October 27, 2011 | Oliver Johnson
Increasingly the biggest barrier to broadband adoption around the world is affordability, but the industry is working to bring services into the reach of the digitally deprived, according to leading analyst firm Point Topic.
With plenty of solutions to deliver superfast broadband making their way to market, it is more and more important that suppliers are able to align their networks and implement delivery solutions that are cost effective. Standards are core to the effort says Point Topic CEO Oliver Johnson.
“The next wave of broadband, commonly titled ‘superfast’, is gathering steam,” Johnson says. “With more than half a billion fixed lines already in use and many markets extending the reach of fixed broadband across their populations, the spectre of a deepening digital divide rears its head. On a global basis, if suppliers can shave 1% off the cost of a broadband service then that brings it into the economic reach of at least another five million households.”
While some countries have already deployed fibre through a large percentage of their networks there are plenty of places, commonly outside the richer business districts and high density areas that will not support a commercial roll-out of full P2P or active optical implementations.
“GPON is winning the debate,” says Johnson. “Its economic advantages, particularly at the moment, are a powerful argument and mean that it’s likely to be the dominant technology for the next few years at least.”
Standards can help make the savings even more attractive. Economies of scale are significant in producing and providing the necessary infrastructure elements for GPON deployment particularly when it comes to commercial consumer roll-out.
“The work that standards bodies around the world are doing on certification is a core element in bringing broadband to more people. Yesterday’s announcement around GPON certifications from the Broadband Forum is a prime example. It takes the work of respected bodies with global reach to test, award and implement standards that manufacturers, suppliers and their customers are comfortable with and have the confidence to stick with,” adds Johnson.
“It’s way too early to say we’ve solved the availability issue for broadband. There are still plenty of countries with lower penetration than you’d want to see. That said, the majority of those countries are where broadband services, even when they go past the front door, are not in households because they can’t afford it. Even in ‘mature’ and relatively rich broadband markets there are significant shortfalls in take-up due to the cost of a subscription and the kit that goes with it.”
“Standards are one component of bringing down the price of a broadband service. Competition, information and technological advances all make a difference. Mostly however it’s about how much of any saving a supplier can pass on to its customers and to be able to reduce costs at a stroke of a standards pen should bring some immediate relief for the digital divide,” concludes Johnson.
About Point Topic
Point Topic is the primary websource for DSL, FTTx, cable and other broadband supplier and user statistics, databases, information and reports. Its data is in use worldwide amongst governments, commercial organisations and as general reference. A range of online services provides the most up-to-date, accurate and cost effective worldwide and UK specific broadband data sets available.
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