Fiber Broadband Association: 1.4M Fiber Miles Needed for 5G in Top 25 U.S. Metros

The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) has issued a very optimistic fiber deployment forecast, which calls for approximately 1.4 million miles of fiber in the top 25 metro markets in the U.S.  That’s driven in large part by carriers’ 5G wireless deployment plans, which will require fiber backhaul, especially for small cells.

The FBA, formerly known as the Fiber to the Home Council Americas, promotes fiber deployment to homes, business and “to everywhere,” the organization notes in a new report titled “The Road to 5G is Paved with Fiber.”

The report also makes a case for why the FBA believes fixed 5G as the only connection to a home will not be the norm.

FBA’s Fiber Deployment Forecast:
In the report, the FBA spells out the assumptions that drove its fiber deployment forecast and cites sources for those assumptions:

  • While macrocells are roughly .5 to 25 miles apart, 5G will require small cells located between 200 and 1,000 feet apart
  • To deliver gigabit peak speeds to each user, the minimum downlink speed to each small cell will need to be 20 Gbps and the uplink peak data rate will need to be 10 Gbps
  • 5G may require 60 small cells to cover one square mile
  • The top 25 U.S. metro markets cover approximately 174,000 square miles

The 1.4-million fiber-mile forecast could be on the low side if multiple carriers want to build competing networks, the FBA notes.

Pessimistic on Fixed 5G:

“We do not believe fixed 5G to the home – as the only connection to the home – will become the norm,” the FBA argues in the new report.  Tell that to Verizon and AT&T which are planning to deploy some form of 5G fixed wireless to residences.

The report’s author notes that home network connections may need to support multiple 4K and soon 8K video streams, hundreds of in-home internet-connected devices and multiple virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) users, which will require higher bandwidths than can be delivered by 5G under current development standards.

Additionally, the report argues that the millimeter wave signals that will be used for some 5G deployments do not penetrate exterior walls and would require a receiver attached to an exterior wall, requiring additional hardware costs and ongoing energy and maintenance costs. It’s worth noting, though, that results from early 5G trials are showing that the technology is not as limited as wireless experts initially expected it to be and both AT&T and Verizon have ambitious plans for fixed 5G.

Image result for pic of fiber optic network


Separately, Cignal AI reported that North America metro WDM sales grew with increased spending by cloud and colo customers, offsetting weakness in the long-haul WDM market. Cisco and Ciena were the main beneficiaries of this shift to metro WDM, with Cisco realizing double-digits year-over-year growth related to cloud/colo shipments and growth in its NCS 4000 revenue. Significant shipments for metro WDM applications resulted in global coherent 100G port shipments exceeding 100,000 units in the quarter.

EMEA revenue dropped almost 20 percent year-over-year in 3Q17. Huawei, one of the top vendors in the region, experienced a very sharp decline and provided negative guidance into 2018. This data point, as well as others, compelled Cignal AI to reduce its forecast for EMEA for this year and 2018. Cignal AI expects to see weak spending trends among tier-1 customers in the region. Cignal AI also cut its 2018 forecast for China based on ongoing uncertainty tied to regional spending and a stall in revenue growth in 3Q17.

  • Last quarter was the weakest YoY revenue growth recorded in China in over 4 years as momentum from 2Q17 spending failed to continue into the third quarter. Spending trends in the region remain difficult to predict.
  • Revenue in the rest of Asia (RoAPAC) eased following breakout results in India during 2Q17 though spending remains at historically high levels.
  • Quarterly coherent 100G+ port shipments broke 100k units for the first time on a global basis. 100G+ Port shipments in China were flat QoQ and are substantially up YoY

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