Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) announcements aren’t making the headlines they did a couple of years ago, but projects are continuing apace.
For instance, last month CenturyLink said that it is expanding its network to parts of Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Dakota. It now offers services, which it says are as fast as 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps), to parts of 17 states. By the end of the year, it says it will have more than 700,000 subscribers.
The highest-profile FTTH provider, of course, is Google Fiber. The company said last month that it is adding Louisville, Kentucky, and Irvine and San Diego, California to its roster, according to Lightwave Online. The company now is involved in 15 sites: the three that were just announced, operational networks (Austin, Texas; Provo, Utah and Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri), six with firm plans, and three that are in the negotiation phase.
AT&T went at the subject in a different way. Its strategy was to terminate fiber at a point before the home or business and reach the endpoint using another media, usually digital subscriber line (DSL). This has proven to be a prudent approach because DSL advances have enabled it to deliver more data over the “last mile.”
Even souped-up DSL isn’t as fast as fiber, however, and the company pledged to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this summer to upgrade 11.7 million locations to 1 Gbps FTTH service if its acquisition of DirecTv was approved. It was, and the deal closed in late July.
FierceTelecom reported in September that AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens indicated that the carrier “has already built out the foundation from its Project VIP initiative to take fiber to more homes and businesses.” Stephens, speaking to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2015 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, said Project VIP has rolled out FTTN service to 57 million locations in the United States. The plan is to reach the FTTH locations within four years of the closing of the DirecTv acquisition.
Despite the progress, FTTH has a long way to go. In a video interview shot at the Gigabit Europe 2015 conference in late September and posted this week at Light Reading, Ventura Team co-Founder Richard Jones told Editor-in-Chief Ray LeMaistre that carriers should check out the competition before embarking on a FTTH project. More specifically, they shouldn’t move forward if there is a cable company, an open access municipal network – which the carrier can use itself – or another incumbent.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.