March 31, 2017
For geeks like us – it is a popular dinner time topic to discuss who can offer faster Internet speeds.
I can hear you saying. Are you kidding me. I already know.
My operator does a great job. They can offer triple play and yes, the fancy carry my content where ever I want to take it. No – my operator is giving great bundle including great speed package that is suitable for me. You got to be kidding me – that bright shiny operator called Google can do a better job because they are new and they can offer 1 Gps up and down.
Ok … Ok … I know this has become a religious discussion with the marketing message mash-up. Let us review some fundamentals here.
As shown in the figure (we may be little off here and there – but are directionally correct), your friends in the standards group are not sitting idle. They are pushing the technology to its limits. There are four different camps here. The Wireless camp, the DSL camp, the DOCSIS camp and the Fiber camp. New and improved next generation technologies are being introduced regularly to meet the demand growth and compete with the other camps. This technology evolution has different limitations –
- Wireless and DOCSIS has to share spectrum across multiple customers
- DSL has to push distance limitation (even you are not sharing bandwidth with other customers)
- Fiber can be point to point or shared but expensive to construct (refer to What Happened with Google Fiber)
In general, the wireless technologies are lagging the copper based technologies by a factor of ten and the copper technology evolution is lagging by another factor of ten. You may say – ok geek so what? Here is a situation – if someone threatens the copper based technology providers with fiber based technologies – what can be done? This is real – Google entered into the service provider market and disrupted serene waters with their Gig Symmetrical speeds using their Fiber To The Home technology.
With the given capability gap – operators are jumping to fiber based solutions as the demand arise. Both the Telcos (ATT lately and VZ with its FiOS) and cable operators (Altice, Comcast, Cox) have exercised or exercising their Fiber card. For the wireless operators to play significant role they need a fiber based solution. How can a wireless operator play fiber solution? Think again ……. Fiber Backhaul.
Many of you might be wondering – Do I need to care about all this fancy bandwidth or is it only for me to boast across at the dinner table to my friends. Not answering what your bandwidth needs are – let me put you, the residential consumers, in multiple buckets. Those who are:
- Sensible and want to continue the tradition of different speed offering in upstream and downstream,
- Pushing everything into the cloud (the anywhere anytime gang),
- Ready to experiment (or brag about) symmetrical speeds at a marginal increase in monthly price, and
- Running their businesses who needs some dedicated bandwidth.
All of these consumer needs are typically met by the operators in one form or the other, well other than the limitations in the wireless offering. Refer to the cryptic table presented above for your head scratching. The question to you, as a consumer, is where does your need fall in this spectrum of bandwidth offering. Once you decide – see who can offer it and how better they can do it with their infrastructure to your home. If the operator promises yes they can or they are selling something else you know why they are doing it.
So, next time, to amaze your friends at the dinner table – ask the right questions about their consumption patterns – put them in the right bucket. As a second step find out about the operator’s activities in their neighborhood. Once you have these two data points – you know how to mesmerize them or mess them up in the famous speed offering discussion.