2015 Broadband Predictions: The Year in Review

As with everything, technology is hard to predict. No matter how many strategic moves are made by big players, it’s only when time passes that we can gauge the outcome. ZCorum’s CTO, made some valid and insightful predictions last year, and he’s holding himself accountable for those that missed the mark. (He also has a new list for 2016 all ready to go so watch for that in January.)

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Let’s review 2015’s predictions and see how Scott did.

1. G.FAST BEGINS REPLACING ADSL 2+ VDSL2 COMBO CARDS AND G.FAST MODEMS BECOME WIDELY AVAILABLE. – Nailed this one. We’re seeing G.fast cards and CPE available from many vendors.

2. FCC MAKES THREATENING TITLE II SOUNDS, BUT INSTEAD BUMPS UP MINIMUM SPEED FOR BROADBAND CLASSIFICATION. – Very wrong on Net Neutrality, but the FCC did also bump the requirements for calling a service “broadband.” I’m not sure that consumers have even noticed that some services are being marketed as high speed Internet instead of broadband.

3. COMMUNITY WIFI EXPANSIONS WILL ACCELERATE AND MORE INTERNATIONAL DEALS WILL BE ANNOUNCED THIS YEAR. – Lots of new and ongoing deployments. Comcast and Liberty Global have led the way on international WiFi roaming agreements.

4. INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT) STILL WON’T HAVE A BUSINESS PLAN, BUT WILL KEEP GENERATING TONS OF HYPE. – This one is accurate for 2015 and will probably make the list for 2016 even though business plans are becoming more solid. Operators and consumers should be very wary of WiFi router offerings from Google and Amazon as they try and muscle into home networks in order to become the hubs for IoT.

5. NEW CYBER SECURITY REGULATIONS ARE LIKELY TO COME INTO PLAY BY SUMMER. – Not so much direct legislation or regulation but lots of emphasis on the NIST framework and more ominous sounds from Congress. I do think we will see movement on this front, but the election cycle seems to have put it on the back burner for right now.

6. NFV & SDN WILL START IMPACTING NETWORKING VENDOR REVENUES. THIS MAY BLUNT, FOR THE PATIENT, THE PRICE OF A DOCSIS 3.1 CMTS. – Other than Gainspeed, we haven’t seen much in deployable gear, and with the whole 3.1 ecosystem moving a bit slower than I anticipated, (see number 7) we haven’t had the kind of impetus to virtualize key parts of the infrastructure yet. Having said that, we are still seeing lots of money and time being spent on NFV for cable and telco operators.

7. DOCSIS 3.1 DEPLOYMENTS WILL GET STARTED IN SELECTED MARKETS. – This is only just now happening with SCTE in New Orleans being the first time most people could see a functioning 3.1 modem. I now think we’re likely to see trial deployments in 2nd quarter of 2016.

8. 4G CARRIERS WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE MONTHLY BANDWIDTH ALLOTMENTS. – This is happening very rapidly and is an area that cable and telco providers should be very concerned about as we’re seeing alliances with OTT video providers like Netflix and Hulu making deals with LTE carriers, especially T-Mobile, to zero rate their traffic. T-Mobile calls the service “Binge On” and allows for 24 (currently) different OTT offerings to be streamed to consumers without that data counting against their usage. This means that an LTE only connection is much more viable for consumers who want to completely cut the cord.

9. OTT VIDEO ADOPTION WILL ACCELERATE AND FACE SOMETHING OF A BACKLASH AS MORE MAINSTREAM CONSUMERS GIVE IT A TRY, BUT THE OVERALL YEAR WILL BE VERY GOOD FOR CORD CUTTERS. – The changes we’re seeing in #8 directly impact this as prior to these changes consumers still had to have a wired connection to the home. Now, that looks like less of a requirement at least for T-Mobile customers. I expect Sprint to quickly follow suit with AT&T and Verizon dragging their feet, but eventually offering similar plans. This means that all wireline providers need to focus on being OTT “friendly” and emphasize speeds and reliability for cord-cutters in their marketing and operations.

10. DUAL STACK IPV4/IPV6 DEPLOYMENTS WILL ACCELERATE AND AT THE SAME TIME CARRIER GRADE NAT (CGN) ADOPTION WILL ALSO INCREASE. – This is certainly happening as operators face the reality of how to transition to IPv6 as the IPv4 exhaustion hits home. Most operators are already trying to figure this out, and it’s especially painful for smaller operators as the gear tends to be quite pricey.

BONUS! NEW DDOS ATTACK VECTORS WILL BE FRONT AND CENTER. – We certainly saw huge increases in attacks this year with an emphasis on embedded devices like cable and DSL modems.