Expert Touts Fiber As Only Method Of Deployment That Can Address Modern Broadband Needs

Ernesto Falcon of the EFF says expansion of fiber is the only way California keeps up with demand for broadband.

Expert Touts Fiber As Only Method Of Deployment That Can Address Modern Broadband Needs
Ernesto Falcon, left, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

May 20, 2021—Fiber is the only path forward for broadband policy, a senior legislative counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation said on a Fiber for Breakfast webcast.

Ernesto Falcon argued as much, suing the example of the shortcomings in current California policy and regulation.

On a Wednesday episode of Fiber for Breakfast weekly webcast, Ernesto made the case that fiber is the only method of broadband deployment that can sufficiently address the new ways that Californians use broadband in the wake of the pandemic.

He pointed out that state regulations that had been established in the past (and supported by many broadband providers) did not set standards that could accommodate modern traffic.

Falcon stated that communities need to be building networks that will hold up in five to ten years.

Building for the future has been a common theme among many key players in the industry, from Shirley Bloomfield at NTCA to the Federal Communications Commission’s Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

Despite the support that exists for the creation of more advanced networks, Falcon said that many large broadband providers prefer to deploy legacy technologies such as DSL.

Speed standards

Falcon noted that even action designed to address insufficient speed standards does not go far enough. He specifically referenced an executive order issued by California Gov. Gavin Newsom that benchmarked broadband download speeds at 100 Mbps, but left out the upload speed.

“Notably, [Newsom] said nothing about the upload [speed], which kind of gives you an idea of the influence of the legacy [broadband providers]—that they really can’t handle a high upload or transition to fiber.”

Even though he said he feels it is what customers deserve, Falcon said that legacy broadband providers will fight tooth and nail to not lay fiber in areas they do not want to. “They don’t want to spend the money necessary to keep up with that. And the longer they can pull it off in more places, and the less money they have to spend in their own network,” Falcon stated, “And I think that’s an unfortunate motivation.”

Falcon recently published a whitepaper with India McKinney outlining their suggestions for the Biden administration. In it they called for the FCC to raise the standard of broadband to 100 Mbps symmetrical service, and called for the reinstatement of the FCC’s authority to regulate broadband providers to help drive broadband infrastructure expansion in un(der)served communities.

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