“Fiber is the foundation for broadband, 5G or smart grid modernization”

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Spotlight on Fiber Deployment | TelecomDrive.com

Whether it is strengthening of broadband, 5G or smart grid modernization – deployment of quality Fiber holds the key and becomes the foundation for future-proof networks.

Gary Bolton, President, Fiber Broadband Association interacts with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the importance of fiberization and how it can elevate quality of life for consumers.

Why is fiberization important today?

Eight- five years ago, Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act to connect American homes with electricity.

  • That decision changed the lives of rural residents by giving them access to modern benefits enjoyed by their urban counterparts.
  • It helped bind America together, bridging a distinct divide that existed in the country.
  • If America could connect rural homes with electrical cable 85 years ago, it can do the same with optical fiber broadband today.

How can fiber deployment enable higher quality of life through community economic development, remote healthcare, education opportunities and access to critical infrastructure?

The Pandemic has highlighted the critical needs for robust broadband (upstream and down) for WFH, online school, connecting with family and all essential services.

Fiber Broadband Association

  • Fiber is critical infrastructure
    1. Not only broadband connectivity
    2. Economic Dev – Jobs
      • Chattanooga’s Fiber project resulted in 9,516 new jobs and $2.69B in economic impact
    3. Economic Diversity
      • LUS Fiber in Lafayette, Louisiana enabled a broad spectrum of industry diversification for a community that had previously had wild economic swings at the mercy of the oil industry
    4. Smart Grid (Chattanooga example)
      • 11M customer interruptions avoided
      • 43% reduction in outage minutes on average
      • $421M in benefits during major weather events
      • Reduced 1,865 MW of demand and 10,331 MWh of electricity consumption
    5. 5G
      • Fiber is the required infrastructure for 5G
        • High capacity, low latency

How do you think operators can maximize their return on 5G investments with the help of better fiberization?

5G is Fiber. 5G brings the promise of mission critical services such as autonomous vehicles, massive IoT and immersive broadband.  These applications require very high bandwidth and extremely low latency and as a result, requires very small cell serving areas with a massive fiber infrastructure.  In short, any community without fiber will not be in position for future services, such as 5G.  Fiber is the foundation for our future, whether it is broadband, 5G or smart grid modernization.

How does fiber set communities up for long term success with a futureproof network that is guaranteed to provide reliable service that outperforms any other medium, including copper, coax, wireless and satellite services?

There is no debate that fiber is the gold standard for every aspect of communications as critical infrastructure.  Fiber clear delivers near limitless capacity and bandwidth, the lowest latency, sustainability, reliability, lowest maintenance cost, security and is undisputedly the best long-term option based on any metric.

What makes fiber the gold standard for broadband service and how does deploying fiber open doors to the future?

There are three things that determine broadband speeds:

  1. SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio)
  2. Bits per Hertz (Hz)
  3. Hertz (i.e.available spectrum)

Fiber is an optically pure noise-free environment.  Without noise (aka interference), you can reach theoretical bandwidth limits.  Whereas copper, wireless, cable, etc. are all challenged with noisy environments from weather, foliage, radio signals, emi and any other type of interference.  Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, so fiber optic has a tremendously unfair advantage over any other communications medium.  Given Fiber provides a noise-free environment for communications signals to travel, it is easy to pack the maximum number of bits per Hz.  Further, fiber provides a closed system so there is limited spectrum available.

Fiber is the ultimate fundamental foundational building block for broadband, smart grid modernization and for future services, such as 5G.

What are some of the big challenges that you see in front of the telecoms communities when it comes to rolling out fiber? How can they overcome these challenges?

The US (and other nations) are at the beginning of a major fiber investment cycle.  Hundreds of billions ($) will soon be available in Federal and State subsidies, along with private CapEx investment.  So, funding will not be an issue.

The Fiber Broadband Association is focused on workforce development to ensure that we have qualified Fiber Optic technicians trained and available for fiber deployment.  We are also very focused on addressing deployment impediments.  For example, FBA recently supported legislation in California that helps standard micro-trenching to help speed fiber deployment.

How do developments in fiber technology drive innovation for 5G, 6G communications?

The rule for any kind of wireless solution is to get it out of the air and into the ground at the first available point.  Having a robust fiber infrastructure enables very small cell sites that enables 5G and beyond solutions.

In the wake of President Biden’s thrust on delivering quality broadband connectivity in the US, how does FBA look to this as an opportunity? 

The Fiber Broadband Association is extremely encouraged that the President understands the value of “future proof” and “long term solutions”, as outlined in his American Jobs Plan.

Just as FDR united the country with the Rural Electricification Act in 1935, this Administration has the opportunity to ensure that all Americans have access fiber broadband.  Fiber is the critical infrastructure of our future for jobs, economic development, economic diversity, remote healthcare, education, smart grid modernization and it provide a path to future services, such as 5G.

How will things change on the ground level as far as connecting rural and unconnected communities is concerned?

Today we have a sharp digital divide in both urban and rural communities.  Connecting All Americans with fiber broadband will enable digital equity and advance the quality of life by providing these communities with unlimited access to jobs, education, healthcare and a path to the future.  As we emerge from the pandemic, we all have the ability to work from anywhere.  The ability to have access to Silicon Valley jobs, while living in a low cost of living / high quality of life community is transformative.

As an industry body, how does FBA encourage addressing challenges on diversity and inclusion in the industry today?

The Fiber Broadband Association’s mission is to accelerate the deployment of fiber broadband networks to ensure digital equity and enable every community to leverage economic and societal benefits that only fiber can deliver.  We embrace diversity and inclusion on several levels.

Ensuring that All Americans can compete on a level playing field for jobs, healthcare and education with a fiber broadband infrastructure that will ensure digital equity now and into the future.  Our membership represents the entire fiber industry ecosystem with have of our members being broadband service providers and the other half representing the supply side, including fiber optic and optical electronics manufacturers, engineering consultants and broadband deployment specialists.

We also embrace and promote gender equality with our Women In Fiber committee, which is focused on celebrating women in all areas and at all levels in the fiber industry. The FBA is also highly involved in work force development to ensure that our industry has qualified fiber optic professionals from all walks of life, including veterans transitioning into the private sector.


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