Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

With the Cable-Tec show in Denver on the horizon this month, it’s time to state the obvious: Cable’s future is fiber. It’s a hard truth that tends to upset operators who have significant coax plant they want to avoid replacing, but the writing is on the wall, the ceiling, and on the billboards all over town.

Already, fiber makes up to 90% of many cable operators’ outside plant, including core network connections, long haul connectivity, and an increasing number of business customers that demand symmetrical speeds at data rates of 100 Mbps and greater. Numerous Tier 1 service providers in the industry are engaging in competitive replacement – let’s not call it overbuilding – of fiber in urban markets so they can match existing fiber offerings and the annoying creep of 5G fixed wireless services.

Public and private funding are opening new doors for expansion, with fiber the medium for cable providers to open neighboring territories. Instead of using coax for the last mile/last foot, greenfield builds deploy fiber from end to end, providing symmetrical speeds and simple upgrades instead of a morass of power-hungry RF splitters and repeaters that increase operational expense, especially when it comes to adding customers and ratcheting up speed.

The combination of fiber’s sustainability through lower power consumption, simplicity of technology compared to legacy RF coax plant, and ease of upgradability is leading some smaller operators to replace existing coax plant with fiber and there are likely to be joined by larger ones in the future as DOCSIS upgrades become more complex with every iteration. Certainly, there’s a clear technology path from DOCSIS 3.0 to 4.0, but the PowerPoint timeline projections for availability aren’t seamlessly mapping to real world supply chains.

At some point, adding more splitters and upgrading other RF gear becomes an exercise in diminishing returns, between planning, capital expense, truck rolls, and the potential for unscheduled service disruptions when something goes wrong in the field, along with having to train and certify technicians in technology that’s not as attractive as fiber. 

Operators will increasingly be driven to cut the coax because of its increased support and upgrade costs. Fiber provides a future-proof path with lower operational expenses and a more reliably network. Why not start down that path now rather than drag out the inevitable?

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 currently serves on the Fiber Broadband Association Senior Council Committee and has also held various leadership positions at the Fiber Broadband Association, including Board of Directors Chair for 2015, 2019, and 2022. Morgan holds an Electrical Engineering degree from Auburn University and an MBA from the University of Alabama.