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Showing posts from 2017

App and Connectivity Firms Share Local Access Investments?

Will app providers and connectivity providers ever routinely share the cost of internet access facilities? Granted, it never has happened before. But the uncertain payback from fiber access facilities could lead to new thinking.
For fixed service providers, the growing amount of stranded assets is a key issue. Mobile service providers face different issues.
Unlimited mobile internet poses a threat to investments in capacity, in large part because there is little, if any, incremental revenue to be gained when usage is nearly unlimited and prices essentially are capped.
Eventually, that lack of return could prompt previously-unthinkable partnerships, including app providers funding optical access in the same way they often help fund (and own) subsea transport networks.
Partnerships between carriers and over-the-top players to fund deep fiber therefore emerges as a possibility, argue Deloitte consultants. But it is equally possible that more application providers will simply decide to bui…

U.S. Fiber Access Business Case Shifts

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For the first time in many decades, the business case for optical fiber access facilities in the U.S. market has changed. In the past, optical fiber was considered necessary to provide entertainment video and higher-speed internet access as retail services to consumers.
Consumer internet access still matters. The issue is how much the business case is changed, and on what scale, if distribution fiber and small cells support wireless access (mobile or fixed), without a full fiber to premises deployment.
In that sense, the question is really the payback from “fiber deep” distribution fiber, plus wireless access, compared to direct fiber to home alternatives, at least for fixed network telcos.
Where mobile carriers operate out of region (without existing fixed access network assets), and all the largest four mobile carriers do so for 100 percent to about 50 percent of the U.S. land mass, distribution fiber arguably is more crucial than access fiber. In other words, fiber to “small cell” lo…

Many Reasons Why U.S. Fixed Network Broadband Investment Lags

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Many observers would say U.S. fixed network telcos have not invested fast enough in optical fiber access facilities. There are many reasons, including uncertain payback and payback that does not come fast enough.
Sheer geography is one reason. In Canada, fiber to the home covers 90 percent of the population by covering three percent of the land mass. In Australia, 90 percent of the population can be outfitted with fiber to home by covering four percent of the land mass.
In the United States, covering 90 percent of the population with fiber to home facilities requires covering 31 percent of the land mass.
In other words, in Canada, 14 percent of the people live in areas of density between five and five people per square kilometer. In Australia, 18 percent of people live in such rural areas.
In the United States, 37 percent of the population lives in rural areas with less than 50 people per square kilometer.
Put another way, less than two percent of Canadians and four percent of Austral…

Unlicensed, Shared Spectrum Roles Growing

Growing use of unlicensed (unlicensed spectrum aggregated with licensed spectrum) and shared spectrum (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) to support mobile communications will create new opportunities for competitors or partners in the mobile access business.
Given power restrictions in unlicensed and shared spectrum, these technologies are most suitable for small cell indoor or venue deployments, one can argue. That will benefit mobile service providers serving indoor or other venues such as sports stadiums or campuses.
But availability of aggregated and shared spectrum (CBRS) might also create new opportunities for “venue communications providers” or new entrants in the mobile business (cable companies, Google, others).
With low to no spectrum acquisition costs and deployment economics comparable to Wi-Fi, in-building wireless penetration in the vast middle-sized and enterprise verticals will increase dramatically and account for more than half of in-building small cell shipments in …

AT&T Expands Fixed Wireless Coverage

AT&T is using  fixed wireless to provide internet access to 400,000 locations by the end of 2017 and over 1.1 million locations by 2020. The service is now available in eight new states, AT&T says.
More than 70,000 locations can now use fixed wireless for internet access in underserved or unserved areas across nine original states.
The new states include Alabama Florida Kentucky Mississippi North Carolina South Carolina Tennessee and Louisiana.
AT&T further plans to launch fixed wireless service in additional states overall later in 2017. The additional states are Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.
The service delivers a home internet connection with download speeds of at least 10 Mbps.

Cable Giants Explore Sprint Deal

Talks are not deals, but at least for two months, Sprint, Charter Communications and Comcast reportedly will explore possible deals, ranging likely from investments in Sprint by Charter and Comcast or even acquisitions or mergers, though most believe that is less likely.
One possible deal would involve an investment in Sprint by Charter and Comcast, which also would include favorable discounts on wholesale capacity provided by Sprint to Charter and Comcast, both of which are launching their own branded mobile services, using a mobile virtual network operrator deal with Verizon.
We can assume the cable companies are not happy about the business case, using Verizon's deal.
Any such deal would undoubtedly be structured in a way that does not prevent later talks between Sprint and T-Mobile US about a merger of those two firms.
A wholesale capacity arrangement with Sprint would allow the cable companies to lower operating costs, compared to the deal they have with Verizon, it is believ…

Some Actually Want Policies that Slow More Fiber to the Customer

Most observers would agree that replacing old copper with new optical fiber is a good idea. As with every public policy framework, not everybody always agrees, though.
Some advocate keeping copper in place. Non-facilities-based local access providers in the U.S. market want copper to remain in place, so they can use that copper to compete with the owners of the copper access facilities.
And some of the same policy advocates who generally complain that fiber is not being installed fast enough, often always support more investment in new copper access, moves that make the business case for transition to all-fiber facilities even harder.

So even if it remains a logical public policy stance to move as expeditiously as possible to all-fiber fixed networks, there always is opposition.
For every public purpose, there are corresponding private interests. Some of those private interests actually delay the fastest-possible transition to all-fiber access in the fixed network.

LPWA Connectivity Market Remains Nascent

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The GSMA today announced that its Mobile IoT Initiativehas lead to the launch of multiple commercial rollouts of Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) solutions using licensed mobile spectrum, by several of the world’s leading mobile operators including AT&T, China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom (DT), Verizon and Vodafone.
It is likely such efforts produce relatively little revenue yet, as LPWA networks are not so prevalent, yet, and traditional mobile connections (on the standard mobile networks)  likely drive nearly all the present revenue.
At present, U.S. mobile service providers likely earn only a couple of billion dollars a year from IoT connections. By some estimates, IoT accounts already represent existing connectivity revenue of about $3 billion in China.
The larger point is that it still is much too early to say very much about how big the IoT connectivity market might eventually become.
“IoT connectivity revenue will only reach US$28 billion by 2025, repres…

SD-WAN "Versus" MPLS? or SD-WAN "Plus" MPLS?

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How much will the wide area network connections business continue to change as cloud computing and the internet now drives the direction of the WAN business? The analysis will differ when looking at enterprise internal networking requirements, compared to enterprise customer-facing requirements.
Customer-facing use cases arguably represent the overwhelming bulk of transport requirements, if only because so much traffic is content delivery, especially video content delivery.
One source of uncertainty now is use of software defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) by business customers.
Some would note that SD-WANs were conceived, in part, as a replacement for Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks, largely in the cost area, but also because SD-WANs are considered easier to deploy and configure.
But some recent surveys of information technology professionals suggest SD-WAN and MPLS will coexist. At least in part, that could be because IT professionals believe SD-WANs can be overlaid o…