Without competitive pressure, fiber can be as slow as copper

26 May 2014 by Steve Blum
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A new home development on the back side of the former Ft. Ord in Monterey County is getting fiber to the home. But don’t confuse that with fiber-to-the-home service, which so far doesn’t appear to be in the cards.
The East Garrison development has been in the making for several years. It was ready to move forward just as the Californian housing crash came in 2008, which put it and several other nearby developments into a deep freeze. But the new home market is coming back, and fiber is tagging along for the ride.
Every lot is plumbed with fiber connections, and the homes themselves are pre-wired with Cat 5 cabling, or so the people in the sales office say. Not all the model homes have ethernet – RJ45 – jacks installed. Some just have coax connectors and standard RJ11 phone jacks. There’s a telecoms panel built into the master bedroom closet (a no-no, by the way, according to many service techs – bedroom closets have a way of getting filled to overflowing, making access difficult; better to put it somewhere less personal).
Unfortunately, the fiber might as well be copper, for all the difference it makes to the service Comcast and AT&T are offering. It’s good service – top of the line standard Uverse, for example – but nothing better or cheaper than the top end service packages available in surrounding communities, where the legacy copper plant will support it.
There are no plans – at least not public ones – to open up access to competitive providers, and little likelihood there will be, given that the incumbents appear to own it all. Perched up on a bluff, homeowners will be able to see a new middle mile fiber line planned for the Salinas Valley from their front yards (OK, with the help of strong binoculars…). At this point, that’s all they’ll be able to do with it.