Frontier Fast Tracks Gig Plans With G.Fast

No doubt eager to share some positive news after a dismal earnings report earlier in the month, Frontier is announcing its first G.fast deployment this morning; a rollout that targets multi-dwelling units in Connecticut with the aim of delivering gigabit-speed broadband and IPTV services.

The move is a milestone in part because copper-based G.fast technology hasn't been tremendously popular in the US. Much of the country's last-mile broadband infrastructure is based on hybrid fiber-coaxial networks, and a significant portion of copper networks have already been phased out in favor of fiber-to-the-home or wireless alternatives. However, G.fast is gaining fans in the copper-wired MDU market, where telco operators are loathe to pull fiber to every unit in a multi-tenanted building. The technology works by combining short copper network loops with vectoring to cancel out signal interference between copper lines.

In the US, CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) so far claims the largest G.fast deployment with a rollout to hundreds of MDU locations in Wisconsin. Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN) has also used the technology in Nebraska, and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) hopes to implement G.fast commercially later this year. (See CenturyLink Plants G.fast Flag With Calix and AT&T Wants OCP to Consider uCPE Spec.)

For Frontier Communications Corp. (NYSE: FTR)'s Connecticut deployment, the telco is partnering with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), using a solution that reportedly includes automated management capabilities and simplified provisioning options. Nokia notes that its G.fast product is also "compliant with NetConf and Yang models," meaning that it supports industry-standard network configuration technologies.

Other major G.fast vendors in the market include Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN), Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. .

For more fixed broadband market coverage and insights, check out our dedicated gigabit/broadband content channel here on Light Reading.

Frontier has not had an easy time of it lately, contending with difficulties in its takeover of several Verizon Fios markets, significant customer churn and plunging revenues. Interestingly, the company had talked earlier this year about the potential for launching a new streaming video service to attract and retain customers. However, there was no mention of such a plan in the most recent earnings call. (See Frontier Cuts Dividend, Seeks Salvation .)

The reference to new IPTV services in conjunction with the G.fast announcement is perhaps a sign that Frontier hasn't abandoned its streaming video ambitions, although what any new video service might look like remains a mystery. Frontier could launch its own streaming service, license one of the existing OTT options on the market, or possibly even partner with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), which plans to introduce a next-generation IPTV service later this year before licensing it out to other operators. (See This Is the New Fios TV From Verizon.)

In the meantime, the G.fast rollout in Connecticut will at least help Frontier compete more effectively in the broadband sector, enabling the company to market gigabit speeds that rival fiber-based Internet services.

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

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