Analysis: can 4G challenge FTTH as a business alternative?

By Sooraj Shah
19 Jun 2012 View Comments
Mobile mast

In the last few months there have been increased efforts in the UK to speed up the rollouts of 4G LTE technology and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband.

Further reading

Mobile operator Everything Everywhere has long campaigned for the rollout of 4G as it says the technology is essential for UK competitiveness, while the not-for-profit organisation, the FTTH Council Europe, has vowed to speed up deployment of all fibre access networks.

But at present, the UK’s high-speed credentials remain in dispute. Everything Everywhere’s rivals – including Vodafone and O2, who in June announced the merger of their network infrastructures – have backed the need for 4G technology, but are against Everything Everywhere being allowed to roll it out first.

In terms of FTTH, meanwhile, BT has suggested that the slower fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) approach, which relies on existing connections from the cabinet to the premises, is good enough for most of its customers.

That said, BT is launching its fibre-on-demand product, which upgrades FTTC connections to FTTH, in the spring of 2013, and Everything Everywhere is hoping to press ahead with its 4G launch before the end of this year.

Best of both worlds

Of course, in many cases businesses will use both mobile and fixed-line connections, but which technology offers the greatest advantage to business users – and to their customers?

In Everything Everywhere’s most recent survey, it found that 86 per cent of business leaders believed that access to a 4G network would increase productivity.

Rupert Wood, lead analyst from market intelligence firm Analysys Mason, believes that 4G could rival FTTH in specific sectors.

“There’s a significant threat to fixed broadband services in the broader sense from mobile wireless – that does not mean that LTE technology will be a direct competitor to next-generation fixed access,” he said. “However, there is a significant and real threat of [broadband] operators losing fixed broadband business, especially from those that do not value high-speed as they could trade ‘down’ to mobile.”


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