A bit of due disclosure; I'm a Frontier subscriber and have been for years. It's done some very exciting things in the next generation communications space in the interim, some of which I fervently hope get out my way. Recently, it got together with Nokia (News - Alert) on one new such development in Connecticut, with Nokia providing its G.fast technology to drive up gigabit ultra-broadband systems across the state.
With Nokia G.fast in place, Frontier can speed up its rollout of fiber-quality speeds to customers in apartment buildings, as well as offer new data service and Internet protocol television (IPTV (News - Alert)) packages. By focusing its early operations on apartment buildings and similar multi-dwelling units (MDUs), it can set up proof-of-concept of the operation and plan greater rollouts elsewhere.
It's part of an effort to improve current copper networks; while certainly, fiber would be better, the costs to install new fiber are almost prohibitively high. That's a point that Google (News - Alert) found out when it launched its own next generation communications operation Google Fiber. While Google refocused its efforts on wireless connectivity, some who already had established copper systems in place like Frontier looked to improve these systems. Built-in vectoring technology helps pull some of the load off the system, reducing cross-talk interference and providing a better solution.
Frontier's executive vice president and chief technology officer Steve Gable noted “Nokia's field-proven G.fast solution will help Frontier quickly bring ultra-broadband access to customers by using the existing copper twisted pair wiring that is often found in apartment buildings. Without it, we'd have to drill holes and pull fiber into each apartment unit we serve, a time consuming and challenging process that can be frustrating for customers. Nokia's solution allows us to deliver new enhanced services without ever having to enter the place of residence.”
This is all fine and well—developments have to start somewhere—but the impact of this is comparatively limited and may not be that great a help to Frontier at all. After all, we've got to remember that we're maybe three years out from the commercial launch of 5G. If Google gets its hands on a similar wireless technology—and there's no real reason to assume it wouldn't—and starts setting it up nationwide, then that's it for most terrestrial providers. I'm a long-term Frontier subscriber myself, but if Google offered me Google Fiber via wireless and it worked any kind of well, that would likely be too much to pass up.
Frontier's Nokia-backed announcement is a welcome one, but it might be too little too late unless it can get this development out of apartment complexes and out to the rest of the subscriber base post haste.
Edited by Maurice Nagle