Letter to the editor submitted by Gary Bolton, President & CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association, published in The Hill on Wednesday, October 26, 2022.
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. (Church, 1897)
A recent opinion piece, “There’s too much fiber in our broadband diet” by Scott Wallsten, is like Church’s story, a fiction, devoid of facts. The facts about the long-term economic and societal impact of fiber broaden are undeniable.
Scientists and engineers have developed design, manufacturing, and installation standards that ensure fiber can be the foundation for high-capacity networks for decades, far beyond the depreciation number that underpins Dr. Wallsten’s story. Many early networks deployed in the 1980s are still operational, 30-40 years after deployment. Billions of kilometers of fiber have been deployed around the world since then with no known limit to the “shelf life.” Many networks deployed in the 1980s are still operational, 30-40 years after deployment .
It's true that upgrade cycles occur with fiber optic networks. But unlike Dr. Wallsten’s fiction, the upgrades are typically associated with the electronics as operators add more capacity as services migrate from 100M to 1G to 10G and beyond. EPB of Chattanooga Tennessee deployed fiber optics in 2010 and became the first Gigabit City in the world and are now using the same fiber to become a 25 Gigabit City. An economic impact study found that this network resulted in 9,516 new jobs, 40% of all jobs created, and a $2.69B favorable economic impact.
Further, we are building out critical infrastructure for our nation’s future. Fiber Optics not only provides virtually limitless broadband capacity, ultra-low latency, and high resiliency, it provides the critical infrastructure for Smart Grid modernization, Public Safety, and a path to future services such as 5G.
In contrast to Dr. Wallsten’s fanciful fiction, which surely puts him on Santa’s naughty list, we are left to wonder Virginia if his article was a victim of auto correct and instead of depreciation, he meant to type appreciation.