The 12 months ahead hold big things for the telecommunications industry, especially with fiber expected to reach many more homes and businesses.

Here is the first of a two-part series on what this year has in store for OSP and broadband install and repair teams across North America.

How fast?

Until now a major obstacle to the expansion of FTTH has been the lack of existing cabling within most buildings capable of handling gigabit speeds except over short distances.

But in December, the International Telecommunications Union approved the new standard, which has the potential to turbo-charge all that copper cabling.

The Broadband Forum is developing a certification program, and will be hosting its first “plugfest” at the end of January. The ITU says a beta-trial is planned for mid-2015, and expects implementations to hit the market by the end of the year.

So in this case it’s not so much FTTH as FTTdp or fiber to the distribution point: a shoebox-sized fiber node that mounts to a telephone pole or wall and connects to existing copper lines leading to nearby houses.

Alternatively it could be installed in the basement of a multi-dwelling unit to boost broadband speeds for all the apartments by way of their telephone cables.

Copper cable is still improving, a recent Networks Asia article noted that 2014 saw an uptick in consumer demand for Cat6A, and the decline of Cat5e. The same article predicts that 2015 will be the year that the long awaited Cat8 standard reaches the market.

Fiber, fiber everywhere

In February 2014, Google announced that it had started discussions with 34 cities in nine metro areas including Portland, Nashville, and Atlanta “to explore what it would take to bring a new fiber-optic network to their community.”

Last February, the company promised that by the end of 2014 it would announce which cities it was planning to bring Google Fiber. That decision has been delayed and is expected early this year. (Google Fiber currently has networks in three cities: Provo, Utah; Kansas City, Missouri; and Austin, Texas.)

AT&T is is also moving forward with plans of their own. Last month they launched an all-fiber network in North Carolina. AT&T had previously announced that it would consider bringing fiber to more than 100 cities, but now says those plans are on hold until the net-neutrality debate is over.

Our next trend blog post will explore the explosive growth of wireless sensor networks, what Intel has in store for the Internet of Things with its new IoT Gateway, and—with the FCC set to vote on it in February—more about net neutrality.