Gigabit This, Google Fiber!

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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Carol Wilson 10/14/2013 | 10:08:01 AM
Back to the business case At the risk of sounding like a nag on this topic, Craig, how is cable planning to profit from its gigabit services to consumers - or are the business users expected to pay the freight that cost-justifies the network buildout?
derac7020 10/14/2013 | 10:55:34 AM
How may signing up for gigabit Ethernet ? Just curious what the take rate for the gigabit service ?  At $70/mon its a steal if you need gigabit but way too much if you're the standard residential customer.   I guess since its bundled with the TV service its difficult to discern.    For $300 it seems it worth getting the free internet service and getting your TV from another provider [satellite for example].   I can't find a location that describes their TV offerings and how many are in HD.  
myhui 10/14/2013 | 12:07:00 PM
Sustained 1Gb/s? Or limited to just a few bursts a day? I can run a sizable business on a sustained 1Gb/s symmetrical link.

I doubt the terms of service really guarantees that.
craigleddy 10/14/2013 | 6:24:42 PM
Re: Back to the business case Cable operators are looking to businesses and other institutions as the main customers for fiber network Gigabit services. They're better suited for Gigabit speeds than residences are at this point. Schools can use federal E-rate funds to pay for their broadband services.    
craigleddy 10/14/2013 | 6:28:24 PM
Re: How may signing up for gigabit Ethernet ? Good question. Google Fiber has not disclosed its take rates. You can find more information about their TV lineup here: https://fiber.google.com/cities/kansascity/channels/

albreznick 10/14/2013 | 7:45:07 PM
Re: How may signing up for gigabit Ethernet ? Pretty interesting that they haven't done so yet. I suspect their take rate is still in the single-digit percentages or else they would have told us by now. Even the most successful overbuilders struggle to reach the 20 percent penetration mark. So it's going to take a lot for Google Fiber to appear successful in KC and elsewhere.
albreznick 10/14/2013 | 7:46:59 PM
Re: Back to the business case It's going to be almost all businesses for a while, I'll bet, except for a few hardy early adopters and some very avid gamers. Even at $70 or $80 a month, it's tough to see who else wants or needs that much bandwidth right now.  
GeoTel 10/15/2013 | 1:26:29 PM
Possibilities It will be interesting to see how having readily available fiber optics will transform America. Currently most people are on copper, which is so limited. Fiber is capable of speeds up to 100 GigE and some people estimate that will reach 400 GigE. While we don't exactly know where this will go, the potential is really exciting. 
mendyk 10/15/2013 | 3:18:57 PM
Re: Possibilities We'll be able to disagree with one another much faster thanks to fiber. And Springsteen will have to rewrite his song to "57 Thousand Channels (And Nothin' On)."
davidhoffman 10/15/2013 | 5:47:05 PM
Re: Back to the business case If 2014 Corvettes cost only $20,000 instead of $80,000, a lot more people would buy them, because they want them much more than the V-6 Mustang they can get for $20,000.  They do not necessarily need the Corvette, but they do want it.   The same is true for internet data transfer rates.  Very few people need data transfer rates above 100Mbps symmetrical, but a lot of people would suscribe to 1Gbps symmetrical if it was as inexpensive as what Google Fiber is charging for it. I do not need Godiva Chocolate, but if I have some extra money I might get some, because I want it more compared to my want for Hershey's Chocolate. 
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