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Cable of the future

Cable of the future

Blog: Wilco Dekker on 'wireless' revolution

"Everything will be wireless", I heard someone say the other day. "What do you mean?", I asked, curious. "Well," the person answered, "In the years to come, customers can go wherever they want, knowing they don’t have to worry about a thing since they can take care of everything wirelessly. A wireless network will see to that, both indoors and outdoors."

This idea of the wireless revolution is often brought up in conversations. And I concur with that reasoning to a fair extent. However, I also feel I have to stand up for the good old fixed network, because the cable in the ground actually still plays a significant role in this scenario of the future.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been growing for years. Household appliances, garbage bins, meters, doors, windows, toilets, locks, matrasses and lamps are equipped with sensors that are all connected with that wireless network. Even lamp posts, cars, bicycles, solar panels, manhole covers, railway crossings, vegetable gardens, garments and shoes will have sensors. All those sensors register the status, motion or change of the object and send that data to a central data base, using the wireless network.

IoT supports many new applications, like autonomous cars, self-steering drones and smart city farming. The humongous amounts of data registered by all those sensors, need to be transmitted and filed. That results in an exponential growth in capacity requirements. The question is, will this wireless network be able to handle that? And who will pay for the huge investments necessary to enable that? And everyone will be using that wireless network, right? Then shouldn’t it be so, irrespective of who owns that network, that this network is accessible at all times if we are using it for every service we have in society?

VodafoneZiggo is working on that wireless 'connection to it all' using an advanced infrastructure. This network may seem wireless to the user, but is in fact a combination of many wireless 'cells' and a fixed connection in the ground. VodafoneZiggo combines the wireless power with a large network consisting of fibre- coax, in which the signal from source to customer travels for 97% via fibre and only the very last stretch via coax. VodafoneZiggo is connecting wireless cells with the internet and data servers at a rapid pace. The result is a high-density network. The technology is able to transmit 25 Gigabit per second via coax. More than enough for any household in the Netherlands.

VodafoneZiggo has frequent contacts with spatial and urban planners. After all, our network is becoming more and more linked to the digital infrastructure of a city. Smart cities, city farming, autonomous drones, self-driving cars and the Internet of Things become an integral part of the city. They are embedded in the design like electricity, water and sewerage. Internet is serving a general interest and it's impossible to imagine society today without it.

A lot will change the coming years. What is now a strategic insight, will then be considered a logical development. VodafoneZiggo is happy to raise the subject with municipalities and politics. Foresight is the essence of government. And foresight is exactly what VodafoneZiggo has. The future will be largely wireless, but cable will remain indispensable as the connecting link.

Wilco Dekker
Technology Strategy Manager VodafoneZiggo