Gigabit Cities

Gigabites: New Map Pinpoints 500+ Gig Sites

TGIF. In today's edition of Gigabites, a new map of global gigabit deployments makes its debut; a pole attachment fight threatens gigabit action in Nashville; the mayor of Chattanooga, Tenn., gets questioned about the employment benefits of municipal broadband; and more.

  • Broadband maps are tricky because service providers are notoriously protective of deployment specifics. However, testing and measurement firm Viavi Solutions Inc. is attempting to shed a little more light on the broadband landscape with a new database and mapping tool highlighting where companies offer gigabit service around the world. Through its Gigabit Monitor site, Viavi shows where gigabit momentum is building (hint: not in Russia) and what technologies are enabling gigabit service.

    Viavi's findings are illuminating, but they're also not complete. As the company fully discloses, its database is only compiled from publicly available data and is not guaranteed in any way. A quick review found several gigabit deployments not cited on the Viavi map. These include Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s three DOCSIS 3.1-enabled gigabit markets, and deployments by both AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Google Fiber Inc. in Charlotte, N.C.

    From the data Viavi has collected, North America is by far the leading continent for gigabit broadband with 61% of total sites listed, while Europe is second with 24%. Fiber is the most common supporting technology for gigabit deployments with an 85% share. Yet wireless gigabit service is already beginning to make inroads with 3% of gigabit deployments on the Viavi map based on LTE-A.

  • For more gigabit coverage and insights, check out our dedicated Gigabit/Broadband content channel here on Light Reading.

  • From tricky to sticky, a Google Fiber gigabit deployment in Nashville appears to be under threat as arguments over pole attachment rules continue. According to DSLReports, Google Fiber says it will consider walking away from Nashville if the pole attachment issue isn't resolved. To recap the situation, Google Fiber has been fighting for easier access to utility poles for its network build-outs, but incumbent operators have tried to block changes with arguments about union rules and the potential for a greater number of service outages. So far, the issue has surfaced in both Nashville and Louisville, Ken. (See Gigabites: Google Fiber Fights for Pole Position.)

  • Google Fiber isn't he only one stirring up controversy in the gigabit world. After Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke cited the benefits to employment of the city's gigabit broadband service, Dr. George S. Ford, the chief economist for the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies, countered in an op-ed this week by pointing out that national unemployment rates have fallen at about the same rate as Chattanooga's, suggesting that any correlation with gigabit service is difficult to prove. The debate over whether municipalities should run their own broadband networks continues to be a heated one, particularly after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lost in court over the right to prevent states from blocking municipal providers like Chattanooga's EPB Fiber Optics from expanding service to nearby regions. (See Is Wheeler's FCC Legacy Now in Doubt?)

  • Meanwhile, gigabit deployments continued elsewhere this week with new markets announced by both AT&T and Comcast. AT&T introduced its GigaPower service to Cleveland and Sacramento. And Comcast announced its third DOCSIS 3.1 market, bringing D3.1-powered gigabit service to Chicago following earlier launches in Atlanta and Nashville. (See Slow Roll Builds for DOCSIS 3.1.)

    — Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

  • GlobalPu34221 8/22/2016 | 3:48:09 PM
    Re: Appreciate the review, and agree with the critiques Also can someone help me figure out how to change my username so it doesn't start with GlobalPu?

    GlobalPu34221 8/22/2016 | 3:47:19 PM
    Appreciate the review, and agree with the critiques Thank you for reviewing the Gigabit Monitor. I completely agree with your critiques, and we are already working to address those and ones we have heard elsewhere, because universally we've heard that this is a valuable resource that could be made better. In fact, I'm quite excited to share where this is going next!

    The original purpose of this database was to shine a light on the accelerated pace of gigabit deployments worldwide and across technologies. While it's indicative of an improved experience for consumers, it's also a sign that the industry needs to be prepared to support large leaps in bandwidth in every segment of the network, in order to ensure that the customer gets the intended experience.

    Amit Malhotra

    Viavi Solutions
    COO25462 8/22/2016 | 11:48:17 AM
    Terrific Gigabites update Mari! Thanks for sharing the Viavi map. I immediately identified the missing Charlotte ISPs (Google Fiber/AT&T) as well, but overall this is an interesting tool.

    I can't help but see a resemblance between Google Fiber/incumbants, and Uber/incumbants. Distruption of the status quo is usually met with resistance.


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