Editor's Log: Growing Up Fiber

October 2012, Vol. 67 No. 10

The fact that they do this – and have success -- in the face of stiff competition from mega-sized companies and local vendors further demonstrates the real and perceived needs and advantages of individual citizens, existing businesses and potential future companies and organizations – especially when evaluating an area for economic development. Fiber service has become an essential segment of private and business life at the local community level. Even better for citizens, these municipal roll-outs have forced established local and national companies to realize they have to compete again – they are no longer monopolies. Citizens and businesses in such areas have suddenly found better prices and enhanced services readily available from more than one vendor.

Yet, we struggle. Verizon has famously rolled out its fiber service over the past few years. However, when this project is complete, still only a fraction of their total service area will be capable of getting fiber to the premises. And the sections of the country they are bypassing in order to hit more lucrative, denser and larger population areas are, with increased frequency, deciding not to wait on Verizon to “someday” backtrack to their towns. They are forming their own municipal fiber programs.

AT&T will hopefully soon realize fiber is here to stay and finally start building out their network. Their hybrid service, U-verse, has done well – and generally works efficiently – but the system lacks the benefits and capabilities of true fiber to the premises such as speed. U-verse was the great experiment and proving ground for AT&T. They have learned how to be a competitive entertainment company as well as a phone and data provider. Perhaps most importantly, they have relearned the meaning of true customer service, so many times forgotten in the days of traditional telephone service. But it is time to take that knowledge and apply it to the modern market dynamic.