Nearing two years with the COVID-19 virus in our lives, it’s no secret that our lives have undergone significant changes as a result. Some changes are completely new, like wearing masks or not being able to shake hands. Others were merely accelerations of changes that were a few years down the road--specifically, technological advances.
That’s according to Michael Philpott, Director of Research at Omdia. Philpott joined the Fiber Broadband Association’s Fiber for Breakfast series to share broadband findings from Omdia and discuss the importance of broadband to COVID-19 recovery.
Philpott said that as the world moved virtual, businesses had to become highly digitized to manage work and learn-from-home mandates, increased online shopping and ecommerce demands like online ordering at restaurants.
“Businesses and countries that already have advanced broadband networks will be able to spring back from this crisis, as well as manage other ones in the future, far better than most that do not,” Philpott said. “That puts a new focus back on the digital divide.”
High-quality broadband drives socioeconomic growth, he stressed.
According to research from Omdia, every doubling of broadband speed offered in a community equates to a .3% growth in GDP. Beyond that, a 10% increase in broadband penetration in a community brings between .25% and 1.2% growth in GDP.
“If you want to “level-up” not just countries, but the world as a whole, we must invest in not just broadband connectivity, but high-quality broadband connectivity,” Philpott said.
But, he noted, meeting consumer broadband demands is not all just about speed.
Yes, Philpott agreed that speed is important as we move towards technologies of tomorrow. However, he added, we also know that investing in today’s networks addresses the needs of today and the needs of the future. And the needs of the future are Gigabit speeds.
“When we put infrastructure in the ground today, we’re not just putting it in for what we’re doing today, but for the future. This technology will be in the ground for 20 or 30 years, and we must plan for that,” Philpott argued.
But consumers value more than just speed. Research from Omdia shows that consumers place high value on broadband reliability, customer service, a good Wi-Fi experience and high-quality applications and features.
“That’s why when we’re moving to higher quality, higher broadband type services, that fiber is a fundamental technology that will deliver that going forward,” he said.
Fiber has numerous benefits to the operator, as well, including increased ARPU, reduced churn, reduced maintenance, reduced infrastructure and reduced energy consumption.
“Going forward in the next five years, we do see DSL dropping off quite rapidly and being replaced by fiber,” he said. “Cable is holding quite strong, although this forecast was done at the start of the year and we’re just now going into a renewal of that data.”
Philpott went on to say that Europe is undergoing a much faster migration from cable to fiber, and that we may start seeing that in the United States soon.
“Broadband is essential to the COVID-19 recovery, and fiber is the backbone of that,” Philpott said. “The socioeconomic benefits it provides enable us to move to a cleaner, more sustainable world.”
He concluded by offering the following best practices for countries and communities seeking to prepare for the future’s broadband needs today:
- Set a national BB plan with concrete ambitious goals
- Remove all barriers to key infrastructure and building access
- Encourage use of existing resources and infrastructure sharing to minimize network overbuild
- Provide financial support through taxation incentives, subsidies, and public investment where necessary
- Implement regulatory flexibility, including removal of outdated or non-essential regulation
Listen to the full presentation by Michael Philpott on the Fiber for Breakfast podcast.