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Ofcom UK Reveals the Truth about Fibre Optic Broadband Capacity

Posted: 24th Feb, 2010 By: MarkJ
Ofcom has published a new report from Analysys Mason, 'Fibre Capacity Limitations in Access Networks' (PDF), which examines a common misconception that next generation fibre optic broadband networks will not suffer from the same capacity issues that often ail existing technologies.

Ofcom Statement:

"With consumer demand for high-quality, multimedia-rich services expected to increase in the next decade, network operators are starting to deploy new access networks with fibre all the way to customer premises in order to dramatically increase the bandwidth they can provide.

It is often thought that these fibre networks offer infinite capacity; however, in reality, the practicalities of deployment, architectural choices and performance constraints of networking equipment will lead to capacity being limited. This study explores the future evolution of technologies used in fibre optic networks."

In reality Fibre Optic broadband is technically just a faster method of delivering access into homes and business. This is of course a significant improvement, yet often such networks must still suck their data from the same supplies as existed before.

fibre optic broadband capacity usage

That's one reason why a 100Mbps connection will not always run at 100Mbps. Fair Usage Policies (FUP) and or specific usage allowances will remain in use by many providers to help 'manage' the flow of data. Naturally bandwidth will get cheaper but it does not have "infinite capacity." Happily the report is still upbeat.

Concluding Observations

"From our analysis of fibre technologies and based on those services we can foresee, we believe that capacity is not currently a major limiting factor in access networks for most applications and deployments, and will not be in the short to medium term. We have actually demonstrated how, even if the demand is twice as much as we expect, there is likely to be plenty of bandwidth available.

We also believe that the increasing market for equipment (i.e. greater volume) and the implementation of photonic integrated circuit (PIC) technology should allow the necessary reduction in cost per unit to sustain successive generations of FTTH technologies."

Be warned that the Analysys Mason report does not make for a good bit of light afternoon reading and is both very long and complicated. Needless to say we'll be studying it for a few weeks.
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