A Solution Looking for A Problem
Fiber to the home, (FTTH), the supposed “Holy Grail” of wireline internet providers as well as excessive, unnecessary government spending, is a solution looking for a problem.
Also called “fiber to the premises”(FTTP), it is the installation and use of extruded glass optical fiber strands from a central point directly to residences, apartment buildings and businesses to provide high-speed internet access. Driven mostly by popular media, it falls into the category of “over promise and under deliver,” something, unfortunately, the internet service provider (ISP) community is famous for.
Fiber to the home provides a “wicked-fast, last mile” connection to nowhere. Once back at the “co-lo” or aggregation point, FTTH users find themselves competing for the same limited resources as their neighboring cable television modem, cellular wireless providers and DSL [Digital Subscriber Line, or very old telephone company technology]. The world wide networks are the choke point, and it’s often not the “last mile,” where FTTH lives, but rather backhaul aggregation, Network Access Points (NAP) and the overall explosion of network demand driven by over-the-top video streaming, which I discussed here.
Often missed, for almost all users, the last 20 feet is nowadays virtually always wireless. Honestly, when was the last time you went looking for a “RJ45” jack to plug your laptop into the Internet? Most readers probably do not know what that even means, and most laptops no longer come with one. [Category 5 cable, commonly referred to as cat 5 with RJ45 connectors, is multiple twisted pairs of wire for carrying data signals for computer networks].
Cable television networks using coaxial cable, often referred to as “HFC,” or “Hybrid Fiber Coax,” cost far less and achieve the same service levels as FTTH.
The network designs of the future will merge wireless technologies with millions of small wireless cells throughout neighborhoods, cities, businesses, shopping areas, stores, public and private transportation, or wherever users can be found.
Except where subsidized with government money, or for specialized users in dense metropolitan areas, FTTH makes little sense in an ever-exploding wireless and mobile world.