More bandwidth sounds better, but keep the debate grounded in reality

Julie Kunstler, Principal Analyst, Components

Over the past several weeks, I have been analyzing future bandwidth needs for residential subscribers, and my conclusions are fuzzy at best.

I was hoping for clarity from OSA’s Executive Forum panel, The Future of Broadband Access Networks: Towards 1Gbps and Beyond, which took place on Monday March 18 in parallel with OFC/NFOEC.

Panelists included Milo Medin, VP of Google Access Services; Ed Harstead, Leader at the Technology Excellence Center and CTO of Alcatel-Lucent’s Fixed Networks Division; and myself.

The panelists presented their solutions for broadband access. First we have Google Fiber – a 1Gbps symmetrical fiber-optic network for homes, businesses, and public institutions in Kansas City. The service is up and running, and early indicators show strong customer satisfaction.

Then we have Alcatel-Lucent’s bandwidth forecast model. The model, described in the November 2012 IEEE Communications Magazine and briefly presented by Harstead at the panel, provides a thorough framework of bit rates required for video transport, encompassing UHD formats, simultaneously streaming videos into the home onto multiple devices and streaming mixes. The conclusion is that TDM PON is adequate for meeting future bandwidth requirements.

Debate around future bandwidth requirements will continue, and more always sounds better. But the discussion often misses the real-world realities regarding cost, operational complexities, existing infrastructure, density of premises, and network deployment scale.

Broadband access implies large-scale broadband deployment for the masses. I want to be included in the masses, and I don’t want to move to Kansas City.

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