Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once famously remarked that “a week is a long time in politics.” Few would doubt that, but judging from the change in mood between Broadband World Forums 2011 and 2012, if a week is a long time in politics, a year is an eternity in the telecoms market.
You could barely move at BWF 2011 in Paris without having vendors lauding their fiber technology. The message was pretty clear: Fiber is the future, and copper is on the way out.
Well, fast-forward a year to Amsterdam, and copper was back in the limelight, with vendors being forced to accept the reality that many operators are simply not in the market for networkwide FTTH deployments. They don’t have the cash to pay for them and are skeptical of the benefits of rushing to FTTH.
As a result, this year vendors at the conference placed their “copper acceleration” technologies, such as line-bonding, vectoring and G.fast, under the spotlight while pushing FTTH technologies to the periphery.
Evolution, not revolution
Many European operator executives at the event spoke of how they had been forced to scale way back on their original bold FTTH-deployment plans, not only because of the deep recession gripping the continent but because they had initially vastly underestimated the cost and time of deploying networkwide FTTH.
As a result, many spoke more of a slow and steady FTTH “evolution” than of a fast “revolution” and said that the only way they would realistically be able to migrate to an all-FTTH network would be by gradually deploying FTTH when they could afford to rather than embarking on an aggressive deployment plan.