As they seek to compete against major telcos like AT&T, Verizon and BT building out FTTH networks to offer gigabit broadband speeds, cable operators should increasingly be looking to go all-fiber themselves, or at least extend fiber deeper in their existing HFC networks.
That's the greatest takeaway from Broadband World News' recent reader poll about cable's next-gen tech priorities. In the poll, nearly 28% of our readers said they view "constructing new FTTH networks" as the top priority for cable providers this year.
Further, another 18% of poll respondents said cable's highest priority should be "extending fiber deeper into the access network." All told, this means that nearly half of our readers (or 46%) see adding more fiber as the most important move that cablecos could make in 2018.
To be sure, many readers think that "rolling out DOCSIS 3.1 and gigabit speeds" remains the main priority for cable operators, with slightly more than 24% of respondents choosing this option. But that figure represents a drop from the 27% who chose that option in a similar BBWN poll last spring, when DOCSIS 3.1 topped the scales along with Fiber Deep.
Surprisingly, less than 4% of poll respondents selected "implementing a Distributed Access Architecture approach" as the biggest priority for cable this year. That's down from more than 14% in last year's survey. But that could be because many cablecos have already started moving in the DAA direction with trials and pilot deployments. Or it could just be due to the relatively small survey sample of 87 respondents. (See Cable DAA Debuts Worldwide.)
In other notable results, more than 11% of respondents said "developing a competitive wireless service" should be the top goal for cable operators, up slightly from just under 10% in 2017. Some 8% picked "beginning to virtualize key network functions," down slightly from just under 10% last year.
Another 7% said cable operators should just "give up and get out of the business." But perhaps they just need more fiber in their backbones.
Don't forget to take BBWN's latest reader poll: "What is the biggest drain on your budget -- and, perhaps, customer experience?"
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading