Clearfield: Gfast is a Band-Aid solution for MDU broadband

Clearfield, a supplier of fiber management systems, says that while Gfast is may present itself as an attractive option to quickly get broadband into multi-dwelling units (MDUs), it can’t sustain itself as a long-term strategy.

Scot Bohaychyk, senior application engineer for the carrier group at Clearfield, told FierceTelecom that leveraging existing wiring allows AT&T and others to control costs, but it lacks the robustness a fiber connection can bring.

“Gfast is more of a band aid solution,” Bohaychyk said. “The carrier has to generate revenue, but what service providers are relying on in a Gfast world is optimal copper and coax plant condition.”

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Gfast has gotten a lot of attention lately, particularly as AT&T launched a plan to equip 22 markets with the technology.

While the service provider is focused on leveraging existing coax inside buildings outside of its wireline territory, the technology can also work over existing copper wiring.

Bohaychyk said that while service providers overall are looking to find a way to gain market share with a less minimally invasive technology, they will ultimately have to deploy fiber.

“Gfast is another technology that will give them a bit more time out of that copper that enables them to not lose a foothold in a market,” Bohaychyk said. “They can say they have got the market, but at the end of the day they’re going to have to migrate over to fiber.”

Bohaychyk added that while coax has some benefits, service providers face the challenge of getting access to the wiring. In many cases, some building owners still have exclusive contracts with local cable providers.

“The coax is often owned by the local cable company or building owner and a lot of times they have service agreements so all that time saving and revenue generating stuff means service providers have to negotiate new contracts,” Bohaychyk said. “By the time you get done screwing around with all that you could have put fiber in the building and have been done with it.”