Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) has long been viewed as the final frontier in terms of delivering ultra-high speed services. However, deployment has been challenging due to a number of factors, with cost being at the top of the list. FTTH also hit a stumbling block in brownfield applications where environmental conditions simply make it cost prohibitive. According to the FTTH Council there were nearly 75 million FTTH subscribers worldwide at the end of 2012. Of that number, Europe had only 10.3 million subscribers with North America at 9.7 million. This being said, there is still a long way to go before reaching the all-fiber frontier.
The latest solution for high-speed service delivery over existing facilities is VDSL2 vectoring. This technology, simply put, eliminates the crosstalk between binder groups of copper pairs, allowing the highest service level to be achieved. With VDSL2 vectoring, speeds of 100 Mbps and beyond can be achieved. Vectoring can also be used to extend the reach of 50 Mbps service.
So, is vectoring a replacement for FTTH? Will vectoring slow the adoption of FTTH? Are these two approaches bitter enemies or can they happily co-exist?
Well, I contend that rather than competing they are actually complementary. Here are a few facts:
Fact: Operators cannot afford to rollout FTTH through their entire network in the short term.
Fact: There are some areas that are simply cost-prohibitive and will likely never be served by FTTH.
Fact: Service providers already have an installed base of copper which can be leveraged at a fraction of the cost of fiber.
Fact: VDSL2 vectoring can be used as a migration path to FTTH.
Yes, I said vectoring can be a migration path to FTTH. So, how does this work? Because the network has evolved over time, there is a massive installed base of copper plant. Many think that copper is dead, but vectoring is reinventing the network. Through vectoring, you breathe new life into copper. Vectoring is enabling service providers to reach their customers with high-speed services at a fraction of the cost of laying fiber all the way to the home. But it can also be used to deliver 50 Mbps services to a wider service area for those same service providers offering FTTH. As a service provider, why not use vectoring to extend 50 Mbps services to the bulk of your customer base now, as you implement your FTTH plan? FTTH rollout is not quick or cheap, but augmenting with VDSL2 vectoring can allow you to retain the customers you have today while competing against cable operators and DOCSIS 3.0. VDSL2 vectoring is here. It’s here to stay. FTTH and vectoring are not the arch enemies they have been painted to be. Instead, they are two means to an end, existing in parallel.
Is this a replacement for fiber? No. It is a transition to fiber.