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Flipping Fibre

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

Last week I had the privilege of chairing a panel discussion on behalf of TotalTelecom on the role of wireless networks in the government’s gigabit ambitions. It was a lively discussion and here’s the top 5 takeaways from that discussion.

  1. Customers don’t care about technology. Well they might sometimes, particularly where they have an abundance of choice, but the panel believed that wireless operators can match gigabit speeds offered by fibre operators and differentiate on customer service owing to their smaller size and local connections.

  2. Wireless networks are not confined solely to rural areas. Wireless operators are targeting urban edge, suburban and semi-rural areas where larger providers have not rolled out gigabit capable networks. Although this ‘window of opportunity’ is time-limited wireless operators can grab market share before they appear.

  3. Investors views wireless networks differently to fibre networks – but its changing. While the traditional fibre operator valuations have centred around fibre infrastructure, there are signs that this is changing with many more start-up altnets using PIA; in contrast wireless operator valuations are based on customers and revenue. Its important for wireless operators to grab early market share and drive revenues.

  4. Wireless operators don’t always operate pure wireless networks. In fact, they are a hybrid of fibre backhaul and wireless networks. However, wireless ISPs regularly replace wireless customer connections with fibre. This ‘flip to fibre’ strategy can improve customer lock-in, improve network reliability and its longevity.

  5. Wireless operators are counteracting the threat of fibre overbuild by wireless overbuild. As mentioned above the window of opportunity is often the limiting factor for a wireless operator’s growth. However, the panel were bullish that we will start to see wireless ISPs overbuild in areas with fibre availability. Now that I have to see.

Thanks to Steven Leighton of Voneus Broadband, David Burns of WISPA and Martin Harriman of CCS for taking part in the panel and to Christpoher Sedgwick of TotalTelecom for having me.

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