Bridging the Digital Divide Part 1
How do telcos, cable operators, fiber providers, wireless operators, utilities, municipalities and other broadband players aim to close the Digital Divide? What kinds of networks are operators and vendors looking to build, adapt and/or expand? How much are they planning to leverage public subsidies? What are the biggest challenges they face in wiring unserved regions, and how can they meet them?
Seeking to address these and other related issues, Heavy Reading teamed up with four leading tech suppliers to conduct a comprehensive study about ways to bridge the Digital Divide. In this series of four sponsored blog posts, we present key study highlights, analyze the findings and discuss the implications. We also draw some conclusions about what the findings mean for the drive to close the Digital Divide around the world.
Choosing CPE suppliers
A critical question that the study sought to answer was: What are the most important criteria in selecting an equipment supplier? Survey participants were allowed to pick two choices.
Slightly more than half of operators (52%) wanted a vendor that can offer an end-to-end solution, making that the lead choice. Lowest cost came in a strong second, attracting votes from 45% of the sample. No other choice came close, as depicted in the chart below.
These findings suggest that operators would ideally like to work with one uber vendor that can supply the whole ecosystem in terms of devices: optical line terminal (OLT), optical network terminal (ONT), and gateway/extender. Thus, it should be good news for larger vendors offering comprehensive solutions that address the full ecosystem, not just separate individual elements. But it is also good news for vendors with lower priced equipment.
How broadband access vendors can provide better support
Another section of the Heavy Reading study examined the role of vendor support for last-mile broadband infrastructure projects to close the Digital Divide. The survey sought to determine what kind of support service providers need from their vendors, where they need help the most, and how much time is involved.
Notably, the study asked operators how broadband access vendors can provide greater support for broadband builds. Respondents could choose as many as five different options from the list.
Not all that surprisingly, the lead choice that emerged was more competitively priced hardware. A solid two-thirds of operators (67%) picked that method as a critical way to provide them with better support, as shown in the graph below.
So, operators have a very good idea of the kind of vendor support they could use for carrying out last-mile broadband projects. Now the big question is: How well can suppliers meet those expectations?
Where help is needed most for last-mile broadband projects
Where do service providers need help the most from equipment and software vendors for broadband buildouts? The next survey question sought to discern the specific areas that operators have identified for help, permitting respondents to make up to three selections.
Reducing capital costs topped the list here, garnering votes from nearly one-half of survey participants (48%). Close behind in second place was reducing network operating expenses, which drew votes from 45% of respondents. Lumping the two lead choices together, it's clear that operators are seeking the most assistance from equipment and software vendors in cutting costs.
Other areas also scored fairly high, as depicted in the chart below. Both reducing network deployment time and reducing network deployment labor costs requirements attracted votes from about one-third of respondents, reaching 34% and 33%, respectively.
That wraps up the first set of key results from the Digital Divide study. For a free copy of "Bridging the Digital Divide," the Heavy Reading white paper detailing all the study results, please click here.
This blog is sponsored by Radisys.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading