Fiber and Wireless Infrastructure Trends to Watch

By: Trent Anderson

Every industry feels the effects of the pandemic, including the need to change the status quo to adapt and overcome the struggles that surfaced during COVID-19. Specifically, the telecommunications industry experienced accelerated demand for reliable connectivity and major digital shifts as the world suddenly transitioned to virtual. To accommodate the connectivity shift from major metro areas to suburban and remote areas, the telecommunications industry has made thoughtful and strategic leaps to provide reliable connectivity, which has evolved into new trends for 2022.

Growing demands for wireless
and fiber infrastructure

More time at home and on devices

In February and March 2020, there was a sudden shift in utilization: an increase in residential demand for fiber broadband services. While this change was significant, it was not surprising. Recent findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that in 2020, 42 percent of people worked from home, compared to just 22 percent the year prior. People are spending more leisure time on Internet-connected devices, video games, and streaming services. Similarly, we have also seen a spike in how much time people spend on their smartphones and other mobile devices.

Everything in our temporarily virtual lives— from virtual classes, working from home, telehealth, and leisure activities—requires high-speed connections to send and receive data. This virtual shift drove increased demand from carriers who serve residential markets to increase their demand from network and infrastructure providers. Many carriers and cell towers in the midwestern United States have seen significant increases for mobile services firsthand. In the past, cell towers had standards of 50, 100, or 500 Mbps, but now are seeing 1 and 10 Gbps, which is far more common to account for this heightened demand.

As people continue to spend more time at home and their daily lives become intertwined with the need for fast and reliable Internet connectivity, we see not only increased demand for broadband and mobile services, but also a shift from large metro areas to residential and more remote communities.

Migration from metro areas to suburban and underserved communities

Another major shift affecting the telecommunications industry is the number of people moving away from major metropolitan areas. In fact, 82 percent of urban centers reported people moving away from large, urban markets and 91 percent of suburban counties saw more people moving in than out. Remote work opportunities mean people are no longer tied geographically to their employers. Because of this migration, there is a heightened demand for broadband infrastructure in suburban and underserved communities rather than fiber-dense metro areas. Income has become a factor nationwide during the pandemic, causing families to move out of urban, highly populated areas and into the suburbs for more affordable housing. This shift makes sense: as remote work is now an option for employees at businesses both large and small, families in high-cost housing markets have new mobility, and others may no longer need to commute to work in metro areas.  

Trending toward disaggregated services

Despite the increased demand for connectivity, we’re seeing a trend of services becoming disaggregated. Data center ownership and mid-sized networks are largely offering these services separately rather than combining them for customer efficiency. These disaggregated services cause customers to go to different providers and data center operators to acquire what they need to meet digital demands. Combining services simplifies solutions for customers, allowing them to accomplish more through one service provider. Companies that aggregate services such as data center services and fiber infrastructure can differentiate themselves in the market, becoming more competitive and, most importantly, a one-stop-shop for their customers.

Exponential growth of communications infrastructure

The pandemic has not just shifted the trajectory of the industry but has also accelerated growth and innovation. In the years ahead, we will see communications infrastructure continuing to grow at a consistent rate from the previous years to continue supporting ever-growing demands. It’s already clear that infrastructure—


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