economic charts

As the cable industry gears up to offer 10 Gbps, or 10G broadband, using DOCSIS technology, one research firm is predicting the economic impact of the technology. According to a report from Telecom Advisory Services funded by NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, the technology will have a $126.7 billion impact on gross domestic product (GDP) and create 376,000 jobs over seven years.

Cablelabs, the R&D arm of the cable industry, published its 10G specification earlier this year. Initially, cable 10G technology will support speeds of 6 Gbps upstream but there is a plan to support symmetrical 10 Gbps speeds in the future, the Telecom Advisory Services report notes. The cable 10G standard also calls for lower latency.

Supporting 10G will require cable companies to deploy fiber deeper into their networks, which use coaxial cable for the final link to individual homes, according to the report. The researchers expect cable companies to invest $81.4 billion to add 10G capabilities to their networks.

In addition, the researchers expect 10G to trigger $45.3 billion in indirect output, yielding the total GDP impact of $126.7 billion. Indirect output, according to the authors, is based on the need for “intermediate goods and services to support this evolution of cable broadband platforms.”

Of the 376,000 new jobs forecasted, approximately 217,000 job years will be in the construction sector, 51,000 in electronic equipment, 51,000 in other manufacturing sectors and 57,000 in other industries.

The authors point to a range of new use cases enabled by 10G, including precision agriculture, food processing, smart logistics and smart manufacturing.

Cable 10G Economic Impact

According to the Telecom Advisory Services report, titled “Assessing the Economic Potential of 10G Networks,” the cable 10G rollout is likely to take about seven years under current conditions. However, the report also includes policy recommendations that, according to the authors, could magnify the 10G economic impact by enabling the technology to be deployed within five years.

These policy recommendations include:

  • Providing tax exemptions to favor the evolution to 10G infrastructure
  • Reducing permit fees and other special impositions
  • Regulating the rates that municipal and cooperative electric utilities can charge for pole attachment. These companies serve about 28% of the U.S. population and are not regulated as tightly as investor-owned utilities, according to the report
  • Allowing Wi-Fi power levels sufficient to deliver whole-home gigabit Wi-Fi coverage and enabling unlicensed access to the lower 45 MHz of the 5.9 GHz band to allow a wider range of use cases

I always like to see reports that go beyond simply describing the use cases that new technologies can support but go a step further and attempt to quantify the impact of those use cases. One thing missing from the analysis, though, was any consideration of the competitive landscape.

Cable companies aren’t alone in gearing up to support 10 Gbps speeds. Technology is already available to support 10 Gbps speeds using passive optical network infrastructure that telecom providers have been deploying. This might not have altered the report’s findings. But I would like to have seen alternative technology options at least acknowledged.  

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