FTTH: Good Results, But Penetration Still Limited

Carl Weinschenk

Carl Weinschenk spoke with Michael Render, president of RVA, LLC. The company earlier this month released a survey it did on behalf of the Fiber-to-the-Home Council. According to the survey, fiber-to-the-home is increasing in speed and offers the best bang for the buck for subscribers in terms of cost per megabit. Render says the momentum is being buoyed by the end of the recession and the arrival of stimulus funds.


"On the penetration side, availability continues to grow. Now we are seeing growth from the stimulus funds, which are finally being distributed. That will lead to growth in the next couple of years."

Michael Render

Weinschenk: Describe the background to the survey.

Render: Each year, we conduct research - two different major projects. One is of providers of FTTH and the other looks at consumers of all types of broadband. This most recent is the consumer research. We compared the use and experience of consumers of various types of broadband. This was a study of about 1,000 fiber-to-the-home users drawn randomly and about 1,000 other-type broadband consumers.


We conducted for the Fiber-to-the-Home Council. We've conducted it for several years, so we have some tracking. I think about four years now. The trends have generally stayed in an upward trajectory in terms of bandwidth for FTTH and the satisfaction levels. We looked at additional things this year that we couldn't in the past, such as the experience of very high-end users.


Weinschenk: What did you find this year?

Render: First of all, in terms of performance, the speeds continue to increase. The median FTTH speed is 19.7 megabits per second. On the download side, the cable speed is 13.3 Mbps and DSL is 2.9 Mbps. DSL is way down. Cable modem speed has been increasing as well as fiber. Cable is influenced by DOCSIS 3. DSL hasn't moved. These are tested speeds. We have people report their speed.


We asked people about price and calculated a cost per megabit. It was $2.91 per megabit to the home for fiber-to-the-home, $3.83 for cable modems and $16.40 for DSL. It was $17.50 for fixed wireless.


Weinschenk: What else did you see?

Render: Other things we saw in terms of performance were that there were less caps on usage. There's a belief that there are less limits on usage for fiber. People believe that they reboot less frequently with fiber. We saw things such as satisfaction corresponding to performance. It is higher for FTTH, second was cable modems and third was DSL. We saw it as the case of video - especially high-definition video. There were satisfaction differences between FTTH, cable TV and satellite TV. For example, the quality of the HD picture for fiber was 77 percent, for cable 56 percent and 55 percent for satellite.


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