On Monday, I wrote about FIOS success in broadband and its use of fiber optics to improve speed and bandwidth. Historically, cable operators have used coaxial cable to the home which can slow down speeds as more users are attached to the node. Well as broadband becomes more valuable to a consumer than cable TV, Comcast is now upgrading its infrastructure in certain markets, replacing cable with fiber to the home. Great for consumers but most likely an expensive upgrade that will need to be reimbursed through higher fees.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Comcast and other cable operators are using fiber in any new builds that they are doing. Unfortunately, the report goes on to say that Comcast does not have plans to replace all existing coaxial with fiber. It certainly will get more expensive the longer they wait. With more consumers adding broadband subscriptions, usage will increase, and speeds will decrease at peak periods on coaxial cable systems. And with more homes streaming, the situation will continue to worsen. Fiber systems have higher capacity to handle increased usage.
In addition to fiber, more investment will be needed in technology that improves streaming capabilities and enhances speed. Given the limited number of players offering broadband, cable and telco, new competitors are needed to enter the space to help keep pricing in line; otherwise, consumers will only continue to see their data usage bills rise and rise some more. Demand for fast broadband access will only continue to rise.