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A Look at the Future of Wireline

The news out of small ILECs like TDS and Cincinnati Bell is that fiber to the home is selling well but more importantly is increasing retention and lowering churn. (Customer acquisition costs are very high in flat product segments like consumer broadband, cellular service and TV.)

Even Fairport, acquired by RLEC Consolidated, is upgrading its network for higher speeds. Some of this is due to the fact that cable is winning the broadband war. Some of it is powered by USF Reform whereby broadband is the metric for dollars. Add in the Connect America Funds (CAF) and other federal and state incentives for broadband and middle mile fiber deployment. AT&T, Verizon, Windstream and CenturyLink have all talked about upgrading the broadband infrastructure. (BTW, this flies in the face of the new FCC Chairman’s claims that investment went down after Title II.) It comes down to revenue – and DSL was not cutting it.

Fiber deployment is tough (just ask Google). Many providers use a mix of technologies. TPX (formerly known as TelePacific), Windstream, XO and Google Fiber use fixed wireless for broadband. Thousands of WISPs in America have been utilizing wireless to deliver broadband for years. The bigger guys are now jumping on the bandwagon. To be fair, the technology is not only better, but cheaper.

This from DSL Prime: (from Sail Internet in Fremont California) “George Ginis used Mimosa’s super Wi-Fi to connect a customer a customer with 435.74 down, 331.83 up, and 4 ms ping. 5 GHz Mimosa is designed like a mmWave network but a heck of a lot cheaper than 28 GHz. Interesting alternative.”

DSL Prime has an ad from Sckipio about Virtual fiber. “Extend your fiber with 100-300 meters of single-port G.fast. It can save expensive trenching for cell towers, small cells, basement fiber, commercial customers and others. A very thin management layer allows operators to keep their existing GPON management layer. Sckipio makes it effortless to add G.fast to any GPON network.” G.fast uses copper like VDSL2. We’ll see if it gets adopted in the US like it is in Europe.

Also on the copper side is trials by ASSIA for Terabit DSL. See here. Companies are at work to extend the life of wireline broadband to satisfy the consumer appetite for downloading videos. On the business side, the same technologies will be used to feed the business appetite for cloud apps – fixed wireless, 4G/LTE-A/5G, DSL/T1, cable modem and fiber. SD-WAN will be layered on top for metrics, failover/resilience and more. Interesting times.

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