Leading Lights 2017 Finalists: Most Innovative Gigabit Ultra-Broadband Service

The promise of gigabit and multi-gigabit broadband services is fueling infrastructure investments and spurring innovative new technologies in the access network arena. Among the many gigabit services now available around the world, however, some deployments stand out either because of their positive impact on a community, or because of technical innovations that made cost-effective implementation possible.

It's the organizations behind these deployments that are worthy of consideration for a Leading Lights award, and it's these companies and communities that have made our shortlist for Most Innovative Gigabit Ultra-Broadband Service.

Continue reading for more information on this year's finalists. Winners for all of the Leading Lights categories will be announced at the Leading Lights Awards Dinner on Monday, May 15, at Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas. The following day will mark the start of this year's Big Communications Event.

You're invited to attend Light Reading's Big Communications Event -- the ONE event that delivers context and clarity to the software-driven future. There's still time to register and communications service providers get in free.

Walsh – Walsh community 10-gigabit broadband service
The new community of Walsh in Fort Worth, Texas has decided that broadband access should be viewed as a necessary utility, as critical to its residents as water, gas and electricity services. With that decision in mind, the community has begun to build out the necessary infrastructure to deliver Internet speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s to neighborhood homes, businesses and anchor institutions.

Through a partnership with Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN), Walsh plans to offer 2-gigabit service to new residents later this year, with the costs fully covered in homeowners' association dues and an option on the table to upgrade to 10-gig speeds. Equally important, one of the first buildings to receive 10-gig service will be the newly developed Aledo ISD elementary school set to open in the fall. Further investing in the local education system, Walsh plans to build as many as eight elementary schools in the region, all with access to 10-gig broadband.

It's the commitment to broadband in education that earns Walsh a top spot among Leading Lights finalists. For more on the technical side, see these relevant posts on Adtran's broadband solutions.

Comcast Business – Business Internet 1 Gig over DOCSIS
As of early 2017, Comcast Business has launched DOCSIS-3.1-powered gigabit services to business customers in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Nashville, with plans to expand across the majority of its service footprint within the next two years.

What makes the Comcast deployments innovative is the fact that they mark some of the earliest D3.1 rollouts and give the cable company the ability to deliver gigabit-speed service over legacy hybrid fiber-coaxial infrastructure. The Comcast network includes more than 600,000 miles of coax cabling, and the operator's service area spans 39 states plus the District of Columbia.

SK Telecom/SK Broadband – 10-gigabit next-gen PON service
SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) is in the middle of a network upgrade that will deliver broadband speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second to customers. Using Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)'s universal PON solution, the operator is combining GPON, XGS-PON and TWDM-PON technologies to build a range of offerings that start at 1 Gbit/s and go up from there.

The GPON portion of the solution delivers speeds up to 2 Gbit/s, while XGS-PON technology delivers up to 10 Gbit/s symmetrical speeds. TWDM-PON will ultimately provide speeds up to 40 Gbit/s, and to date SK Telecom has demonstrated speeds in the access network all the way up to 52 Gbit/s using the combination of PON technologies on Nokia's universal platform. SK Telecom plans to continue transforming its network with the aim of offering speeds up to 10 Gbit/s to all customers in the future. For more on the Nokia platform, see the posts below.

Starman Eesti AS – 10-gigabit EPON service
Starman in Estonia is gradually shifting many of its cable customers away from DOCSIS-powered hybrid coaxial-fiber networks and toward fiber-to-the-home infrastructure. After testing Nokia's 10-gigabit EPON solution last summer, the operator started deploying the technology commercially this year. Starman delivered 1-gigabit service to its first customers on the EPON platform within the last month and plans to accelerate further rollouts beginning in June and July, with some early adopters eligible for speeds up to 10 Gbit/s.

What's innovative about the Starman deployment is that it's the first 10-gig-capable service in Europe. The Nokia solution will also let Starman gradually upgrade its infrastructure across its footprint, moving customers from DOCSIS service to 2.5-gigabit "Turbo EPON" and eventually to 10-gigabit EPON.

Starman has concluded that a phased transition to FTTH technology is more cost-effective than continuing to invest in DOCSIS platforms, and the company's goal is to convert about 50,000 customers, or 40% of its customer base, to EPON-powered FTTH service over the next five years.

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

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