Friday, September 30, 2016

Korea Telecom Sees New Value from Fixed Network

Korea Telecom, like Verizon, now sees different strategic value for the fixed network. AT&T likely agrees, up to a point.

The stated upside for Korea Telecom fixed transport network capacity upgrades is said to be “home video, mobile broadband, and VIP leased lines.”

Consumer video includes support for bandwidth-intensive 4K video formats, but telco upgrades to fiber-to-home or fiber-to-node long have been premised on incremental video entertainment revenues. That is not especially new.

Nor would anyone find trunking network support for business and enterprise customers too surprising.

What is different is the use of the fixed network as backhaul for mobile broadband. Again, while mobile backhaul always has been key revenue driver for cell tower connections, coming small cell requirements represent a qualitative change.

It is one thing to support networks of macrocells. That fiber-to-tower market has been important for many service providers for some years.

Up to this point, in the U.S. market, there has been a need for backhaul to perhaps 300,000 macro cell sites in the United States and 200,000 towers. All that will change with new small cell overlay networks to support capacity upgrades for 4G and 5G networks.

Ignore for the moment potentially millions of enterprise small cells. Public networks in urban areas might be built out more extensively than anything seen before.

If in some urban areas the density is roughly “fiber to every other light pole,” That implies potentially millions of new backhaul sites to be supported.

That in turn will require dense fiber backhaul networks. So the new strategic value of the fixed network will extend beyond consumer video/broadband and enterprise/business connections to mobile small cell backhaul.

The additional incremental change is backhaul for fixed wireless small cells.

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