An adaption of Asimov’s Foundation series is currently airing on Apple TV. It was a good excuse for me to re-read the first book, the premise of which is basically this: by building a foundation that contains all human knowledge, a predicted thirty-thousand-year-long “dark age” can be shortened – potentially – to a mere thousand. Asimov then relates the implementation of this plan (the Seldon plan) across multiple chapters. It’s an intriguing concept that goes well beyond the merely literal spin I take here – that today’s effort and activity around building wired (and wireless/cellular) networks is foundational to our hyper-connected, hyper-communicating future.
The fiber builds happening across the U.S. are due to many factors – bridging the “digital divide,” increasing the overall availability of broadband and enabling 5G NR services, to name three. Fiber is key because it provides high throughput and scales well (particularly via C/D-WDM). Moreover, the high strand counts being deployed suggests that there will likely be a high ceiling of capacity for (hopefully) many years to come.
Some of the past week’s news include:
• Frontier entering a fiber partnership with AT&T
• In Indiana, AT&T partnering with Vanderburgh county to expand fiber broadband access
• Comcast Business expanding its network in several mid-Atlantic states
• TDS Telecom expanding its fiber network in a 7,300-strong town in Maine
• Consolidated launching gigabit broadband service to more than 6,500 homes and small businesses in Pennsylvania
• Also in Pennsylvania, Shentel began expanding the reach of its FTTH Glo Fiber network to another 6,000 homes and businesses
• Ziply Fiber securing $350 million in debt funding to continue its fiber expansion in the U.S. northwest
• Zayo entering the final phase of constructing its all-underground dark fiber routes.
Fiber is foundational to all networks, whatever the “last mile” connection is – FWA, cellular, Wi-Fi, satellite, cable, xDSL, mmWave or, ideally, fiber itself. Layered on top of these networks we’ll see all the apps we’re accustomed to (social, mapping, gaming, video calling and conferencing, messaging, etc.) along with those that are yet to come (connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles, AR/VR, smart city, etc.) and still more that no one has yet dreamed up.
Today, these are discrete networks operated by different companies and/or different units within the same companies. Over time, we expect that we (the industry and the people) will stop focusing on the individual networks and more on interconnecting the various foundations into a hyper-connected network across which everyone and everything communicates. It’s not Asimov’s Foundation. Not yet, anyway.