Tom Nolle, CIMI Corp
30 Aug 2010
Few network operators would question the truth that broadband infrastructure is the "new dialtone" of the network. And in most geographies, there is little doubt that competition and regulations are combining to encourage ever-faster broadband connection speeds.
Operators agree that competition and regulations combined could easily drive down carriers' ROI for broadband infrastructure and even profit margins. The relationship between competitive positioning and profit isn't a happy one, and it demands careful capacity planning analysis when considering broadband delivery technology options.
Four last-mile technologies for broadband infrastructure merit consideration.
- DSL, a technology that reuses copper pairs installed for analog voice service in digital delivery applications
- CATV coaxial cable, the technology used by cable TV providers to deliver television programming and updated to carry broadband using DOCSIS standards from CableLabs
- FTTH, normally deployed in a PON configuration
- Fixed wireless broadband, which most often means Wimax
Other options such as broadband over power line are being considered, but the capacity wars among traditional telco and cable competitors may push broadband speeds beyond the levels that could be reliably obtained using power-line delivery.
Each access technology has its own pros and cons.
The gold standard for broadband content and entertainment delivery is clearly FTTH. But the challenge is proving return on investment for the network, which has the highest pass cost. That limits FTTH to applications where the economic density of a service area is high and ARPU is likely to pay back quickly on the investment. As a result, that usually means that FTTH must be used both for TV and broadband service delivery.