Oct 15, 2020 - Technology

It's time to prep for 10G

Illustration of a smart city wired up with lights

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The tantalizing prospect of 10G internet service — which would be 10 times faster than today's 1G networks — is starting to take shape, and soon city officials will need to set policy guidelines for this next generation of cable broadband.

Why it matters: For now, ubiquitous 1 gigabit internet is "really going to be needed to ensure that the U.S. is at the forefront of global economic growth and opportunity," says Angie Kronenberg of INCOMPAS, the internet and competitive networks trade association.

Background: CableLabs, the research arm of the cable industry, announced the advent of 10G in January 2019.

  • 80% of the U.S. is equipped for 1G service, up from just 4% in 2016.
  • But 10G is still considered futuristic.
  • The current focus is on getting money to extend today's network to underserved areas — so children won't have to take classes on a cellphone using free WiFi in a McDonald's parking lot.

Driving the news: INCOMPAS issued a new policy paper on Thursday — provided first to Axios — aimed at impressing lawmakers with the immediate need for broadband funding.

  • Over time, the aspiration is to build out the fiber network necessary for 10G and get everyone connected.

Details: 10G broadband, which goes to people's homes and powers their computers, is not to be confused with 5G, the next-gen standard for cellphone service.

  • But a ubiquitous fiber infrastructure is "going to support both the wired connectivity to the home as well as 5g wireless connectivity," Kronenberg said.
  • Only 32% of the U.S. has fiber access.

"A lot of construction has to happen," Kronenberg said.

  • In cities, this will mean stringing fiber along telephone poles or running it through conduits in the streets — or digging new trenches for it.
  • Cities that are out in front include San Francisco, Austin and Kansas City, Mo. — and Ames, Iowa, with a demonstration "smart home."

Last week, NCTA — the internet and television association — released a comprehensive study about 10G.

  • An author of it, Raul Katz, president of the consultancy Telecom Advisory Services, told me that the rollout of 10G will represent "a quantum leap."

The bottom line: Kronenberg's advice to city officials:

  • Plan for an effective and efficient permitting process.
  • Add networks, not fees.
  • Update maps to detect where connectivity problems lie.
  • Provide "future proof" networks by prioritizing the laying of fiber.
Go deeper