The world’s telcos and cablecos have been in a fiercely fought broadband technology battle for over a decade.
The cablecos are winning.
Telcos with copper-to-the-home networks are losing.
That trend appears likely to continue.
The telcos’ best hope, other than building all-fiber networks, is the new G.fast broadband technology that is capable of speeds in the 300 Mbps to 1.0 Gbps range.
No telco has yet committed to G.fast publicly.
DOCSIS 3.1 coming to a neighborhood near you
The cablecos’ next generation technology is the 3.1 version of DOCSIS, which is capable of speeds in excess of 1 Gbps. DOCSIS 3.1 is a multi-Gbps technology. G.fast is a multi-hundred Mbps technology.
You can argue whether multi-Gbps broadband is needed but you can’t argue that anyone ever complained about having too much broadband speed. No company CEO has ever been fired for deploying broadband that’s too fast but lots of telco CEOs should be fired for letting their broadband speeds so badly lag the cablecos’.
Comcast is already field testing DOCSIS 3.1, albeit with specially made gear and at the homes of some of its employees.
Comcast’s VP of access architecture Jorge Salinger told a CableLabs meeting earlier this month, “The target for us is to be in the field establishing network readiness in 2015. Our overall goal is to be able to deploy DOCSIS 3.1 and gigabit-per-second on a broad scale starting in 2016.”
To repeat Salinger:
– Establish network readiness in 2015. That is this year and most of three months have already gone by.
– Deploying on a broad scale in 2016.
No telco executive in the world has yet made a similar statement about G.fast. In fact it’s not even certain that G.fast chips are available for any telco to conduct a broad scale deployment in 2015.
Cablecos can deploy 3.1 on their existing hybrid fiber/coax network and even use the same equipment, not including the modem/gateway.
Telcos have to install fiber much closer to the residence before they can deploy G.fast. It’s not an easy or inexpensive deployment for the telcos – although it is less expensive and quicker than building all-fiber networks.
Cablecos will need to develop new installation procedures and tools plus train installation crews and technicians. Comcast has jumped the gun on that. It is already begun training 500 to 1,000 people and will in time increase that to 20,000 to 40,000 people.
CableLabs director of network technologies Belal Hamzeh said the certification of DOCSIS 3.1 gear is underway. There have already been three equipment plugfests and several more are planned. It expects to start certifying DOCSIS gear in May. Yes, this May. May 2015. Two months from now.
Where are the telcos and their G.fast technologies? Telcos CEOs and other executives should begin making public commitments including expected speeds and availability — just as Comcast’s Salinger has done.
An AT&T executive once answered a question about broadband speeds by asking the question, “Why would anyone at home ever need more that 1 Mbps?” That thinking still continues at too many telcos but …
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