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April 9, 2009 11:08 AM

All Nations Agree: Fiber's The Global Standard

Previously I've argued that everyone agrees that fiber is the gold standard of broadband. The only questions being can other technologies deliver the same capacity, do we need that much capacity, and can we afford to bring the gold standard to everyone. (With the answers being: no, fiber's by far the best; yes, video beyond HD requires fiber; and yes, in fact we can't afford not to bring fiber to everyone.)

But now let's take this conversation a step further and acknowledge that full fiber networks have become the global standard for broadband.

Just look at ITIF's 2008 Broadband Rankings (link is to a PDF).

Notice which countries have the highest average broadband speeds with the lowest price per Mbps. They all have one thing in common: they've all committed themselves to full fiber networks.

So there's a direct relationship between building out fiber and not only realizing higher speeds but also lower prices, and that's in spite of fiber's higher upfront costs.

Now let's take a look at some global broadband-related headlines from the last two weeks:

Singapore ready for full-scale FTTH deployment

New Zealand Unveils High-Speed Broadband Network Proposal

Australia Announces $31 Billion Fiber Network

That's three countries in two weeks announcing major national broadband initiatives all of which are based on deploying full fiber networks.

Quite frankly, you just don't hear the same kind of buzz about any other broadband technology. You don't hear countries proudly committing themselves to a broadband future that doesn't include full fiber networks.

And we can't deny that the common trait held by all of the countries considered to be global broadband leaders is that they've all committed themselves to a full fiber future.

Bringing this back to the US, with this context I don't see how we can responsibly set our national goals at anything less than the global standard of broadband, which are full fiber networks.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't support further DSL, cable, and wireless development and deployment. And in fact if we can realize a future where these other technologies have evolved at a rapid enough pace to keep up with fiber so that there is robust intermodal competition then that'd be great.

But what we can't afford to do is allow ourselves to not set the aspirational goal of a Full Fiber Nation just so that we can wait around for these other technologies to prove themselves.

So let us not shy away achieving great things, accept the reality that the rest of the world has chosen fiber as the global broadband standard, and start working towards bringing the best broadband to every last home in our great nation.

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