Google Fiber Gets Even More Disruptive, Adds Wireless Wallop with Webpass

Erik Keith - Principal Analyst, Fixed Access Infrastructure

Erik Keith – Principal Analyst, Fixed Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • The acquisition of Webpass showcases Google Fiber’s strategic focus on fiber-centric service expansion efforts in high-density areas, supplemented by wireless broadband technology which dramatically expands Google Fiber’s addressable market and its status as a broader-scale, highly disruptive threat to incumbent operators.
  • Webpass lacks substantial customer traction – only 20,000 subscribers – especially for a company in business for 13 years. Nevertheless, Google Fiber’s acquisition of Webpass is more about future promise and potential than current power and presence.

Google Fiber’s recently announced acquisition of Webpass, which we covered here, is a clarion call signaling the company’s intentions of becoming an even more disruptive force in the U.S. broadband and TV/video/multiplay market. While there are roughly a dozen operators in the U.S. that offer world-class fixed broadband services – specifically, Gigabit access speeds – a massive number of U.S. consumers and business customers are still underserved by broadband, in terms of service speeds (i.e., well under the FCC’s definition of 25 Mbps), lack of competition or both. To this end, and expanding on its non-traditional approach to broadband network and service buildouts, Google Fiber has acquired Webpass, a wireless broadband service provider with fiber assets that has an established network and customer bases in the San Francisco Bay, San Diego, Chicago, Miami and Boston metros. Read more of this post

For ADTRAN, 200 Reasons Why Gigabit Access Is Relevant

Erik Keith

Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • ADTRAN’s August 2015 announcement highlighting its more than 200 networks supporting Gigabit access speeds demonstrates the growing relevance, and demand, for ultra-broadband fixed access services, despite ongoing skepticism about the need for Gigabit-speed connections.
  • With ADTRAN’s FTTH solutions enabling Gigabit connectivity – primarily for telcos but also for several cable operators – operators will become increasingly compelled to upgrade their networks to respond to competitive pressures, driving additional opportunities for networking equipment vendors.

ADTRAN, while certainly not the largest or most aggressive telecom equipment vendor in the market, has still garnered the rather notable superlative of being the first vendor to claim enabling more than 200 customer networks that offer Gigabit access speeds. While many of ADTRAN’s Gigabit customers are smaller telcos and cable companies in the unique North American market (where there are over 1,200 Tier 2 and Tier 3 service providers), this does not diminish the fact that ADTRAN’s 200-plus Gigabit-enabled communities/networks benchmark is quite an achievement. Read more of this post

CCAP: Taking Cable Operators to an IP Video & Gigabit Future

Erik Keith

Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) solutions, which consolidate formerly discrete CMTS (data) and EdgeQAM (video) cable headend hardware, will pave the way for cable operators to deliver mass-market Gigabit broadband and IP video services.
  • Current Analysis will provide in-depth, qualitative analysis of CCAP solutions from five different vendors in the coming months, specifically, Cisco, ARRIS, Casa Systems, Harmonic and Huawei.

As video services become more sophisticated and bandwidth-hungry, Gigabit connectivity to every home is getting a lot of hype these days. The problem is that very few consumers in the U.S. and worldwide actually subscribe (or have access) to Gigabit services at present. Nevertheless, there is an undeniable sense that the Gigabit future is now. Just this week, U.S. cable giant Comcast announced that its 2 Gbps GigaPro service will be available in several new markets, while AT&T announced that its GigaPower service will be offered in additional major metro markets (17 total) and the operator will expand its target GigaPower customer based to include multifamily residences – i.e., apartments and condominiums – known as multi-dwelling units (MDUs) in industry jargon. Read more of this post

Alcatel-Lucent Surpasses 300 Million DSL Ports in Its Drive to Connect the World

Erik Keith

Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • Alcatel-Lucent’s 300 million-DSL port shipment benchmark highlights the company’s long-time commitment to the wireline broadband market, including multiple evolutions of DSL that have led to groundbreaking technologies such as VDSL vectoring, Vplus and G.fast.
  • While this achievement is worthy of celebration, Alcatel-Lucent will continue to leverage its extensive product R&D resources, including Bell Laboratories, to develop and deliver even more powerful, higher-speed wireline access technologies to address evolving operator service imperatives such as 4KTV.

The first quarter of 2015 saw Alcatel-Lucent surpass an important, and impressive, milestone: 300 million total DSL port shipments. But, unlike McDonalds’ ubiquitous fast food signage has highlighted for decades – now simply “billions and billions served” – Alcatel-Lucent has taken a far more humble response to achieving this benchmark. Read more of this post

Celtic-Plus Seeks to Mine Gigabit Access Speeds from Copper with GOLD Project

Erik Keith

Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • Celtic-Plus, a research initiative composed of operators, fixed access systems and CPE vendors, chipset suppliers, and two universities, has initiated its “Gigabits Over the Legacy Drop” project, or GOLD, to develop copper-based multi-gigabit fixed access solutions based on the G.fast standard.
  • The GOLD initiative demonstrates that telco operators are clearly still interested in “sweating” their copper network assets to the greatest extent possible, again highlighting the fact that full-fiber FTTH networks are still too expensive, at least within the current EU regulatory environment.

Last week, Celtic-Plus, a European research initiative, announced a new project: “Gigabits Over the Legacy Drop” (GOLD). The goal of the GOLD project is to leverage the newly-minted G.fast standard – which itself is designed to support up to 1 Gigabit (aggregate) connections to end users – to enable operators to expand their ultra-broadband networking capabilities to include multi-gigabit services over last-run access copper. This will be achieved by using the next proposed step in the G.fast standard, presumably, the 212 MHz frequency (the current standard is based on a maximum frequency of 106 MHz). The GOLD project, which started in January 2015, will run for three full years, finishing in December 2017. The GOLD consortium participants are listed below: Read more of this post

4KTV: Are Operators and Their Networks Ready? Not Just Yet

Erik Keith

Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • Despite the hype surrounding 4K/UHD TV/video, the fact is that most broadband networks are not yet capable of supporting broadcast-quality 4K services, according to Akamai and other industry sources.
  • While new access network technologies, and new architectures, will enable the delivery of 4K TV/video, including linear, multichannel services, we are still several years away from 4K becoming a mass-market reality.

Several months ago on Twitter, prompted by a tweet announcing “Panasonic’s Ultra HD Blu-ray player could make discs matter again,” I replied, “#4K #Bluray memory space on current discs can be solved by #Laserdisc/LP-sized format (!), but it will never happen.” For those of us that spent a good portion of our youth enjoying music via vinyl records played on turntables, a return to a 12-inch (30-cm) laserdisc-sized physical format would certainly be a blast from the past. Some of us might even enjoy the novelty of such a now-massive format. Of course, this proved a far-fetched pipedream, as evolving, multi-layer technology will enable the continuing usage of the existing CD/DVD/Blu-ray-sized format. Read more of this post

Is an Executive Order Necessary to Enable City and Municipal Fiber?

Erik Keith

Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • President Obama has threatened an executive order to ensure that U.S. cities and municipalities are NOT prohibited from building their own broadband networks; he needs to follow through, if necessary.
  • Incumbent operators need to view city and/or municipal networks as opportunities instead of threats. For example, they can partner to deliver service bundles over these networks, without having to invest in FTTH network builds themselves.

When I first became aware that legislatures in 20 U.S. states have passed laws banning cities/municipalities from building their own fiber/ultra-broadband networks – in many cases, spurred by lobbying efforts funded by incumbent operators – I was stunned, and then appalled. How un-American. I had a similar reaction when several state legislatures either passed laws or ensured the continuing enforcement of outdated code preventing Tesla Motors from selling directly to customers (with Michigan, unsurprisingly, being the most blatant about it).

However, there is a massive difference between buying an automobile and “buying” a fiber network. With the Tesla, the buyer/consumer can still buy the car from dealers in Tesla-friendly states, adjacent or not. But, unlike a car, one cannot just buy a fiber network infrastructure and take it home. Read more of this post