Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The latest telco FTTP CapEx avoidance strategy: "wireless fiber"

Handcuffing Cities to Help Telecom Giants – Backchannel

This piece by Susan Crawford describes the latest large incumbent legacy telephone company strategy to avoid capital expenditures on fiber to the premise (FTTP): radio. Or as some incumbent voices term it, "wireless fiber." It follows the first CapEx avoidance strategy employed by AT&T a decade ago: running fiber to neighborhood nodes and serving customer premises via existing twisted pair copper designed for analog voice service. Naturally, there were lots of technology and service problems with that approach mixing old and new technology. And like the wireless everywhere strategy, it doesn't serve large portions of telco service territories where population density is lower.

As Crawford points out, wireless infrastructure no matter how fast can't offer the carrying capacity of fiber to accommodate inevitable future increases in bandwidth demand. It requires radios -- many of them -- mounted on utility poles and backhauled by lots of fiber. Running so much fiber into neighborhoods, Crawford begs the question of why not extend it all the way to customer premises (FTTP)? Anticipating resident push back against ubiquitous, unsightly field equipment installations in local government approval processes, the incumbents are aiming to preempt the locals while telling them "wireless fiber" will solve their telecom needs.

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