Monday, September 06, 2004

Has Your Broadband Had Its Fiber?

A story in PCWorld, Has Your Broadband Had Its Fiber?, reviews the increasing momentum of the Fiber To The Home movement, focusing on the Baby Bell providers and the changing circumstances that are driving some carriers to begin pushing their fiber into the home.

The basic pressure is competition with the cablecos. As the story makes clear the Bells all realize that they have to get the bandwidth to compete with cable companies. But their strategies for getting there are very different. They are all promising their subscribers (and perhaps more importantly their stockholders and assorted analysts) much higher bandwidth in the near future.

I doubt that the numbers PCWorld repeats will be seen anytime soon—the history of these things reveals small incremental progress, with each step upgrade being paid out before the next is initiated is simply the way these folks think. (Notice that the lowest number mentioned is by Verizon which is the only one actually fielding the speeds their representatives discuss. And Verizon is using the superior technology. Caveat emptor!)

There are some interesting tidbits however:
The fiber dream has become a reality in Japan, where FTTH at 100 mbps has been offered since early 2002. There were 1.4 million subscribers to the service at the end of June, according to Japanese government figures, meaning FTTH represents just under 9 percent of Japan's broadband subscriptions.
It will take the US decades to get anywhere near 10% penetration at the current rate of deployment.

The bottom line is one made repeatedly on these pages: Fiber to the home is coming; any protestation that you don't need fiber made by incumbents is the rawest sort of disinformation--or our local execs are the only ones in their companies that haven't gotten the message.

The only question that remains to be settled is who will own the coming monopoly to true broadband connections to the home.

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