Some next-generation broadband services that are in existence use a fibre-copper setup like FTTC where there is a fibre-optic run to a street-side box and a short copper-cable run from the street-side box to the customer’s premises. In a multi-tenant building setup like a block of flats or a shopping centre, there may be a “fibre-to-the-building” setup where there is the copper-cable run within the development but a fibre-optic run to the development itself.
This method is being pushed as a cost-effective solution for providing next-generation broadband and has been intensified as part of the National Broadband Network debate by Tony Abbott and the Liberal-National-Party Coalition.
But BT Openreach are providing the fibre-to-the-premises technology as an extra-cost option on top of their fibre-to-the-cabinet setups in the UK. Typically the cost for providing this option would be significant and may be paid out over time.The kind of people who may initially purchase it would be larger businesses or “tech-head” computer enthusiasts who want as much bandwidth as they can.
On the other hand, most typical home and small-business users would use the fibre-to-the-cabinet setups. It is also worth noting that if a significant number of users covering a particular area choose this option, installation costs may be reduced when it comes to providing fibre-to-the-premises Internet service due to existing infrastructure.
An issue that is also forgotten about when considering “FTTP as an option” is the concept of an upgrade path. This is where a customer existing at the same premises who had a fibre-copper setup may decide to go “all-fibre” for the faster bandwidth; or a subsequent customer may move in to the same premises and go “all-fibre”. This could be supported through the use of same physical infrastructure (trenches / poles) for fibre / copper setups and a costing plan for upgrades.
The article talked of public money being used to finance next-generation broadband infrastructure and where private money should cover the cost. They were raising issues of whether public money should fund the link from the “digital hub” to the customer or whether private money should do this, and there may be a reluctance for private money to be used to provide FTTP or similar options for areas not considered profitable like rural areas or areas subjected to “redlining” based on the then-current community makeup.
The “FTTP as an option” could be seen as a compromise to please the “no-public-money” advocates when it comes to providing next-generation broadband. On the other hand, a properly thought-out universal-service obligation setup with a minimum bandwidth and a public-private funding pool could assist with making technologies like FTTP become affordable for most users. It should also support the ability to prevent “redlining” of areas when it comes to providing the next-generation broadband service.