As a former network planner, I have to tell you the world in flux is hard to watch.
It was not a surprise to me that the Wall Street Journal found Google Fiber’s had troubles and struggles in deployment, to the point where they were rethinking their solution and need to be in the business. http://www.wsj.com/articles/googles-high-speed-web-plans-hit-snags-1471193165 What was a surprise was that it made the front page.
You see the game changing often is subtler. While the talk is about 5G, we have the need for speed showing up in the home and multi-dwelling units (MDUs). AT&T recently made a commitment to bring Gfast to 22 cities. From a network perspective, this is fascinating since it’s a commitment to the edge that requires a rethink of home delivery. It suggests that 5G is definitely a requirement.
When we first worked on recommendations to Level 3 our general sense was you only needed two data centers to provide service across the US. When I first worked on SONET rings, I wondered how long before the central office was going to be looked at as something to bypass. Now I drive by the fiber coils on the poles and think to myself, how does this change the connection point in central office? And then I wonder, is there anything left in all that copper?
The answer is found in inside wire.
You see Gfast as a protocol has come of age and Sckipio http://www.sckipio.com has gotten their implementation up to 4Gbps with bonding and extended past some of the distance limitations. The result is that there is life in copper. Not only that, but the existing copper is being mixed in with fiber and satellite services to change the economics in every thing from MDUs to home delivery.
I talked to Michael Weissman about an implementation they did with Windstream http://news.windstream.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=1745 and the Calix AXOS solution https://www.calix.com. Between the port density from Calix and the chipset from Sckipio, I was struck by how copper was now starting to resemble the early fiber market.
“The copper’s already in the ground – it’s basically dark copper. Now, we are simply realizing the full potential this existing infrastructure provides,” said Weissman. “Today, Sckipio supports 4Gbps with 212Mhz bonding and there are plans to look at speeds that could reach 10Gbps in the coming 3-5 years. That’s enough to meet consumer needs well into the 2030s.”
In the old days, Level3 and Global Crossing would have excess capacity to sell as they deployed local services.
Now the copper in MDUs and existing installments are assets worth reconnecting to deliver the needed speeds.
In contrast to some of the small cell costs, I would say copper has found a sweet spot again.
Because Gee. It’s Fast.