Fiber vs. LTE debate waging in UK

The debate between fiber and mobile networks could be a moot point, as optical cabling is necessary either way.

By Donna Donnawitz
June 26, 2012
In the United Kingdom, the Fiber Council Europe and regional telecom Everything Everywhere are fiercely debating whether business networks should be built out in fiber to the premise or 4G LTE systems, Computing reported.

Rupert Wood, lead analyst from market intelligence firm Analysys Mason, told the news source that Everything Everywhere's vision for 4G LTE could work effectively in a variety of sectors. Essentially, the networking technology offers the ability to access data from a variety of devices, providing businesses with flexibility that is vital to ongoing success in an increasingly mobile world. While conceding that limitations in the amount of bandwidth available in LTE systems could be a problem, Wood explained that most businesses do not need large amounts of bandwidth in their downstream networks. As a result, 4G LTE is ideal for many organizations.

Karin Ahl, president of the FTTH Council Europe, agreed that many business users may not need large amounts of bandwidth at the moment. However, Ahl told the news source that the rise of videoconferencing, cloud computing and other technologies are changing this dynamic, making high data throughput capabilities vital for more businesses.

"For example, in e-health, if an application is linking hospitals, they cannot afford for it to have a fault in the system, because if the system or image quality drops it may have an impact on a patient’s health," Ahl told Computing.

Bill McKenzie, a business consultant for Fujitsu, echoed this sentiment, adding that the retail and banking sectors are two other areas where high-bandwidth capabilities are becoming essential, the report explained.

"If a large retailer has many point-of-sale terminals, it could take weeks of guidance for the business to increment bandwidth into a store or into a distribution drive. There is a physical change that has to happen and there is a cost associated with that change. If the retailer had fiber it would only be a matter of changing the configuration around the application development, and the cost difference between the two is significant," McKenzie told the news source.

While the debate between fiber and 4G may rage on in many areas, the result, in many cases, is that fiber is always needed. While last-mile fiber deployment may not be needed when 4G is used for business networks, the mobile infrastructure that makes 4G LTE systems possible is usually supported by optical cabling systems in the backhaul network. As a result, increased fiber use is required regardless of which side ends up winning the fiber vs. 4G LTE debate.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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