Wired, Wireless, Digital Opportunity Fund – What’s Next for Broadband

It seems that every trade journal has an update on Broadband Stimulus Funds. But what does all this mean?

As we move through the various stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we keep hearing about broadband connectivity. The scramble for bandwidth continues, and those living in bandwidth-rich areas have a completely different outlook than those who do not. We know that great connectivity is key to a community’s ability to attract and retain businesses and grow the education system. There are many studies on the benefits of reliable broadband service, and if you work from home with poor internet service you will readily appreciate the advantages of stable high-capacity connectivity. The need for high capacity and affordable broadband service will only increase. So how do we meet this need in a timely and economical fashion?

Wired services take time to build, they are costly, and they are disruptive until fully completed. Wireless (cellular and Wi-Fi) service build outs can occur quicker, but they often require fiber to support the macro/micro cells or Wi-Fi hotspots. To improve connectivity, extensive coordination, and close attention to how funds are spent are both needed. As funding programs are put in place, federal, state, and local governments will facilitate the build out.

The best approach is a fully-wired network that reaches homes and businesses with at least 1 Gbps per location. The problem with this requirement is that build outs will take time and cost billions of dollars. Consequently, a combination of wired and wireless solutions will be the shortest path to enhanced connectivity.

Passive Optical Networks (PON, G-PON, XGS-PON, 10GEPON, and FTTx), Remote PHY/ Distributed Access Architecture (DAA), Course or Dense Wave-Division Multiplexing (CWDM, DWDM, xWDM), Wireless, Wi-Fi, and cellular (LTE, 5G, 6G) will all play a part in the last mile solution.

Supporting broadband distribution networks will require robust metro, long-haul, and content distribution solutions.  Strong network systems are required to provide increased capacity at a moment’s notice.

Optical technology is keeping pace with 100G to 400G pluggable optics, expanded PON and DAA technology, and advanced wireless options. The real question is — will the last mile “broadband” networks get deployed fast enough to keep the end user satisfied?

Additional broadband stimulus funding, commitments for reinvestment from major service providers, and surging demand for municipal fiber deployments will greatly expand the market.

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