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Europe lags US in gigabit broadband deployments

Network test firm Viavi inaugurates its Global Gigabit Monitor, examining the pace of gigabit broadband roll-out around the world

There are now at least 350 live gigabit broadband deployments around the world, and well over 150 more under construction. However, roll-out in Europe is lagging North America by a considerable margin, according to a new report from network test and monitoring experts Viavi.

In its inaugural Global Gigabit Monitor report, Viavi examined networks around the world to build a picture of the state of ultrafast broadband roll-out.

It found that mobile, cable and telecoms service providers were all racing to deliver 1Gbps connectivity to their customers – 159 times faster than the current global average broadband speed of 6.3Mbps – but identified huge disparities in progress.

Viavi said the pace of deployment varied greatly, with North America having the largest share of announced gigabit broadband deployments at 61%, compared with just 24% in Europe. Asia, Australasia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America shared the remaining 15% of deployments.

Nevertheless, there were encouraging signs that the pace of gigabit deployments is ramping up, with more than 70% of the live deployments tracked having been launched since January 2015.

“The gigabit revolution is in full swing and faster speeds can’t come soon enough to feed an insatiable appetite for bandwidth,” said Viavi CTO Sameh Yamany.

“There are more than 20 billion connected devices and that number is continually increasing. For the consumer, there are obvious benefits. For society as a whole, research also shows that widely available broadband can be a driver for growth and jobs.

“And with a 100-fold increase in speed, service providers will need to ensure their ecosystems are ready for the massive network evolution required to deliver the customer experience they envision.”

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The survey looked at a variety of wired and wireless delivery mechanisms, including G-PON [fibre], DOCSIS 3.1, G.Fast, Long Term Evolution Advanced LTE-A, 5G and 802.11ac.

It found that 85% of gigabit deployments were based on optical fibre and 11% on hybrid-fibre coax (HFC), usually deployed by cable TV providers such as Virgin Media. A tiny minority, about 3%, were based on LTE-A, a gigabit-capable evolution of 4G LTE.

The report also said 5G mobile networks would begin to be rolled out in the coming months, with 37 carriers having announced plans and five hoping to have some kind of working 5G network in the field as early as 2017.

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