FTTH: Ten Million and Counting in North America

Carl Weinschenk
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Leadership Scorecard: The Top Six Telecom Vendors

The explosion of electronics of all sorts into everyone’s personal and business life caught the cable and telephone industry a bit flat-footed. Their networks, which are based on coaxial cable in the case of the cable television operators and copper in the case of the telcos, had to change, and change quickly to keep up with demand.

Earlier this month, RVA LLC, an analyst firm, reported that fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) installations in North America have passed the 10 million premises mark. The story on the report at Lightwave said that the United States accounts for 90 percent of the connections. The data, which was current as of September, shows that the number of homes passed is at 27.7 million. That is 3.4 million more than the previous September.

Verizon and its FiOS project has long been the big dog:

In the U.S., Tier 1 ILECs, led by Verizon, account for 76.7 percent of the country’s 9.6 million FTTH connections. Other ILECs have connected 10.4% of the country’s total FTTH subscribers, with municipalities and public utilities combining for another 4.2%. This last group has nearly half of the country’s gigabit networks, 11 of the 26 RVA have identified. Competitive access providers, including Google, account for another nine such networks.

Verizon reported some numbers of its own last week. Though FiOS has stopped expanding, it still is growing within its footprint. FierceTelecom reported that during the third quarter, revenue grew 13.4 percent to $2.8 billion, which is especially impressive during a quarter known for lackluster growth.

Verizon’s overall wireline revenue, the story reports, rose 4.3 percent to $3.7 billion. The story outlines subscriber growth, which featured 173,000 new Internet subscribers and a penetration gain of 39.2 percent, an increase of 2.2 percent over the year ago quarter. Video penetration was at 34.9 percent—2 percent more than the third quarter of 2012.

Verizon is the most influential FTTH telco player, but not the only one. GigaOm takes a look at CenturyLink fiber projects in Omaha and Las Vegas. The techniques being used and the time lines are different. The goal is the same, however: The company aims to provide 1Gbps service to homes.

Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), which is close to but not quite synonymous to 1Gbps service, is vital, writes Fredric Paul at Network World. After describing the slow progress the category has made, Paul lays out three reasons that FTTH is vital: It is an essential companion to the expanding universe of cloud services available, it is a necessary catalyst for innovation, and the competition among providers of such projects will benefit everyone—even people with lower incomes.

One company outside the telephone industry is serving as an important stimulant. Google Fiber is the wild card in all this. Light Reading’s Craig Leddy, in a story hyping a special report the site is releasing, contrasts Google across-the-board, fiber-based 1Gbps offering with cable’s approach, which is based on gradually moving subscribers to hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) networks being retrofit with versions 3 and 3.1 of its Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) protocols.

The bottom line is that 10 million of anything is a lot. But, when all is said and done, it may just be the beginning for fiber-to-the-home.

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