Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

One rarely spoken truth about 5G – and for that matter, today’s 4G LTE data services – is that it doesn’t work without fiber. AT&T has acknowledged that fiber plays a key role in the delivery of 5G services, and it is one of the many reasons why the company is investing in more fiber around the country and is rolling out 25G PON services in the near future.

Today’s 5G fiber picture is simple – no other media can deliver high-speed, low latency broadband in a cost-effective manner. Cell tower operators stopped talking about copper backhaul a long time ago, except how to replace them, while cable operators aren’t even in the picture. Over the past few years, we’ve all come to expect cellular data services capable of delivering at least 100 Mbps downstream speeds, feeding our need to join meetings from anywhere and watch the latest videos while relaxing at home or waiting to catch a plane.

Tomorrow’s 5G picture gets really complicated, as carriers move outside of “simple” cellular services and move into fixed wireless services meant to augment/replace copper offerings in urban areas, plus the concept of 5G “Ultrawideband” using millimeter-wave frequencies to crank speed rates to 11.  In certain select areas of the country, Verizon’s 5G Ultrawideband service is delivering multigigabit – yes, I said gigabit – downstream speeds and upstream speeds of over 100 Mbps. That is if you have the right device, are in the right cell zone, and are standing in the right place with a relatively unobstructed view of the cell tower.

Delivering 5G Ultrawide speeds more consistently will require hundreds to thousands of microcells deployed in urban and suburban areas, all linked by fiber to support all the cell phones and all the increasing speeds people have become accustomed to over the years. This need for speed – with apologies to Top Gun – is driving AT&T’s adoption of 25G PON since all those microcells will have to have low-latency, top-of-the-line, reliable broadband.

The irony/not-irony here is that as wireless carriers drive fiber deeper into their service areas, they open new opportunities for fiber customers once it is deployed for 5G. Since both AT&T and Verizon are using a “single network” model to support residential, business, and wireless services, once the fiber’s there feeding 5G microcells every thousand feet or so, it’s not that much farther to come back down the road and start hooking up MDUs and businesses into the network.

Kevin leads the marketing efforts for Clearfield as Chief Marketing Officer. He joined the fiber company in 2016, leveraging his extensive experience in advanced communications technology, fiber optic systems, and business product marketing. Prior to joining Clearfield, he spent two decades serving in various senior marketing positions at ADTRAN. Before that, he spent a decade at telephone operating company BellSouth, now a part of AT&T, where he worked as the lead broadband product evaluations resource in the Science & Technology department.

Morgan is currently the Fiber Broadband Association Chair of the Board of Directors. Morgan has also served in various leadership positions at the Fiber Broadband Association, including Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for 2021. Morgan holds an Electrical Engineering degree from Auburn University and an MBA from the University of Alabama.