Broadband (and Tech) Boom Predicted by ADTRAN CEO

August 10, 2016
By: Doug Mohney

Huntsville, AL – Gigabit connectivity is surging, says ADTRAN (News - Alert), with plenty of reasons driving carriers to build out fiber over the next five years.

During his version of a “fireside chat,” ADTRAN CEO Tom Stanton said that a long-anticipated “Broadband Boom” was starting to take place, with access speeds finally catching up with the rapid evolution of computing devices and services due to Moore’s Law.

“We are seeing major carriers with their significant fiber and G.Fast initiatives, and GPON deployments,” Stanton said. “Two years ago, you wouldn’t have believed that was going to happen. Tier Two [service providers] are talking for the first time about GPON cities and trying to offer IPTS services. The mindset has changed, both here in the U.S. and abroad, like in Britain with BT (News - Alert)...The competitive landscape is about to go through a real sea change and for the first time we should see the exponential growth we have been looking for a long time in access speeds. This will also have a corresponding impact on fixed wireless and the number of access points.”

Underlining ADTRAN’s bullishness on gigabit capacity at its annual media event at the company’s headquarters was a parade of customers discussing fiber deployments across the United States ranging from hometown Huntsville Utilities to Anza Electric Cooperative in Southern California.

Research conducted by ADTRAN suggests that carriers can hold off gigabit-range competitive offers from cable operators if they offer at least 150 Mbps service, with all other things equal.  Anything less than 150 Mbps and customers are likely to switch to a gigabit service with another service provider, with ranges from 25 Mbps to 50 Mbps effectively no-brainers.   Cable’s deployment of DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 is already pushing carriers to trial G.fast copper services as one potential counter, providing the ability to support anywhere from 100 Mbps to 300 Mbps.

The anticipated broadband boom is expected to support and help proliferate a wide range of technologies.  Stanton ran through a list of technologies including open source/open standards, SDN, 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) that will flourish as carriers make the move to gigabit and faster speeds.

Stanton said that while the company has embraced open standard and technology through Mosaic and other initiatives, “We have to get better” with white box solutions, specifically in sales and marketing.  At the same time, customers are still on a learning curve when it comes to buying white box solutions, finding they end up buying one piece and later needing to acquire other pieces for a full solution.

Software defined networking (SDN) is necessary to successfully scale up broadband and associated services, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), but “Nobody’s ready for SDN now,” Stanton stated. ADTRAN offers SDN today, but the company has to put other software on top of it to make it look “old” – compatible with legacy systems.  As carriers move forward with embracing SDN, Stanton expects the legacy shims to be peeled away.

Adding to the complexity of the broadband boom are the twins of 5G wireless services and the IoT. Stanton said he “believes” in IoT, but carriers need to figure out how to handle connections from billions of devices, while 5G deployment is going to require a parallel deployment in fiber to support its multi-gigabit speeds. SDN is a necessary tool to deploy and manage 5G and IoT networks.   

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Edited by Alicia Young