Gigabit Internet is drawing significant interest as Google Fiber deploys 1Gbit/s broadband service and municipalities seek to become Gigabit Cities. Publicity surrounding Google Fiber's network has raised expectations that Gigabit Internet is a panacea that will raise America's standing in international broadband rankings and cure its ills in education, healthcare, and other fields.
The perceived benefits, whether they come to pass or not, are putting pressure on cable operators to increase their Internet speeds, according to the new Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, "Fast & Furious: Cable Counters Google Gigabit Salvo." The report analyzes whether Gigabit Internet is necessary, the broadband competition in the marketplace, Google Fiber's service, and cable's high-speed Internet developments.
Cable providers have been driving toward faster Internet speeds, but the competitive pressure posed by Google Fiber means they cannot take their foot off the gas, according to the report. "Google Fiber is a catalyst," says John Chapman, CTO, cable access business unit, Cisco. While MSOs do not have to engage in costly rebuilds of their existing hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) architecture, they will need to steadily invest in broadband technology, the report says.
MSOs already provide dedicated-fiber, multi-gigabit Metro Ethernet connections for schools, healthcare networks, and enterprises that are better suited for such speeds than residences, the report says. For the residential market, MSOs are raising access speeds primarily with DOCSIS 3.0 (D3) technologies while preparing for DOCSIS 3.1 (D3.1), which will enable Gigabit-level speeds on HFC plant.
Google Fiber is rolling out in Kansas City-area "Fiberhoods" in Provo, Utah, and plans to deploy in Austin, Texas. Using its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network, Google Fiber provides 1Gbit/s symmetrical service for only $70/month to residences. It also offers a traditional cable TV lineup and a low-end data service at 5 Mbit/s down, 1 Mbit/s up.
Meanwhile, the FCC has set a policy goal of establishing a Gigabit City in each state by 2015. Many municipalities are looking at Gigabit Internet service as a path toward better education and healthcare.
The Heavy Reading report explores the Gigabit Internet trend and its implications for cable operators and suppliers. It includes profiles of seven suppliers that support advances in cable's high-speed Internet residential infrastructure.
The cable industry has many broadband weapons in its arsenal. Industry efforts to utilize D3/3.1, node splitting, deep fiber, and optical networking promise to push Internet speeds to 1 Gbit/s and beyond, the report says. While cable is deploying more FTTH in greenfield areas, technology experts believe HFC plant and DOCSIS will remain vibrant and will maintain cable's high-speed growth for years to come.
— Craig Leddy, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Insider
"Fast & Furious: Cable Counters Google Gigabit Salvo," a 15-page report, is available as part of an annual single-user subscription (six issues) to Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/cable.