Ultra-broadband network diversity is here to stay in Europe if the findings of a new study commissioned by cable operator giant Liberty Global are anything to go by.
Communications Chambers, a communications and media consultancy firm, has concluded that if the European Commission's vision of a
Gigabit Society by 2025 is to be realized in the most economic way possible, a broad range of technologies, including fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP), DOCSIS, G.fast and high-speed cellular access (particularly 5G) will be required to deliver a minimum 100 Mbit/s to all households and at least 1 Gbit/s to users such as schools and large businesses.
Handily enough for Liberty Global, the findings of the survey it commissioned suggest that DOCSIS technology could deliver 1Gbit/s broadband by 2017 and at a lower cost than using FTTP. The report also warns that "an over-prescriptive policy of focusing solely on FTTP risks jeopardising investment," suggesting that any intervention to favour FTTP "could be wasteful, or even damaging."
Handily enough, Liberty Global is on hand to help with a new initiative it is calling GIGAWorld (which sounds eerily like a broadband theme park). The point of the initiative is to highlight how, in the 12 European markets in which it operates, Liberty Global is already investing in the DOCSIS 3.x technology that will be capable of deliver 1Gbit/s services. It notes that about 50 million homes already have access to its "GIGAReady" (ouch!) networks, with millions more set to have access in the years to come.
You can read the full Liberty Global announcement right here.
The findings of the study, as presented by Liberty Global, are not in the least bit surprising: No one would argue that any one broadband technology could deliver ultra-broadband services across Europe within 20 years, let alone less than 10.
What is arguable, though, is the mix that will be deployed. By 2025, what percentage of households with broadband access speeds of 100 Mbit/s or more might be hooked up to a fiber? What market share will Liberty Global and other cable operators have? Will G.fast be broadly deployed beyond the UK, where it currently looks set to be pervasive across BT's network? And the role of fixed wireless is anyone's guess at this point -- spectrum availability and technology advances could, in theory, make short-range 5G-based wireless broadband connectivity economical in many instances, backed up by fiber to a local aggregation point for backhaul.
What Liberty Global will be wondering is, even if its DOCSIS 3.1 investments mean it's capable of delivering Gigabit broadband to tens of millions of homes and business across Europe by 2025, will it have a share of the market big enough to give it a return on investment and maintain a viable business?
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