Summer 2018 Optical Connections Magazine


STIFFENING THE BACKBONE: Network investment is on the up

N ational fibre networks are the backbone of every country’s communication network - passing information between data centres, providing backhaul for mobile networks and supplying the broadband piped into millions of people’s homes. With the demand on national networks growing rapidly as consumers demand faster speeds, greater bandwidth and lower latency, the pressure is on national network providers to stay ahead of the game. COMMON THEME Network expansion and investment is a common theme among major players in Europe and the US. AT&T’s total investment between 2013 and 2017 in the United States - including capital investment and acquisitions of spectrum and wireless operations - amounted to more than US$135 billion, more than any other public company. While the company won’t disclose fibre-specific investment numbers, in March it said it planned to invest US$23 billion in capital to build the best gigabit network - wireline and wireless - in the US. AT&T’s fibre network extends across 21 states and its 100% fibre network is marketed to more than seven million locations across 70 metro areas.

Consumer demands and the availability of new technologies are driving operators to expand their national backbone fibre networks, writes Ellen Manning

BIG PLAYERS AT&T isn’t alone. In the UK, Openreach has invested more than £11 billion in its network. In 2016 BT announced that its Openreach and EE businesses would spend around £6 million in CapEx over the ensuing three years as part of a plan to help the UK remain the leading digital nation in the G20 group. On a consumer level Openreach is working to make ‘ultrafast’ broadband speeds of more than 100Mbps available to 12 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020 using a mixture of technologies. It already provides phone and broadband infrastructure to around 30 million homes and businesses and has announced an ambition to deliver ‘full fibre’ infrastructure to as many as 10 million homes and businesses by the mid-2020s. Another major player, Orange, is deploying FTTH networks in its major markets in Europe and at the end of 2017 had reached more than 20 million of connectable households, accelerating its deployments in France and Spain and starting deployments in countries in Africa and the Middle East. “Additionally,

“In 2018, we plan to add three million more locations on our path to reach at least 12.5 million locations across at least 84 metro areas by mid-2019,” a spokesperson told Optical Connections. “Demand has continued to exceed our expectations in the areas where we have made this service available and we want to make the service available to more locations. The fibre-enhanced speeds will open up new possibilities for technology innovators and businesses, as well as consumers who want faster speeds for surfing, shopping, gaming, social networking, business transactions and more. Clearing the path for this technology growth brings more investment in our advanced network and can serve as a catalyst for new employment and economic growth.”


| ISSUE 13 | Q2 2018

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