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Gigabit Cities

Are Gigabit Cities Lands of Confusion?

It's pretty clear that not all consumers are convinced that they need a gigabit. It's also becoming increasingly clear that a lot of them might not even know what it means.

So says a recent study by Pivot Group , anyway, which found that a surprisingly low percentage of consumers have even heard of gigabit services, and only about half understand that a gigabit is more than a megabit. (See Consumers Are Gig Ignorant – Study.)

That's a little surprising to me, given all the gigabit hullabaloo of late, as well as the fact that so many providers of all sizes are appropriating the "giga" prefix in some fashion as part of their service branding -- from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s GigaPower to Paul Bunyan Communications ' GigaZone, for example. (See Minnesota Gets Giant-Sized Gigabit Rollout)

If it's accurate, though, it means this industry has a lot of work to do -- and not just in teaching consumers about what a gigabit is. The companies deploying gigabit services must also educate both residential and business consumers about what gigabit networks can do for them -- what makes them worth the price they're charging -- and also participate in industry efforts to foster development of applications that will demonstrate the power of these networks. (See US Ignite Cultivates Gigabit Apps.)


Get the latest updates on the Gigabit Cities trend by visiting Light Reading's broadband/FTTx content channel.


Gigabit providers also need to be more forthcoming -- something one of the most high-profile of them is simply not. Google Fiber Inc. is notoriously mum on its plans, and has repeatedly declined Light Reading's requests for interviews with its leadership. When queried about an upcoming media event in Austin, a Google Fiber spokesperson said only local broadcast media will be granted interviews. It's exactly that kind of caginess that fuels speculation about whether Google Fiber's true mission is to be a network operator and competitive service provider, or simply to use its brand clout to spur other network operators into upgrading their networks to gigabit speeds more quickly.

We may be in the early stages of the Gigabit Cities era, but this is a critical juncture for service providers. How they communicate their strategies, how their networks perform and how they educate consumers about what they're providing, why they're providing it and what it's good for will make the difference between marketing flimflam and true transformation.

— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading

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danielcawrey 10/13/2014 | 8:55:29 PM
Re: Giga this I think Google Fiber is all about brand clout, although I do think that the company now realizes that this effort is a lot harder than it has let on. Being a service provider is a lot of work, something that while I'm sure Google is capabale of, it doesn't want to go down the road of being a service provider.

It just wants to push fast access as something everyone should have. 
kq4ym 10/13/2014 | 9:41:08 AM
Re: Giga this It has seemed to me the providers are not really doing a good job of explaining to the consumers why these high speeds are necessary either today or in the future. It's seems more like building cars of the 1950s with bigger and bigger fins. Did they really drive better or just a sales gimmick? Until the customers are satisfied that the cost justifies the advantage, it's going to not be wildly popular with everyone anyway.
mendyk 10/13/2014 | 8:49:33 AM
Re: Giga this Yes, just about every fundamental infrastructure buildout (phones, roads, rails, power grids, water systems) has required significant government involvement -- either as a direct participant or as an enabler through providing favorable economic conditions. It's more than reasonable to wonder if the collective will exists now to create a 21st-century network on a national scale, which is why local/regional initiatives are so important.
KBode 10/13/2014 | 8:18:02 AM
Well... It's not really complicated to understand that 1 Gbps is faster than what they have now. I imagine that by 2016, when DOCSIS 3.1 deployments start to pop up everywhere, that consumers will probably learn pretty quickly what it is -- and that they probably can't afford it. I think the conversation about cost and competition is more important than about a speed that -- unless you live in a Google Fiber or in range of a municipal operation -- most users can't afford.
MarkC73 10/13/2014 | 1:14:58 AM
Re: Giga this The fact that Google is even expanding their fiber deployments is a plus for the consumer.  I didn't really expect it to be more than a volley across the bow to push the other carriers to expand/start their deployments.  I still can't see it going far or becoming significant, though it might be a great test bed for future services, which is the second reason, why I think they did it.  Very important points, but there's nothing special about their access technology.

No grandeur for FiOS because Vz's push is now with wireless, where they can make better margins and quicker ROI.  Which goes to Brooks7's point, no incentive no love.  Companies do things to either make money, because they are forced to, or to look good; probably need a government program that pushes towards that direction.

As far as oversubscription, my company does a pretty good job making sure that from the access gear (DSLAM, GPON, etc) through the core, to our Tier 1 transit provider is solid and not an issue.  The problems we deal with are trying to the get higher access speeds to more and more people without breaking the ROI models.  Greenfield is simple enough, brownfield is the question.  Even with new bonding and noise coordination techniques it's still a real world challenge.  Even with the current models of triple and quad play ROI models still put break-even out 7 years.

The Gig front (or maybe they should call it 1000M), it's important to push that envelope, it's ok if most people don't understand that now, because the people who can actually make use of the upper speeds will understand.  The majority of the consumer base could be covered with 6 HD w/DVR plus say about 50M internet, sub 300M.  On a lot of other posts I say that the internet will need to be improved to support higher access speeds, sometimes I forget that a lot of consumers have families of 4-6 people, so I've upped this estimate, where I used to say 100M was enough for the majority.

Cheers
brooks7 10/12/2014 | 2:50:05 PM
Re: Giga this Dennis,

I think Google Fiber will be restricted to AT&T and Centurylink Major Cities (maybe 1 or 2 from Frontier) at the most.  That means that we still have a lot of places where we won't see a new competitor.

The question is what will the government do?  We already pay the IOCs to build gold plated networks.  So, I think we need to say what do we do in the smaller spots in the Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers.  My take is (and has been) to mandate the introduction of fiber networks.  The only way we got 100% land line coverage was universal service.  I would say this will be true with very high speed broadband.

seven

 
mendyk 10/12/2014 | 9:59:06 AM
Re: Giga this My point about Google Fiber is that it's an initiative that it introduces a competitive alternative. I don't think that Google will (or wants to) become a network operator on a grand scale. But if the incumbents are going to unilaterally redline service districts, other options for network buildout have to surface. In that context, projects that aren't aligned with a single operator are needed. The duopoly model that we now have in the U.S. is OK, but it could be much better. And re the HoF, you have my vote.
brooks7 10/11/2014 | 11:37:54 AM
Re: Giga this Dennis,

Yes, I agree with your points.  But I want to ask a question about your very last sentence.

As I have posted here, I worked at AFC when we were doing the first installations of FiOS (in fact I left well after the Tellabs purchase).  This year was the 10th anniversary of the installations in Keller.  Which I note, got no fanfare from the crowd here.

So, to my question....why did you write Google Fiber and not FiOS or FTTH?  Now admittedly BPON can not go to Gigabit speeds.  The majority of FiOS is still BPON.  But GPON can.  It would be a provisioning change to up GPON systems to deliver GigE.

I know people here have railed at Verizon for not expanding FiOS anymore.  But I don't see Google doing small towns or FiOS cities.  Is it the fact that FiOS is old hat or do we just all see Google as a potential rival to drive more bandwidth.

No judgement...but we forget that FiOS is bigger than all the other fiber deployments added together.

seven

PS - I know that people laugh or think I am kidding when I say for my time here I should be nominated to the LR Hall of Fame.  But I architected the product that became FiOS.  Where is the love?
mendyk 10/11/2014 | 9:19:14 AM
Re: Giga this seven -- I agree with you on the oversubscription issue. For the most part, there is enough a(or more than enough) access capacity in place to handle traffic loads today and for the next few years at least. But if you accept the assumption that traffic volumes are going to continue to grow at massive rates with no end in sight, at some point the access network will need to be improved. But that aside, gigabit initiatives do introduce an element of competition that spurs incumbent operators to deliver better service. To me, that's what Google Fiber ultimately is all about.
brooks7 10/10/2014 | 7:04:32 PM
Re: Giga this Dennis,

If you don't mind a bit of respectful debate.  

I think that reducing the oversubscription ratios is much more important than upping the bit rate at the access point.  That way all this discussion of bandwidth caps and fast lanes would go away.  

seven

 
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