Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber

Pablo Valerio, International Business & IT Consultant | 7/1/2013 | 22 comments

Pablo Valerio
Many years ago the United States made a historical commitment to ensure that all Americans have access to high-quality, reasonably priced communications. At the time the US national phone system was a technological marvel and the envy of the world.

Last year I wrote an article about the ongoing trend to deregulate the fixed-line requirements in many states. Intense industry lobbying has resulted in new legislation removing oversight of telecom in 20 states.

Having access to a telephone line has been considered for years a basic right for all, and regulations in every state made sure that right was exercisable. Now having access to high-quality Internet service is considered to be at the same level -- but the rules are different. While competition in big cities and metropolitan areas is bringing prices down and providing new, faster services to customers, the vast majority of Americans do not have reliable broadband Internet services like cable and fiber.

This is extremely critical for businesses. Today, 10 years since the first commercial fiber rollout, only 36.1 percent of businesses enjoy that technology. While the industry claims that the fiber gap is closing, the rate of rollout and adoption is slowing. Hunter Newby, CEO of Allied Fiber, recently told an audience in Las Vegas: “That means in [the last] eight years, we have increased only 26 percent. At that pace, in 16 years, we will be... on the same level that Singapore, South Korea, and Japan are on today. That is not so good. Not so good.”

And rollout for commercial and consumer fiber is not the only issue. Fiber is the backbone for 4G services, such as LTE, to deliver the promised speeds. Newby estimates that less than 30 percent of the current antennae are connected via high-speed fiber, thus limiting the ability to deliver the promised speeds. If a few hundred LTE connections are being served by an antennae group, and that is connected by cable or microwave, the resulting speeds will not be faster than current 3G or HDSPA.

Meanwhile the US is falling behind in broadband adoption. While broadband access, using DSL, was over 5 percent in 2002, four times the penetration of the UK, now the US penetration is 20 percent lower. And the broadband adoption by consumers has stopped in past three years, actually losing a point in 2012.

Eliminating oversight and allowing more competition could be a good thing, but state legislators and governments need to guarantee availability of quality Internet service to all residents. If the incumbent telecom, the one providing fixed-line access, is not interested in bringing high-speed fiber to certain areas, governments should open the market to others, eliminate some barriers for competition, and also allocate some funds to help with the initial rollout. Without a real plan to make sure this technology is available to everyone, the digital gap will widen as the US falls further and further behind Asia and Europe.

Fifty years ago the basic communication device was a landline phone. Today it's high-speed Internet, and that means a fiber connection. Some telecoms are arguing that minimal wireless connections are enough; but that's not true. State legislators need to talk to real people and businesses using those services and determine the best way to ensure their access to the best technologies.

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SunitaT   Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber   7/28/2013 4:54:26 AM
Re : Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber
In my opinion deploying of fiber is not that tough or expensive. US Government should take necessary steps to deploy fiber to get 4G and LTE services.
kstaron   Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber   7/25/2013 6:39:19 PM
I had no idea we were so far behind in our infrastructure. If I had to choose at this point I'd rather go without phone than go without internet. I switched by internet provider when my service got disrupted and they quoted me two weeks before they could send a technician. Their competitor offer to hook up their internet the next day.
Technocrat   Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber   7/7/2013 9:52:08 PM
Re: Crawford's the one
Who in the U.S. is championing fiber ?  Who is championing infrastructure build out ? 

I know who isn't, the telecoms themselves.
eethtworkz   Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber   7/4/2013 2:25:02 AM
Re: Wrong Technical Choices and CompaSprisons don't Help matters

I agree wholeheartedly(you need Fiber at the Tower's end) to get the High Speed stuff going;But you can't build Fiber everywhere effectively.

I know a lot of Consumers in Rural Areas in the US;who even today prefer Satellite Internet over Wireline Internet because Speeds are so slow(in those rural areas).

You do need significant levels of convergence of interests(of Lobbyists,Vendors,Providers and Regulators) to achieve Universal Broadband in the US.

This is'nt like in puny countries like Singapore or South Korea where practically everyone has Super-High Speed Internet access.


eethtworkz   Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber   7/4/2013 2:18:23 AM
Re: Wrong Technical Choices and Comparisons don't Help matters

I doubt it.

Just look at the way Regulations work in the US today(too messy) with too many competitive factors at play involved.

For Fiber development to Genuinely mature here we need to see More ROI/Profits for the Vendors/Network operators first.

If that does'nt(and especially in Today's uncertain Economic environment) ;nobody wants to sink in so much Money today.

Except for the Government-Even they look stretched today.


Hospice_Houngbo   Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber   7/3/2013 10:25:48 PM
Re: Wrong Technical Choices and Comparisons don't Help matters
@eethtwokz, I know that Americans are better off than many other countries in terms of internet connectivity, and that even regulations havn't prevented them from having one of the best internet coverrage in the world. No need to blame regulations for americans' lack for enough fiber deployment, I think that will come time when the fiber market matures.
batye   Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber   7/3/2013 4:26:05 AM
Re: Crawford's the one
thank you, I say it how I see it... as reality technology get controled by politics... most of the times...
eethtworkz   Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber   7/3/2013 4:13:13 AM
Re: Crawford's the one

Very,Very Accurate you are!

Politics routinely wins over Economics in most Area of Society today.
eethtworkz   Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber   7/3/2013 4:11:42 AM
Re: Wrong Technical Choices and Comparisons don't Help matters

Once again the comparison is not particularly Fair or accurate-Unless you compare Countries of Similar Geographic Size and Range.

Who is to Blame for the lack of Last Mile Connectivity on WiMax?

More often than not its the Regulators who have tried to push too many Competitive Networks in the market today(Backed by their own Lobbyists).

You need Cell Towers spread all across America to get the right WiMax connections.

The Regulators have done too many Foolish things today in America.

batye   Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber   7/2/2013 11:44:26 PM
Re: Crawford's the one
agree, interesting to know... a lot of the time politics and corporate interests win over... and techology get lost...
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