Friday, October 27, 2006

Fiber is the future

In the long run, most of us will have fiber to our homes and other fixed locations. The cost of installing fiber is generally estimated at about $1,000 per home or building. You can see why it is so costly in this description of a Verizon fiber installation. (Incidentally, it is at the home of spreadsheet co-inventor Dan Bricklin).

While retrofitting old construction is expensive, the cost of installing fiber in a new housing tract or other new construction is relatively low and the maintenance cost is less than that for copper infrastructure.

The OECD reports that, as of June 2006, over 37% of broadband connections in the Czech Republic used fiber, 26% used fiber in Japan and 7% in the United States. (Of course the US and Japan have many more broadband connections than the Czech Republic). Many feel the deployment of communication infrastructure will impact the quality of life and economy in a nation.

While installing fiber is a daunting task in the United States, critics argue that the telephone and cable companies are slowing progress in order to maximize profit and minimize investment. Critics like Bruce Kushnick argue that US phone companies have already been given over $200 billion ($2,000 per household) in rate increases and tax breaks in return for commitments to install fiber which they reneged on. Kushnick recently stated his case in a PBS documentary on The Net at Risk.