A map last updated in June 2014 is the most recent pictorial representation from the Federal Communications Commission of where the nation's fiber cable is deployed. Not only is it out of date, it's inaccurate, and that could be preventing regions from getting funding for high-speed broadband, the president of the Fiber Broadband Association says.
"We've seen a lot of concerns over the mapping," said Heather Burnett Gold, president and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association, in an interview with UBB2020. "Entities have come in and said an area is served when, in fact, it's not -- garbage in, garbage out on the data. There has been a lot of concern over the mapping accuracy."
This lack of insight comes at a time when the US needs millions of miles of fiber for 5G alone. The nation must deploy at least 1.4 million miles of additional fiber optic cable to the top 25 major metropolitan areas for 5G to live up to its much-touted promises, a new report by the Fiber Broadband Association predicts.
In its whitepaper, "The Road to 5G is Paved with Fiber," the organization posits it takes about eight miles of fiber per square mile to connect the many densified small cells required for 5G. The top 25 metro regions in the US total 173,852 square miles, according to the organization, totaling 1,390,816 miles of fiber cable.
5G Fuels Existing Hunger for Fiber
The need for fiber, already high, will only grow in 2018 as more operators, municipalities and others recognize the value of fiber-optic cable for 5G, said Heather Burnett Gold, president and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association.
If competing carriers or local governments opt to build their own infrastructure, these 25 regions alone would demand more fiber.
This doesn't take into account the country's many other cities, towns and suburbs, as well as the vast swathes of rural regions that still require fiber, said Burnett Gold. (See Fiber Champion Heather Burnett Gold to Retire.)
"It's a big problem because we need to make sure companies that are providing services in those rural areas are deploying more fiber. Whether 5G will be an answer in a rural area, I don't know -- maybe in county seats -- because cell towers have to be so close together to be effective," she said, noting that uses such as Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for agriculture, government and tourism could generate demand and a business plan for investment and ROI. "But all communities need more fiber and cracking that rural nut is imperative to making sure we don't have any haves and have nots."
Potential taxpayer investment faces a hurdle: No current map shows fiber deployment across the country. The Federal Communications Commission stopped posting the National Broadband Map in June 2014 because of a "lack of funds."
"It is important because it says where there are areas that are eligible for funding, so if the map's not accurate, we may miss areas or think that areas are served [that] in fact aren't," Burnett Gold said. "That is something that needs to be addressed. I'm not sure where we get the movement to address that, though."
On Jan. 23, Broadband World News hosts a Calix-sponsored webinar that explores several ways CSPs can enhance customer experience and find new business opportunities to avoid devolving into a speed race where nobody wins, not even the customer.
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It wasn't long ago that TV was ranked by subscribers as the most important service in the bundle provided by their communications service provider (CSP). Recent research indicates that for nearly three quarters of subscribers, broadband is now the most important service. Broadcast TV is the most important service to only 15% of North American consumers, replaced by OTT video streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. In addition, many different competitors are moving aggressively to stake a claim in consumers' homes.
In 2020, CSPs need to fight back by transforming their business models, which are becoming more reliant on a single source of revenue: fixed broadband services.
This webinar will focus on helping CSPs transform their business models by placing a firm focus on delivering a sensational subscriber experience and by offering compelling new services that generate value for subscribers. These actions will reinforce the CSP's strategic position in the home network and position themselves for growth in the next decade.
Key topics include:
Being the first to market with WiFi 6 technology, in response to consumer purchases of new devices over the holidays;
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Providing help desk agents with the visibility they need to resolve common subscriber issues more quickly;
Delivering a mobile app, in response to consumer demands for the ability to do some things themselves, rather than having to call technical support; and
Addressing consumer concerns around device security, privacy and control with enhanced security and parental controls.
In this insightful Light Reading radio show, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will outline the key service provider challenges, deployment considerations, next-gen Gigabit technologies, and service models to win market share in the rapidly growing MDU market.