No Jitter is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Out with the Copper, in with the Fiber

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of IT executives on the subject of fiber and high-speed bandwidth. It is amazing how speaking and writing both interplay with my real job as a consultant. Obviously the consulting work is what drives my message, but it is interesting to see how the converse happens: Taking time to think for a presentation or article helps crystalize ideas into strategic actions, ones I often take directly back to my clients.

An SCTC colleague, Tim Proctor, had arranged a presentation with Florida-based fiber company, FPL FiberNet. Our presentation centered on the idea that there has been a significant uptick in fiber build outs and a continual decrease in the cost per bit. Our goal was to shine a new light on the subject, as well as to answer the "so what?" question that always needs to be answered.

I'll save the details of the presentation for a future lunch and learn near you, but the bottom line for me was this: We are reaching a pivotal point in our network history where the inevitable shift is at full speed.

I know we have been hearing this since the 1990s, but a few things have happened in the last few years that are dramatically changing the landscape. These factors are not just making the move to fiber more accessible, but are quickly making it a requirement:

  1. Bandwidth Demand – Increases in network use, primarily video, are pushing what bonded T1s can do. And while it is common practice to have fiber at large facilities, it will no longer be possible to provide adequate bandwidth over copper for those locations that have not made the move.

  2. Expansion of Fiber – While major cities were built out pretty well prior to the day the bubble burst, the extension of fiber into remote areas has been slow. As my colleague Tim pointed out, fiber companies are expanding their reach with special application-driven projects, such as cell towers. With cell towers needing fiber for the explosion of mobile data backhauling, we are seeing fiber in places we never thought would get it.

  3. Reduction in Cost – While costs have prevented many from taking the jump in the past, costs have tipped toward the favor of fiber. For the cost of a few bonded T1s, you can now get 10MB fiber, if not 100MB in many areas.

  4. Decline of Copper – In my April post, "America, We Have a Problem," I wrote about how copper is in real trouble. As the copper infrastructure ages, carriers are less interested in selling or supporting it. Lead times for repair have extended from hours into days, while pricing has risen in many cases. Copper is a dead man walking, and nobody is going to want to dump a lot of money into copper maintenance and upgrades.

Once you understand that the transition has to happen, and happen soon, you can begin the fun part of thinking what your business could do with high speed, low latency connections at every location. That process is where the real magic of fiber, if not all modern communications technology, is found.

So, as we work through this process, I would suggest the following keys to planning a successful transition:

  1. Plan Ahead – Yes, Captain Obvious here once again. But the point is fiber construction can take several months, if not a year or more to complete, even if fiber is already on your street. So the process needs to be allowed more time than one would give for a simple network upgrade.

  2. Inventory Fiber Availability at All Sites – Start with your existing provider, and ask them to qualify all copper sites. Find out who has what, along with the approximate costs and challenges of adding fiber. Depending on your situation, this may be as simple as a few conference calls. Or, it may become a project all on its own.

  3. Research Alternative Fiber Providers – As I mentioned before, there is an increasing amount of fiber out there; the trick is finding it. This is where you might need to employ some local knowledge to figure out what your options are. There are many fiber companies looking for projects to justify expansion, so talk to them even if they don't have fiber where you need it. They may be willing to run it to you with hopes of adding other customers in that area.

  4. Come to Terms with a Multi-Carrier Environment – If you are spread out around the country and/or operate in rural areas, it is likely you will need more than one carrier to provide fiber service. It is important to discuss the ramifications of this ahead of time so that the project doesn't get tripped up when it is discovered it is going to take a few providers to light up every site.

At the end of the day, this is not always going to be a quick and easy process. It will require time and resources to get this done. But the time to get started is now. Build a plan and work it. Bring in outside help if needed. Get moving. That copper out there in the ground ain't getting any younger. Or faster.

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC), an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

  • Expansion of Fiber – While major cities were built out pretty well prior to the day the bubble burst, the extension of fiber into remote areas has been slow. As my colleague Tim pointed out, fiber companies are expanding their reach with special application-driven projects, such as cell towers. With cell towers needing fiber for the explosion of mobile data backhauling, we are seeing fiber in places we never thought would get it.

  • Reduction in Cost – While costs have prevented many from taking the jump in the past, costs have tipped toward the favor of fiber. For the cost of a few bonded T1s, you can now get 10MB fiber, if not 100MB in many areas.

  • Decline of Copper – In my April post, "America, We Have a Problem," I wrote about how copper is in real trouble. As the copper infrastructure ages, carriers are less interested in selling or supporting it. Lead times for repair have extended from hours into days, while pricing has risen in many cases. Copper is a dead man walking, and nobody is going to want to dump a lot of money into copper maintenance and upgrades. Once you understand that the transition has to happen, and happen soon, you can begin the fun part of thinking what your business could do with high speed, low latency connections at every location. That process is where the real magic of fiber, if not all modern communications technology, is found.

    So, as we work through this process, I would suggest the following keys to planning a successful transition:

    1. Plan Ahead – Yes, Captain Obvious here once again. But the point is fiber construction can take several months, if not a year or more to complete, even if fiber is already on your street. So the process needs to be allowed more time than one would give for a simple network upgrade.

    2. Inventory Fiber Availability at All Sites – Start with your existing provider, and ask them to qualify all copper sites. Find out who has what, along with the approximate costs and challenges of adding fiber. Depending on your situation, this may be as simple as a few conference calls. Or, it may become a project all on its own.

    3. Research Alternative Fiber Providers – As I mentioned before, there is an increasing amount of fiber out there; the trick is finding it. This is where you might need to employ some local knowledge to figure out what your options are. There are many fiber companies looking for projects to justify expansion, so talk to them even if they don't have fiber where you need it. They may be willing to run it to you with hopes of adding other customers in that area.

    4. Come to Terms with a Multi-Carrier Environment – If you are spread out around the country and/or operate in rural areas, it is likely you will need more than one carrier to provide fiber service. It is important to discuss the ramifications of this ahead of time so that the project doesn't get tripped up when it is discovered it is going to take a few providers to light up every site.

    At the end of the day, this is not always going to be a quick and easy process. It will require time and resources to get this done. But the time to get started is now. Build a plan and work it. Bring in outside help if needed. Get moving. That copper out there in the ground ain't getting any younger. Or faster.

    "SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC), an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

  • Reduction in Cost – While costs have prevented many from taking the jump in the past, costs have tipped toward the favor of fiber. For the cost of a few bonded T1s, you can now get 10MB fiber, if not 100MB in many areas.

  • Decline of Copper – In my April post, "America, We Have a Problem," I wrote about how copper is in real trouble. As the copper infrastructure ages, carriers are less interested in selling or supporting it. Lead times for repair have extended from hours into days, while pricing has risen in many cases. Copper is a dead man walking, and nobody is going to want to dump a lot of money into copper maintenance and upgrades. Once you understand that the transition has to happen, and happen soon, you can begin the fun part of thinking what your business could do with high speed, low latency connections at every location. That process is where the real magic of fiber, if not all modern communications technology, is found.

    So, as we work through this process, I would suggest the following keys to planning a successful transition:

    1. Plan Ahead – Yes, Captain Obvious here once again. But the point is fiber construction can take several months, if not a year or more to complete, even if fiber is already on your street. So the process needs to be allowed more time than one would give for a simple network upgrade.

    2. Inventory Fiber Availability at All Sites – Start with your existing provider, and ask them to qualify all copper sites. Find out who has what, along with the approximate costs and challenges of adding fiber. Depending on your situation, this may be as simple as a few conference calls. Or, it may become a project all on its own.

    3. Research Alternative Fiber Providers – As I mentioned before, there is an increasing amount of fiber out there; the trick is finding it. This is where you might need to employ some local knowledge to figure out what your options are. There are many fiber companies looking for projects to justify expansion, so talk to them even if they don't have fiber where you need it. They may be willing to run it to you with hopes of adding other customers in that area.

    4. Come to Terms with a Multi-Carrier Environment – If you are spread out around the country and/or operate in rural areas, it is likely you will need more than one carrier to provide fiber service. It is important to discuss the ramifications of this ahead of time so that the project doesn't get tripped up when it is discovered it is going to take a few providers to light up every site.

    At the end of the day, this is not always going to be a quick and easy process. It will require time and resources to get this done. But the time to get started is now. Build a plan and work it. Bring in outside help if needed. Get moving. That copper out there in the ground ain't getting any younger. Or faster.

    "SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC), an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

  • Decline of Copper – In my April post, "America, We Have a Problem," I wrote about how copper is in real trouble. As the copper infrastructure ages, carriers are less interested in selling or supporting it. Lead times for repair have extended from hours into days, while pricing has risen in many cases. Copper is a dead man walking, and nobody is going to want to dump a lot of money into copper maintenance and upgrades. Once you understand that the transition has to happen, and happen soon, you can begin the fun part of thinking what your business could do with high speed, low latency connections at every location. That process is where the real magic of fiber, if not all modern communications technology, is found.

    So, as we work through this process, I would suggest the following keys to planning a successful transition:

    1. Plan Ahead – Yes, Captain Obvious here once again. But the point is fiber construction can take several months, if not a year or more to complete, even if fiber is already on your street. So the process needs to be allowed more time than one would give for a simple network upgrade.

    2. Inventory Fiber Availability at All Sites – Start with your existing provider, and ask them to qualify all copper sites. Find out who has what, along with the approximate costs and challenges of adding fiber. Depending on your situation, this may be as simple as a few conference calls. Or, it may become a project all on its own.

    3. Research Alternative Fiber Providers – As I mentioned before, there is an increasing amount of fiber out there; the trick is finding it. This is where you might need to employ some local knowledge to figure out what your options are. There are many fiber companies looking for projects to justify expansion, so talk to them even if they don't have fiber where you need it. They may be willing to run it to you with hopes of adding other customers in that area.

    4. Come to Terms with a Multi-Carrier Environment – If you are spread out around the country and/or operate in rural areas, it is likely you will need more than one carrier to provide fiber service. It is important to discuss the ramifications of this ahead of time so that the project doesn't get tripped up when it is discovered it is going to take a few providers to light up every site.

    At the end of the day, this is not always going to be a quick and easy process. It will require time and resources to get this done. But the time to get started is now. Build a plan and work it. Bring in outside help if needed. Get moving. That copper out there in the ground ain't getting any younger. Or faster.

    "SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC), an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

    1. Plan Ahead – Yes, Captain Obvious here once again. But the point is fiber construction can take several months, if not a year or more to complete, even if fiber is already on your street. So the process needs to be allowed more time than one would give for a simple network upgrade.

    2. Inventory Fiber Availability at All Sites – Start with your existing provider, and ask them to qualify all copper sites. Find out who has what, along with the approximate costs and challenges of adding fiber. Depending on your situation, this may be as simple as a few conference calls. Or, it may become a project all on its own.

    3. Research Alternative Fiber Providers – As I mentioned before, there is an increasing amount of fiber out there; the trick is finding it. This is where you might need to employ some local knowledge to figure out what your options are. There are many fiber companies looking for projects to justify expansion, so talk to them even if they don't have fiber where you need it. They may be willing to run it to you with hopes of adding other customers in that area.

    4. Come to Terms with a Multi-Carrier Environment – If you are spread out around the country and/or operate in rural areas, it is likely you will need more than one carrier to provide fiber service. It is important to discuss the ramifications of this ahead of time so that the project doesn't get tripped up when it is discovered it is going to take a few providers to light up every site.

    At the end of the day, this is not always going to be a quick and easy process. It will require time and resources to get this done. But the time to get started is now. Build a plan and work it. Bring in outside help if needed. Get moving. That copper out there in the ground ain't getting any younger. Or faster.

    "SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC), an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

  • Inventory Fiber Availability at All Sites – Start with your existing provider, and ask them to qualify all copper sites. Find out who has what, along with the approximate costs and challenges of adding fiber. Depending on your situation, this may be as simple as a few conference calls. Or, it may become a project all on its own.

  • Research Alternative Fiber Providers – As I mentioned before, there is an increasing amount of fiber out there; the trick is finding it. This is where you might need to employ some local knowledge to figure out what your options are. There are many fiber companies looking for projects to justify expansion, so talk to them even if they don't have fiber where you need it. They may be willing to run it to you with hopes of adding other customers in that area.

  • Come to Terms with a Multi-Carrier Environment – If you are spread out around the country and/or operate in rural areas, it is likely you will need more than one carrier to provide fiber service. It is important to discuss the ramifications of this ahead of time so that the project doesn't get tripped up when it is discovered it is going to take a few providers to light up every site. At the end of the day, this is not always going to be a quick and easy process. It will require time and resources to get this done. But the time to get started is now. Build a plan and work it. Bring in outside help if needed. Get moving. That copper out there in the ground ain't getting any younger. Or faster.

    "SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC), an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

  • Research Alternative Fiber Providers – As I mentioned before, there is an increasing amount of fiber out there; the trick is finding it. This is where you might need to employ some local knowledge to figure out what your options are. There are many fiber companies looking for projects to justify expansion, so talk to them even if they don't have fiber where you need it. They may be willing to run it to you with hopes of adding other customers in that area.

  • Come to Terms with a Multi-Carrier Environment – If you are spread out around the country and/or operate in rural areas, it is likely you will need more than one carrier to provide fiber service. It is important to discuss the ramifications of this ahead of time so that the project doesn't get tripped up when it is discovered it is going to take a few providers to light up every site. At the end of the day, this is not always going to be a quick and easy process. It will require time and resources to get this done. But the time to get started is now. Build a plan and work it. Bring in outside help if needed. Get moving. That copper out there in the ground ain't getting any younger. Or faster.

    "SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC), an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

  • Come to Terms with a Multi-Carrier Environment – If you are spread out around the country and/or operate in rural areas, it is likely you will need more than one carrier to provide fiber service. It is important to discuss the ramifications of this ahead of time so that the project doesn't get tripped up when it is discovered it is going to take a few providers to light up every site. At the end of the day, this is not always going to be a quick and easy process. It will require time and resources to get this done. But the time to get started is now. Build a plan and work it. Bring in outside help if needed. Get moving. That copper out there in the ground ain't getting any younger. Or faster.

    "SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants (SCTC), an international organization of independent information and communication technology (ICT) professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.