included with their homeowner association dues, with the option to pay for speeding up to 10 Gbps if they wish.
Overseas, Nokia (News - Alert) has made a pair of telling announcements. In New Zealand, carrier Spark has upgraded its optical transport network from 100 Gbps to 200 Gbps on a single wavelength, giving Spark more capacity for the dollar on its existing fiber network. Running 10 Gbps at the edge means U.S. carriers are going to move in the same direction to 200 Gbps and faster core network speeds just to avoid bottlenecks at the edge.
Telefonica (News - Alert) announced it had successfully tested Nokia's XGS-PON technology in the lab, delivering symmetrical broadband speeds of up to 10 Gbps. The Telefonica/Nokia announcement tied XGS-PON to a near-term demand for supporting gigabit speeds and a longer term one to support 5G backhaul. To be fair, this isn't anything “new," since Verizon (News - Alert) ran 10 Gig PON demonstrations around Boston a while back, saying it could add more wavelengths to support anywhere from 40 Gbps to 80 Gbps. But it is another marker in the long-term move to beyond 1 Gbps and up to 10 Gbps speeds for both residential and business services.
Edited by Alicia Young