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Gigabit This, Google Fiber!

Craig Leddy
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Craig Leddy
10/14/2013
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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.

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MarkC73
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MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/21/2013 | 6:23:18 AM
Re: Sustained 1Gb/s? Or limited to just a few bursts a day?
I'd be pretty surprised if anyone is doing active gigabit for residential customers in NA, with PON and higher speed variants, the splits are configurable as others have mentioned, so less splits means more average bandwidth per customer.

When direct point to point gigabit becomes necessary it would still most likely still be done via an access device, then aggregated to Nx10Gig ports on your provider edge routers and I assume eventually 100Gig in the future given the density and traffic require it.  To get to the customer any means can be used, DWDM or straight fiber.  But remember cost per customer is always the factor, ROI, so expect cheaper electronics and more passive devices as you get into the access network.

Google did this to push 2 things.  One, the development of gigabit applications and two, push the service providers to move higher speeds to the home.  I'd be very surprised if Google was ever interested in the service provider space, too capital heavy and too low margins.  Better to back net neutrality, SLAs and have consumer buy dumb pipes from the carriers.  But first the pipes have to be there.

The other thing to consider is what content is there to ingest at the home at 1 Gig?  I've got 50M, and the internet is already slowing me down, sure if I was aggregating my neighbors collectively, but just myself, most sites on the internet won't let me download that quickly, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, just saying that 50M per person in a household today is good for 90% of the typical needs including watching HD streams.  I guess one could argue peer to peer traffic, but I doubt that will be a main consideration to those that will be offering the services.

Just my opinion.

Another thing that kind of surprised me was no one mentioned much when ATT made a Gigabit anouncement early this month.
myhui
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myhui,
User Rank: Moderator
10/17/2013 | 7:26:09 PM
Re: Sustained 1Gb/s? Or limited to just a few bursts a day?
Well, sure, that point of congestion is unavoidable, unless each client's signal is terminated by an electronic switch with a huge ingress buffer, and Google is not about to do something terribly expensive like that.

Is some other company planning on doing that? Of providing each client a port at an edge router? If so, you have to run each client's uplink on a different wavelength on that shared fiber, and then the edge router will send all wavelengths on that fiber into the switch fabric.
victorblake
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victorblake,
User Rank: Lightning
10/17/2013 | 11:13:47 AM
Wny would they be interested in PON ?
Cisco has zero motivation to be interested in PON. With active Ethernet they sell two ports for every (in access or in enterprise -- it mattes not) for each customer or (if enterprise) employee or terminal/location. With PON the number of ports sold is N+1 for every N=16 to 32 or perhaps 64 terminal locations or customers.

(Formula is N=# of customers; R=ONU/OLT ratio; Port count = N + CEILING[N/R] X 3)

That's like expecting a battery company to make longer lasting batteries. What's the incentive?  It cuts down on sales!!!!!


No, the innovations will come from competitors as they always have.

 

 
derac7020
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derac7020,
User Rank: Lightning
10/17/2013 | 10:42:08 AM
Re: Sustained 1Gb/s? Or limited to just a few bursts a day?
It's always the argument... active or passive architectures.. in these deployments.   Cisco has never believed in PON technology and carries a big stick in the industry so they sway people's decisions.   A good EPON with DBA upstream can service residential customers easily at a very reasonable price but then money is not an issue for Google.   Anyway, thanks for the info.   I assummed it was an active network but wasn't sure.  
victorblake
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victorblake,
User Rank: Lightning
10/17/2013 | 10:32:37 AM
Re: Sustained 1Gb/s? Or limited to just a few bursts a day?
It's point to point (ala active Ethernet) w/ Cisco Cat Ethernet switches. Certainly GigE access to the switch. But obviously they do not have northbound capacity equal to that. They've just changed where the oversubscription is. Instead of oversubscription on the access network (shared as in pon or cable) they've oversubscriped their aggregation portion of the network and obviously Internet access as well.


From a practical perspective it doesn't exactly make sense why, for example, they would use ptp instead of say ptmp with 10GEPON with 10 ONU's on a PON -- you would even in practice get about 90% + the same thing. If you read their slide deck they say they evaluated those options and didn't consider them mature, but also there is a hint that for example ptp would give you easiest upgrade path to say 10G or 100G.


PTP is prohibitively construction expensive. It's like saying we will have a train from every house to a central station instead of passing down the road (aka shared). It's clearly show and tell. The only place where PTP can be fully justified (in terms of construction cost) is where the demand for (usually business services) is ahead of the shared technology capabilities. So if you have customers that need say 4G or more, clearly they may need 10 in the future and you're on the edge of what PONs can do today (per ONU) so yes PTP there.


Remember their Mountain View WiFi network ? Essentially abandoned by Google. Not exactly considered a high quality network operation....
derac7020
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derac7020,
User Rank: Lightning
10/17/2013 | 10:23:27 AM
Re: Sustained 1Gb/s? Or limited to just a few bursts a day?
What network architecture is Google using [pt-pt Ethernet w/active elements in field, xPON, ??] such that they need 'new and untested' HW and SW.   People have been doing this for a while now and the only real restriction is money.   If it wasn't VZ would have their whole footprint covered with fiber by now.  I applaud Google for moving ahead with their research project but are they really plowing new ground technically ?  Not being a wise guy here..  are they really doing something differently ?
derac7020
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derac7020,
User Rank: Lightning
10/17/2013 | 10:17:59 AM
Re: Back to the business case
To be honest as a typical residential user I don't know if I'd spring for the $70/mon for something I'll never use.   I'd try to free service [a very nice price] for a while and see if it usable.   I don't stream video [download and replay instead] so the extra capacity isn't worth it for me.   
brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/17/2013 | 9:29:46 AM
Re: Sustained 1Gb/s? Or limited to just a few bursts a day?
The thing you miss about WDM-PON is that it still has a concentrated uplink where in most PON systems is the actual point of first congestion (the uplink out of the OLT).

Depending on what that link is and how many users share it then you end up with long bursts or not.  If 1000 users share a 1G uplink on a 1G service, then you still will see bursts over the long term.

seven

 
myhui
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myhui,
User Rank: Moderator
10/17/2013 | 12:34:19 AM
Re: Sustained 1Gb/s? Or limited to just a few bursts a day?
This paper from 9/6/2010

http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/research.google.com/en/us/pubs/archive/36936.pdf

promotes WDM-PON as the preferred solution for Google Fiber.

WDM-PON uses shared access on each wavelength, and then they run multiple wavelengths on one fiber. That certainly makes a lot of bandwidth available to a large number of households.
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
10/16/2013 | 5:52:27 PM
Re: Sustained 1Gb/s? Or limited to just a few bursts a day?
Good points, David. This is, after all, still a pilot project for Google Fiber. We shouldn't be too hasty to judge what they're doing yet, although it's awful lot of fun to do so, isn't it?
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