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Strong 'business case' for gigabit broadband, claims Alcatel boss

Friday, October 17th 2014 by Ellen Branagh

Gigabit broadband may not be immediately necessary, but the industry needs to start planning for it now, a telecoms equipment company director has said.

Mathew Pitt-Bailey, director of product communications at Alcatel-Lucent, said the industry needs to embrace the “buzz” around gigabit broadband.

Speaking to Cable.co.uk ahead of next week’s Broadband World Forum conference in Amsterdam, Mr Pitt-Bailey (pictured) told us, “I think there’s an opportunity, simply.

“I think everybody agrees there’s few, if anybody, who really needs a gigabit yet, but there is demand and interest.

“It’s like anything, while we have got the excitement around it and the buzz, there’s an opportunity to really use it to our advantage as an industry.

“It can create pull-through and it can create demand in the industry as a whole.”

He cited the view that getting to 50% all-fibre households would take at least 10 years, but said industry needed to start investing now because customers “aren’t going to wait that long and neither are governments”.

Mr Pitt-Bailey, who compared the development of a gigabit broadband network as the “next frontier” for the industry, likened the idea to upscaling to a dream home – buying a slightly bigger place then re-using the investment to move again in a few years.

He said that every investment that operators made in ultrafast broadband should contribute to the end goal of a full fibre-to-the-home network supporting gigabit broadband.

He told us: “What we are saying is there’s a business case that can make it work. There’s a way to achieve it through using existing infrastructure and upgrades to help finance fibre in other parts.

“The industry recognises that fibre-to-the-home is the end game, it’s future-proofing.

“We are saying there’s a business case that makes it possible to get there quicker by using existing technology for upgrading from copper and then reinvesting.”

He said that the hype over 1Gbps broadband speeds was sparking debate and helping educate people on what gigabit networks actually are, the benefits they bring and why people need them.

He added: “I think the difficulty we have as an industry is we don’t tend to put it into terms that customers understand really. What is a gig? What can it achieve?

“If you say it’s five streams of Netflix, or you can watch three films in three different rooms at the same time, you can translate this.

“Already when 4K TV comes in, in the next couple of years you’re already going to need more than 100Mbps.

“But very soon we will start to see more than that in your tech-savvy homes.

“And obviously for business the more they adopt particularly cloud services, the more they get into using video conferencing or these sort of applications will drive their need for greater bandwidth and more reliable bandwidth.”

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