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Dark Green: Firm commitments from incumbent: BT (10M), Belgacom, Australian NBN, Swisscom,  Austria, Bezeq Israel, Chunghwa Taiwan, Telus Canada, Telekom South Africa, SK Korea, (U.S.) AT&T, Century, Frontier, Windstream, Belgium, Omantel

Mid Pink: Smaller carriers in Germany, Norway, Finland, Japan

Light Green: Incumbent likely:  France, Germany, Italy

Andrew-FergusonThese are my estimates, not from BT. I combined Andrew Ferguson's mapping results with cost estimates from several industry sources. Carriers use DSL instead of fiber because it's much cheaper, with likely costs of $100-$300 for the gear and installation. Even so, I was amazed when I calculated the BT cost for 10M homes servable. It's probably less than ~$300M/year for four years.

That's a heckuva of money to you and me, but a very small investment for a company the size of British Telecom. ~$300M is ~1% of revenue and 10% of the capital budget. It's probably less than BT is currently spending on DSL at slower speeds and will not require increased investment. The cost will be less if you make some plausible assumptions.

The original plan, FTTdp, would probably have cost five times as much. Running fiber close to everyone would cost more than the equipment. Going to the existing cabinets saves that cost, although the change drops many people's speeds from 500-750 megabits to 100-300 megabits. Thanks to Andrew Ferguson at ThinkBroadband, I can calculate the likely costs of the cabinet build. 

96 ports of DSLAM at $250 is $24,000. Multiplied by 40,000 cabinets you come to $960,000,000. Add 25% for overhead and cost overruns raises that to ~1,200,000,000, about 1% of BT's sales in the four years. A telco looking for a higher figure than $250 for a press release would come much higher. A vendor looking to bid low enough to guarantee the contract would probably come in much lower. Both could find senior economists who will confirm their figures for a fee.

Andrew's mapping concludes BT will have to upgrade 25,000-40,000 cabinets to offer 10M Brits 100 megabits or more. Ferguson also points out that the cabinets will be served with no more than 96 ports initially, which only works if fewer than ~30% take high speeds. Putting just 96 ports in each reduces the number of DSLAMs needed by 2/3rds or more, bringing the initial capex down further. If more than 96 homes  want high speeds, the extra they will pay will more than cover the cost of an additional DSLAM.

Someone from Nokia Alcatel or Huawei may call me saying they can't price at $24K installed. That may be true in 2017 but will come far down by 2019 & 2020. For ten million lines, they can find a way.

A few weeks ago, BT's stock rose ~ $5B in a few days. That could have to bring 500 megabits to a majority of Brits, I calculated, going to the distribution points. It could alternately finance fiber home to much of the country. 

That's inoperative because BT's stock has come down $15B in the two days since Brexit, amidst a $40B rout in the prices of European telcos.  

The Site for gfast 230 News

I’m still working through remarkable presentations from the Broadband Forum events. Michael Weissman, Bernd Hesse and team did a remarkable job choosing the speakers.

Deutsche Telecom: 35b Supervectoring Delayed to 2019
Broadcom is now over 3 years late. DT briefed German reporters after their financial call and revealed 35b was now delayed until 2019. 35b should deliver 200+ meg downloads 500-600 meters, a crucial tool for DT, which is losing share to cable. Cable now covers about 70% of Germany and is expanding. DT now only offers 50-100 megabit DSL while cable is often 400 megabits, going to a gigabit. 

The problem is software; the hardware is shipping and supposedly will work. DT says 35b is not ready to turn on. Broadcom in 2015 said 35b was in "production" in the press release below. Alcatel in early 2016 said to expect complete systems very soon. "35g is very similar to 17a so there should be little delay."

Broadcom's problems are leading major telcos and vendors to have a plan B, using Sckipio DT itself is planning extensive deployments in 2019, mostly in apartment buildings.

Gigabit 100 Meters - Unless the Wires are Lousy
Speeds are fine, "Unless there's a line problem." I've been reporting for three years that ~10% of lines have problems. In the chart by Rami Verbin of Sckipio, he finds goes ~130 meters on good lines. Poor lines have about half the reach. 

His chart roughly matches the reports from Swisscom, Belgacom, and England for both & vectored DSL. The 10% with problems can cause the majority of the line-related complaints to support. The angry customers drive up cost.

Rami's solution to reach the gigabit is bonding, supported on the Sckipio chips. Verbin made some additional points:

  • 4 gigabits is possible by bonding two decent 2 gigabit lines.
  • Even in a service from remote cabinets, ~25% are close enough to get a full gigabit."
  • cDTA and iDTA are practical ways to deliver much higher upstream by switching some bandwidth from downstream to upstream only when needed.
  • 35B will probably be similar but Deutsche Telecom doesn't expect to deploy until 2019.

AT&T Wants Coax 2-5 Gigabit Very Soon.
AT&T faces intense competition from cable, talking about 10 gigabits in both directions. (Cable will only be 1 gig down, ~100 meg up, until ~2021.) AT&T wants something to brag about as well.

AT&T gained millions of lines of coax as part of the DirecTV deal. Alcatel and Huawei are leading the development of G.mgfast. That uses 424 MHz, full duplex, to achieve ~2.5 gigabits in both directions. The reach on telco twisted pair is only about 30 meters. On coax, those speeds can probably extend far enough to service most apartment buildings. Using 848 MHz, speeds can reach 5 gigabits. The ITU standards group has been aiming for 2019-2020 for G.mgfast, too slow for AT&T's marketers. David Titus wants a high-speed standard for coax "early in 2018." He believes that is "doable."

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