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.”