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Fiber Connect 2019 Takeaways

Mats Ekelund, Volaris Group Portfolio Leader

Earlier this month, Volaris Portfolio Leader, Mats Ekelund, traveled from his home base in Sweden to Fiber Connect in Orlando, Florida. Fiber Connect is North America’s premier event for fiber and broadband professionals, and an opportunity to learn the latest in fiber connectivity. 

Mats has more than 30 years of experience delivering business-critical IT solutions to midsized and large corporations in Europe and North America. Today, Mats is a Portfolio Manager at Volaris Group, overseeing Netadmin Systems, Avance Metering, and Tarantula. Below, Mats shares his top takeaways from Fiber Connect 2019.


 

Fiber Connect 2019 offered programming on a variety of topics, from how to market and promote fiber in your community to how AI can improve fiber service delivery. Over three packed days, fiber professionals looked ahead to the future of fiber connectivity. 

As I walked the floor grounds, there were two topics that dominated the conversations: 5G and Rural Broadband Coverage.  

5G & Fiber: What It Means

The impact of 5G is so great that it will affect all areas of the communication industry. At Fiber Connect, everyone’s mind was on how 5G will impact fiber connections and industrial development. 5G’s network performance will be predicated on the availability of fiber to cell sites.

Fiber will be needed in future generations of Mobile Networks in two ways:

  1. As a backhaul between cells.
  2. As a connection to buildings.

The densification of 5G requires 16x more fiber than 4G. The cell density of 4G is 25 cells/100km2. For 5G the cell density will be 400 cells/100km2 with Fiber connection between all cells. 

What does this mean? We are now seeing the first live 5G deployments in large cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and Denver. However, the 5G infrastructure is very expensive to implement and will not be rolled out in rural areas, at least not for quite some time.

But enough about 5G. Now on to the Rural coverage of Broadband in the US (and other countries).

Rethinking the “Broad” in Broadband

In the late 30s and early 40s, Electric Co-ops in the United States began enabling electricity in rural areas of the country. These Electric Co-ops are still here, delivering Electricity, but now they will play a vital role in getting their customers on to High-Speed Broadband using fiber. Currently, more than 13 million people in 6 million homes served by the Electric Co-ops do not have access to Broadband.

So why are Electric Co-ops invested in improving access to high-speed Broadband?

In the US, Broadband is defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as a 25MB Internet Service, so it’s not very “broad” compared to what fiber can deliver.

The Tier-1 players find it too expensive to roll out fiber (and 5G) in rural areas and this is quite understandable. The Government needs to either fund or lend money to States and Counties to get rural homes connected to High-Speed Broadband. They are now starting to provide some loans and funding for this, and the Electric Co-ops get access to a portion of that money.

Another driver for the Electric Co-ops is that they need a fiber backbone to be able to deliver power and monitor the Power Grid. Smart Meters, smarter substations need fast and reliable communication to be able to restore power or even prevent outages.

At Fiber Connect 2019, there were plenty of conversations about funding, designing and construction of rural fiber networks.

Based on what I heard at the event, I believe that Electric Co-ops and Municipalities will succeed in deploying fiber to their consumers. The business case is there, even if it is long-term. According to the World Bank, a 10% increase in broadband penetration has significant benefits for governments and Co-ops, including:

  • An average 1.21% jump in GDP growth in developed economies.
  • Better broadband shows a correlation with lower unemployment rates
  • We have also seen proof that consumption increases with every MB of Broadband speed.

The future of fiber connectivity lies in the ability to measure up to the new infrastructure demands of the technology. By doing so, people around the world will eventually have the opportunity to reap the benefits of faster internet.

Fiber to the People! 


June 18, 2019

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Erini Andriopoulos

Erini is the Marketing Manager for the Volaris Communications & Media Portfolio. Whether it’s for global CPG brands or local start-ups, Erini helps companies tell stories that inspire, educate, and inform. How can she help you learn more about the Volaris Communications & Media Portfolio? Send her an email at erini.andriopoulos@volarisgroup.com with your questions.