One of the interesting debates among telecom industry analysts is focused on who has the right long term strategy – Verizon or AT&T. Verizon is moving forward with its well publicized FiOS initiative which is a true FTTH architecture. AT&T has decided that taking fiber all the way to the home is not necessary, and they’ve selected a fiber to the node (FTTN) strategy for U-verse. Or have they? Light Reading reports that AT&T is also committing to a GPON based FTTH architecture for many “greenfield” developments. For the time being AT&T’s FTTN deployments will far outnumber their FTTH deployments, with FTTH lines numbering in the “hundreds of thousands” versus millions for FTTN. It begs the question though, what if AT&T finds that their FTTH deployments create better ARPU or compete more effectively with cable? Will they then be forced to roll it out beyond just greenfield developments? And if so, will the current FTTN strategy be a waste of time and money?
Cable competitors will have options to increase their capability and competitive prowess with technologies like DOCSIS 3.0 and tru2way. How well they execute on those opportunities will go a long way in determining which telecom competitive position makes the most sense – FTTH or FTTN. It appears as if AT&T may be hedging their bets somewhat, by deploying technologies like GPON along with their core FTTN architecture. Perhaps we will find that AT&T’s and Verizon’s strategies are more closely aligned than we first thought.