WASHINGTON, December 21, 2021 — Utilizing existing infrastructure can significantly lower the costs of fiber deployment to multi-dwelling units and help improve connectivity in unserved and underserved areas, according to panelists at a Broadband Breakfast Live Online event Dec. 14.
Although fiber deployment has become increasingly straightforward, MDUs such as apartment buildings and hotels still present major obstacles in the process, said Pierre Trudeau, president of Positron Access Solutions.
“It’s expensive, it takes time, it requires resources for fiber splicing… To some extent, it actually increases the digital divide, where now you have tenants with low-speed DSL or DOCSIS that are eager to sign up for much better service but simply cannot,” Trudeau said.
A technology standard known as G.hn has emerged as a solution to these concerns. Positron developed a G.hn Access Multiplexer that utilizes existing telephone wiring and coaxial cabling to increase capacity on older technology to deliver fiber-like speeds to MDUs in a cost-effective manner.
“The goal is gigabit, the goal is symmetrical and the goal is highly reliable,” said Robert Grosz, president of World Cinema, a data and connectivity services company that uses the technology in hotels. “And that’s what we’re seeing out of this technology.”
Screenshot of panelists from the Broadband Breakfast event
GAM installation is relatively simple, bypassing the prohibitively expensive and disruptive aspects of more traditional fiber buildout.
“We’ve built out a whole building in a week or less, so it’s a matter of days,” said Kevin Fisher, CEO of Sail Internet.
Deploying fiber to MDUs is often a digital equity issue. Many buildings with older wiring that hinders fiber deployment are concentrated in affordable housing communities, Grosz noted.
“We’ve gotten a number of calls from desperate children saying, ‘My mom’s community doesn’t have working internet, and she can’t Zoom with the grandkids because she doesn’t have a real internet connection,’” Grosz said.
The COVID-19 pandemic illuminated the importance of connectivity in employment, education, healthcare and communication, said Nicol Turner Lee, director of the Center for Technology Innovation. But even now, millions of Americans either lack home internet altogether or lack access to high-speed internet that can support high bandwidth uses such as video calling.
Property managers should view fiber as a benefit, not a burden
One of the unique challenges with MDU deployment is that it requires the involvement of the building owner in addition to the resident and the service provider.
Property owners may not want to disrupt their long-standing relationship with a cable operator, Fisher said. “They want choice, but they also don’t want to create problems, whether it’s contractual or concerns about the service quality for the tenants who want to continue using the coaxial cable.”
Sail Internet avoids this issue by utilizing twisted pair cables rather than coaxial cables, Fisher said.
Still, a lack of understanding is still a barrier to deployment, and more public education and awareness is needed in order for communities to fully take advantage of these solutions, Trudeau added.
Grosz agreed, saying that awareness was the “most powerful thing” that he could promote. Framing digital infrastructure as an asset, analogous to plumbing or any other part of a building, is the best way to convince property owners to invest in connectivity for their residents, he said.
Property managers sometimes view upgraded connectivity as a risk because of concerns over cost, failing to realize how essential broadband has become for many potential occupants, Lee said.
Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. Watch the event on Broadband Breakfast, or REGISTER HERE to join the conversation.
Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 12 Noon ET – In the Trenches: Better Broadband for Multi-Dwelling Units
Multi-dwelling units often pose challenges for carriers looking to expedite broadband deployment through fiber installation in underserved areas. Innovative access solutions that utilize existing infrastructure and future-proof technology can be a significant component in improving service without being prohibitively expensive and disruptive. This Live Online session will explore a model for successful MDU deployment through a start-to-finish case study.
- Kevin Fisher, CEO, Sail Internet
- Robert Grosz, President, World Cinema
- Nicol Turner Lee, Director, Center for Technology Innovation
- Pierre Trudeau, President & CTO, Positron Access Solutions
- Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast
Kevin Fisher has spent his career revolutionizing the high speed internet access experience for consumers and businesses. He has received more than 20 U.S. patents and his team developed the core technology behind the award-winning line of 2Wire HomePortal routers deployed by AT&T/U-verse and other major phone companies. Kevin has a passion for making new technology accessible, easy-to-use, and affordable on a mass scale.
Robert Grosz is a leader in the institutional real estate and technology industries with a 25-year track record of success. He is committed to helping institutional real estate owners and managers create value from investments in technology by enhancing the customer experience and forming long-lasting partnerships with best of breed technology solutions. Prior to World Cinema, he worked at Boingo Wireless and DISH Network.
Nicol Turner Lee is a senior fellow in Governance Studies, the director of the Center for Technology Innovation, and serves as Co-Editor-In-Chief of TechTank. Dr. Turner Lee’s portfolio includes research on public policies designed to enable equitable access to technology across the U.S. and to harness its power to create change in communities across the world. She has a forthcoming book on the U.S. digital divide titled Digitally Invisible: How the Internet is Creating the New Underclass (forthcoming 2022, Brookings Press).
Pierre Trudeau is the president and CTO of Positron Access Solutions and a seasoned Networking and Technology Executive with over 30 years of experience. Pierre founded Colubris Networks, a leader in advanced Wi-Fi solutions for Wireless ISP, Carriers and Enterprises in March 2000. He provided business and technology services to several companies until January 2013 when he joined Positron Access as its Chief Strategy Officer.
Drew Clark (moderator) is CEO of Breakfast Media LLC. He has led the Broadband Breakfast community since 2008. An early proponent of better broadband, better lives, he initially founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for broadband data. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over the leading media company advocating for higher-capacity internet everywhere through topical, timely and intelligent coverage. Clark also served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative.
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