Who's Ready to Play Broadband?

AT&T is stepping up to the gigabit challenge, throwing down something of a gauntlet, in fact. It looks to be aimed at Google, but I think the US telecom giant is instead challenging a whole other group of folks -- the politicians who lead the cities they want to serve. (See AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros and AT&T's Going to Carolina With 1 Gig.)

What AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is promising is investment in broadband networks that are capable of delivering 1 Gbit/s services into consumer homes, in up to 100 municipalities in the US, across 21 metropolitan areas, with some deployments planned to start this year. This is in addition to those they've already announced.

But within AT&T's press release is this critical nugget, attributed to Lori Lee, senior executive vice president, AT&T Home Solutions: "We're interested in working with communities that appreciate the value of the most advanced technologies, and are willing to encourage investment by offering solid investment cases and policies."

In other words, municipalities that want AT&T to move fast first need to pave the way for that to happen, by reducing or eliminating bureaucratic processes, providing free rights of way to include locating company equipment on municipally-owned land, and even offering perks such as power subsidies and more. The more a city or town can offer, the better the business case looks, and the faster AT&T -- and others in the gigabit race -- will move.

These aren't the kind of things telecom operators have traditionally gotten in the past. In fact, when AT&T first built U-Verse, it had to fight get its large metal boxes known as VRADs accepted in some cities and towns, going so far as to spend extra on landscaping to hide the ugly gear.

As more municipalities see the value of ultra high-speed networks, however, they are more willing to play ball and bend some rules.

Kansas City did this to become Google Fiber Inc. 's first home, and in some ways pioneered what other municipalities may need to do to join the ultra-high speed Internet access game. (See Google Stumbling on Fiber Innovation? and Google Fiber Shifts Into High Gear.)

In fact, I think we have to credit Google with being the real groundbreaker here in reinventing the local access network game. Let's just see if everyone wants to play with these new rules.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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jabailo 4/28/2014 | 7:31:55 PM
Re: Wires? Here's my source article (note to Light Reading -- format your hyperlinks so they're visible!)

Sprint's Saw: Spark to hit 120 Mbps peaks at end of 2014, 180 Mbps peaks at end of 2015 - FierceWireless 

So you are saying that 120 Mbps (or 10Mbps for regular LTE) is the total throughput for the entire tower?

So if 120 Sprint Spark users each use the tower, they only get 1 Mbps simultaneously?

Wow...I'd like to see some specs on that!

And yes, I understand that with fiber (or DSL) each person gets their own "wire" to the CO and back.   However, once there, aren't you sharing from the switch inward to the backbone?

MMQoS 4/28/2014 | 4:36:29 PM
Re: Wires? ja:

I'm just using your cited example of Sprint Spark wireless broadband which you wrote was supported by a single tower and provided up to 120 Mb/s (where did the 180 Mb/s come from?).  At any one time a popular wireless AP can have AT LEAST 120 active sessions and most likely more and requesting b/w.  That means that at any one time, the b/w available to a subscriber node even on a burst basis, can degrade considerably because the aggregate b/w at that tower is still shared amongst the nodes using that AP. 

In your earlier post you were comparing wireless to fiber and I was just highlighting how fiber which is switched as opposed to shared will almost always be better, especially on a constant b/w availablity comparison.

Also using all of the AP b/w for 3 minutes (4 at your earlier number of 120 Mb/s) for your example of Netflix example is essentially a network outage as all other nodes will experience a "network not available" condition for your example of Netflix example.  Just image if you were using the wireless net for an important FaceTime or Skype video connection with your customer.  Sprint would lose customers and most like will not support that much b/w allocation to any one node. 

Mitch Wagner 4/28/2014 | 12:16:02 PM
Re: Who's Ready to Play Broadband brookseven - Sure, I can get Earthlink where I am, for example. I can get dial-up or satellite up to 5 Mbps for $60/mo. Satellite is more than 5x slower and nearly as expensive as Cox/AT&T. 

So, yeah, I suppose that's another competitor if you want to call it that. 
jabailo 4/28/2014 | 11:56:41 AM
Re: Wires? But when you say share it with 120 users, are you describing the bandwidth, or the tower capacity?   Are you saying each tower can only host 120 users who then split the bandwidth?  Couldn't they add more towers...or more equipment per tower?

And at some point, as these speeds become so incredibly fast...the biggest bandwidth hog, a Netflix, becomes trivialized.   According to one blog, a Netflix HD movie is 3600MB and streamed at 3.8Mbps.

But when you've got burstable 180Mbps...suddenly instead of having to be using a channel for the whole 120 minutes, you can download the whole film in 3 minutes!  

So yes, 120 users at a time -- but each only needing 3 minutes for the most bandwidth intensive activity!
brookseven 4/28/2014 | 9:54:07 AM
Re: Who's Ready to Play Broadband Mitch,

Earthlink is available everywhere in the US essentially.

That is 3 right there.


MMQoS 4/28/2014 | 3:11:43 AM
Re: Wires? ja:

Your 120Mb/s wireless service may sound great until you understand that b/w number is the max available bandwidth and that at some/many time(s) you will have to share it with 120 users.  Wireless at this time and in the near future, is a shared network as opposed to most wireline (switched) nets and while it may seem enticing and I am a true fan of mobility, when everybody wants to have access to the network at the same time, be ready to cut that 120 Mb/s pie in small slices and wait.  You may become Tom Thumb while waiting.

If you don't believe go study the architecture of wireless nets and in the same document(s)  read up on wireless bit error rates (BER) and what it does to HD video.

Mitch Wagner 4/28/2014 | 12:11:16 AM
Re: Who's Ready to Play Broadband brookseven - The country that has more than three wireline BB carriers available to most of the population? I'm going to say the UK?
Mitch Wagner 4/28/2014 | 12:06:33 AM
Re: Who's Ready to Play Broadband Hard to see how it can get much higher than it already is -- over 70 percent of households have it
jabailo 4/26/2014 | 3:38:09 PM
Wires? 1G sounds great...however, Sprint Spark wireless broadband is coming in with speeds of 120Mpbs and a secondary upgrade of 180Mbps.

Yes, that's 1/5th of the optical network -- but at the same time it's several multiples of many people's current broadband.

And it's riding on a single antenna versus having to lay, and maintain miles and miles of fiber in the streets!

And with wireless, you can have one connection -- weather at home, or in your car, or on a bus or in a restaurant.   

With wireless broadband, and say a single person who can only be in one place at a time, your phone could be your mobile Internet but also your home router for larger screens and your in-car entertainment system (with a cradle).

I mean shoot -- my Virgin Mobile phone (the use the Sprint network) has LTE -- which I can't use because I'm not in their network area...but I was at a place where the 4G light came on and I did a speed test and I was getting 10Mbps and 50ms pings.   

I could work with that!  With an unlimited data plan, and some hotspot software, my phone could just as well be my router at home for Netflix at 10Mbps.   50ms is on the edge for real time gaming...yes, but passable (does anyone know if there's a theorectical limit to latency for wireless broadband?   My Clear Wimax is also 50ms).

Susan Fourtané 4/26/2014 | 7:54:37 AM
Re: Who's Ready to Play Broadband Mitch, 

"Broadband is a particularly big deal if you work from a home office, even moreso in a rural area where you can't just hop down to a coffeeshop or co-working space."

Indeed. As working from a home office becomes more common the demand for broadband is going to become even higher. 

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