Goals: Innovation, Reliability, Connectivity

Speeds are rising, and more devices  means more complexity

ANAHEIM, Calif, — With broadband speeds doubling every two years, operators need to focus on innovation, network reliability and connectivity to drive results, experts said at The Independent Show.

CableLabs chief operating officer Chris Lammers noted that, according to Nielsen’s Law, high-end users’ bandwidth needs will grow by 50% every two years. With that in mind, Lammers said ultimate speeds will rise from 1 Gigabit per second in 2016-17 to 10 Gbps by 2023 and 100 Gbps by 2029.

Tom Whitaker at the Independent Show

Tom Whitaker

Operators need to ensure their networks are up to snuff to deliver higher speeds and to know who their competition really is, Shentel senior vice president of cable Tom Whitaker said. While 5G wireless is getting a lot of press, in many cases the technology isn’t economically feasible for small communities.

Whitaker pointed to a Verizon Communications 5G deployment in Houston that cost the telco about $15.50 per covered point of presence (POP). In a smaller market, such as Lexington, Va., 5G could cost $55 per covered POP.

“Maybe 4G is a better option, a better long-term solution for many wireless networks in most of the small towns where we do business,” Whitaker said. “So, I wouldn’t get all jacked up about 5G unless it’s in a bigger town.”

Deploying fiber also has a halo effect on the entire company, said TDS Telecom director of product management and development Scott Schultz. While TDS does better in areas where it has deployed fiber, the halo the network gets from offering the service extends to areas it hasn’t upgraded yet. Take rates for copper-based services increased about 9% in neighborhoods that haven’t gotten the full fiber treatment yet, Schultz said.

“Even when you don’t have fiber to add, it works,” Schultz said.