Monday, April 13, 2015

Access Platform Decisions Still are Controversial

Debates about when, how or why to deploy fiber to the home have been relevant for decades. Among the bigger juxtapositions: fiber to the home versus fiber to the curb or fiber to the neighborhood; FTTH versus hybrid fiber coax; and more recently, the value of fixed versus mobile investments.

Those debates were relevant because payback is relevant, and it has been no secret that the FTTH business model has been difficult, especially in competitive markets, and particularly so in markets where there are rival facilities-based competitors.

By about 2020, the challenges will grow worse, as fifth generation mobile networks promise end user bandwidth up to 10 Gbps, with one millisecond latency.

In Vietnam, where perhaps only 1.5 percent of locations have access to FTTH, the Fiber to the Home Council Asia-Pacific has urged service providers to invest heavily.

In addition to retail broadband services, telcos could profit from backhaul bandwidth and connectivity for mobile operators, especially those venturing into Long Term Evolution, said Dr. Bernard Lee, FTTH Council Asia Pacific president.

Some might say it is a bit of over-investment to build a ubiquitous residential network only so that network can be used for mobile backhaul.

With so much changing in the access business, statistics alone will not drive business investment decisions.

When more access, at higher speed, is required, service providers will look at all the ways platforms can be deployed, the cost, timetable and also revenue implications of doing so.

In most markets, ubiquitous fiber to home might not be the wise choice. Mobile operators have joined cable TV operators in making that argument. And Verizon seems now almost to regret having made that choice.

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