The flood of people relocating to urban areas creates more demand for ultra-broadband -- and G.fast, a technology that allows service providers to cost effectively and quickly satisfy this need.
The availability of affordable, fast broadband is a competitive advantage to the many cities vying for millennials and others anxious to trade the suburbs or country living for an urban lifestyle. In 2015, almost 82% of the United States' population lived in urban areas versus about 75% in 1990, a Statista chart shows. And the nation's population has grown to over 322 million in 2015 compared with about 250 million in 1990, the United States Census Bureau finds. That means in 2015, about 274 million people called cities home; in 1990, about 188 million dwelled in urban areas.
"For cities, these trends are not just about broadband networks; they are about the next generation of broadband-led urban development," wrote Blair Levin, nonresident senior fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program, executive director of Gig.U: The Next Generation Network Innovation Project and member of Hillary Clinton's technology advisory group in a Brookings Institution blog. "Just as technology is transforming agriculture, retail, manufacturing, and every other sector of the economy, technology is also transforming the way our society, and particularly cities, address the mission of providing vibrant communities in which individuals and families can thrive."
Urban dwellers typically live in multi-dwelling units (MDUs) such as apartments, condos and co-ops. MDUs as a percentage of all housing grew to 38% in 2015, about double the 17.7% they represented in 2010, according to a recent webinar hosted by IHS Markit.
Learn more during UBB2020's March 15 webinar, G.fast: Delivering on the Gigabit Promise, sponsored by
ADTRAN, Huawei and Viavi.
Most residents -- about 74% -- are between 30 and 44 years old, reports the "National Multifamily Housing Council
. And their income is growing at a more rapid clip than "all households," NMHC finds.
"There's a tremendous opportunity here for G.fast deployments. There are more than 30 million apartments in the USA alone," said John Kendall, principal analyst of service provider technology at IHS Markit, during the webinar. "Millennials are driving these trends. They grew up with broadband connections so it's a very important element in their lifestyle."
Although new construction is on the rise in many fast-growing cities, most residents live in buildings that have been around for years, if not decades. In MDUs, getting authorization to re-fiber a building can be a long, arduous (and expensive) prospect, said Craig Thomas, senior director of international marketing at Calix, during the IHS Markit webinar. Therefore, fiber to the home can be unfeasible.
"A scary thought is that more than one third of building managers do not believe broadband is important," he said, citing company research. "Pulling cable is costly and time consuming. The ability to go into a building, deploy a new solution like G.fast, use an existing infrastructure like copper and be ready within hours and minutes is crucial."
Fiber to the node is about one fourth of the cost of FTTH, said Andrew Long, group manager of the Access Business Unit at EXFO. Since so many sites have copper in-place, G.fast allows service providers and their customers to reap ultra-broadband benefits faster, for less money.
"G.fast has a great sweet spot in the middle, hence the reason many service providers are interested in deploying it," he said during the webinar.
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.