FTTH Council survey shows widespread plans for FTTH networks

APRIL 14, 2010 — Hundreds of small independent telecoms, broadband service providers, municipalities, and cable television companies have brought gigabit-enabled, FTTH-based services to a total of more than 1.4 million North American homes — about a quarter of all fiber to the home connections on the continent — according to a report released by the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council. Even more service providers plan to join the trend, the study also reveals. (Download the report)

The study, conducted by RVA Market Research, found that all-fiber networks are now available to 16 percent of homes in North America, with 5.8 million homes now receiving television, high-speed Internet and/or phone service over these networks.

While a large portion of the FTTH deployment thus far has been due to Verizon’s $23 billion rollout, the report noted that FTTH is now being deployed by more than 750 service providers across North America. Most of these service providers are small, independent telephone companies that are replacing their copper lines with end-to-end fiber to ensure their future competitiveness as broadband providers.

Further, the study found that more than 65 percent of small independent telephone companies that have not upgraded to FTTH said they would very likely do so in the future, with another 11 percent saying they were somewhat likely. More than 85 percent of those that have already deployed FTTH said they would be adding more direct fiber connections going forward.

“With Verizon approaching the end of its initial FiOS expansion, we are seeing a lot of small local exchange carriers in the U.S. who are ready to pick up the slack, along with some cable-TV companies deploying RFoG and some larger Canadian companies going FTTH,” said Joe Savage, president of the FTTH Council.

“To continue to meet the rapidly growing bandwidth requirements for emerging applications and services, these companies know that they have to ‘future-proof’ their networks by running fiber all the way to the premises — and that’s why we are seeing all this activity,” he added.

Savage said he is delighted that Google’s plan to build gigabit FTTH networks in several cities has raised awareness of how many communities want to superfast connections. “But our survey results show that many communities aren’t waiting and are instead taking matters into their own hands, sometimes through their local telephone or cable companies, and in some cases by operating their own FTTH network as a public utility,” he said.

Mike Render, president of RVA LLC and the author of the study, said there are a number of reasons independent telecoms are flocking to FTTH, including the need to replace aging copper lines, the opportunity to include video in their service offerings, and in some cases the availability of rural broadband loan programs and stimulus funds (see “USDA announces 22 RUS BIP broadband stimulus grants” for an example).

“A common element of these small ILEC’s and the municipal FTTH systems is that when they roll out their all-fiber service they get remarkably great take-rates, averaging above 50 percent,” said Render, referring to the percentage of households that subscribe to the new service after receiving information about it. “In many cases, these small telephone companies are longtime family-owned businesses that are deeply involved in local affairs and are responsive to their community needs for faster broadband as a key to future economic development.”

About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
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