By Lisa R. Youngers, President and CEO, Fiber Broadband Association
A new neighbor is moving in down the street from my home in Northern Virginia: Amazon.
Amazon just announced it will build a second set of headquarters in Crystal City, Va., and Long Island City, N.Y. In addition to a bevy of highly skilled tech workers and many transportation options, these two locations also have something else in common: fiber optic connectivity. In fact, when Amazon issued its first request for proposals for HQ2, the company identified "optimal fiber connectivity" as a prerequisite.
Faster than a Speeding Commuter Train
Sure, proximity to Washington, D.C., and a strong commuter rail system helped Crystal City, Va., win over Amazon's hearts and minds -- but those assets would not have helped had the metro area not had high-speed broadband, writes Lisa Younger. That was table stakes. (Source: Wikipedia)
But Amazon is not the only corporation acknowledging the economic value of fiber. Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Zayo Group, a large independent fiber owner, is fielding multiple takeover offers from the likes of Blackstone and other venture capital groups. The reason is simple: access to reliable, high-speed broadband is essential to any modern business and so fiber network assets are increasing in value. The average US employee wastes a week each year waiting on their company's network to respond, Sandisk estimates. Think of the implication for the bottom line -- not to mention employee morale. And as cloud-based applications and VOIP telephony continue to grow, high-speed, fiber-fed networks must match pace.
The financial benefits of fiber-fed connections are not limited to traditional offices; in fact, one key use case is agriculture. Forbes predicts
use of precision agriculture tools like smart tractors and yield monitoring will grow by 14% in the US alone by 2022. These technologies will vastly improve efficiency and productivity for farms.
To foster this economic benefit and to become smart cities, many communities are investing in fiber networks on a macro level, either on their own or increasingly as part of public-private partnerships or other arrangements where they share financing and operating the network with a private partner. This has proven to be a shrewd investment: the benefits of fiber deployment far outweigh its upfront costs. Because fiber provides so many economic -- not to mention educational and entertainment -- opportunities, it provides a high ROI. The economic value generated from fiber far outpaced the cost of installing and maintaining the infrastructure, a
University of Tennessee study found the. Fiber is a win-win. It is, therefore, no wonder that communities with gigabit connections like fiber have a 1.1% higher GDP than similarly situated communities without it.
As our networks evolve to support 5G applications, services and experiences, fiber will become even more valuable. Blanketing the country in networks that provide high throughput rates, low latency and the bandwidth to simultaneously support hundreds of devices will require a lot more fiber and investment than we currently have. According to our research at the Fiber Broadband Association, the top 25 metro areas in the US will need to lay down 1.4 million miles of fiber cable to support 5G. Likewise, Deloitte estimates that the US needs to invest more than $130 billion in fiber deployment in the next few years to keep up with the 5G rollout. So as fiber needs grow, so too does the value of fiber and the fiber industry. (See US Needs Accurate Broadband Map and Deloitte: Invest $150B in Deep Fiber or Else.)
Now more than ever, fiber's stock is on the rise. It seems analysts and investors alike have come to understand that fiber is the network of the future. High-speed, future-proof connectivity is vital to our economy -- and the time to invest in fiber is now.
During the recent midterms, candidates from both side of the political aisle recognized the importance their constituents placed on broadband, writes Heather Gold, board member and former president of Fiber Broadband Association.
In this month's column, Fiber Broadband Association President and CEO Heather Burnett Gold discusses how fiber optic sensing could reinvent business, government and personal lives — from early prediction of earthquakes and tsunamis to protecting the border, the environment and critical infrastructure.
OTT services depend on reliable, high-speed, low latency Internet connections and the ability to consume an immense amount of data, and fiber leads all other access technologies in delivering each of these capabilities, writes Heather Burnett Gold, president and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association, in this month's blog.
Consumers are buying millions of IoT devices, from smart thermostats and security systems to intelligent entertainment setups and furniture. Yet many of these devices remain isolated because home users are uncomfortable connecting them to each other – or even their WiFi. After all, their WiFi network was probably designed only to handle a few laptops, a gaming system and a couple of smartphones. Now, demand on the network is surging and even though you're delivering 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps, that doesn't necessarily mean the broadband power is in the right place or reaches every corner of a home.
Even if WiFi coverage is sufficient, typing is not on trend. Voice is far more natural, easier and faster. Using a TV keyboard is archaic when more and more households have access to cloud-based voice services, like Amazon Alexa. This webinar will explore how service providers can create a comfortable, truly smart home for consumers – simultaneously driving up margin and loyalty.
Tune in to Broadband World News Radio on Thursday, November 1 at 8 a.m. PT, 11 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. UK as Ronan Kelly, CTO, EMEA & APAC Regions at ADTRAN, explores the five pillars of network integrity -- a topic he discussed during his recent Broadband World Forum keynote. Register now!