FTTH Council releases latest North American numbers

APRIL 8, 2008 By Meghan Fuller Hanna -- Michael Render, president of RVA LLC and author of a biannual report on the North American FTTH market, provided a preview of his latest numbers in a FTTH Council-sponsored Webinar held yesterday afternoon. Render confirms that 10% of North American homes are now passed with fiber.

APRIL 8, 2008 By Meghan Fuller Hanna -- The number of fiber-to-the-home (search for FTTH) connections continues to double almost annually, noted Michael Render, president of RVA LLC and author of a biannual report on the North American FTTH market. There are now 2.91 million homes in the region connected via end-to-end fiber, up from 1.48 million connections as of April 2007.  

Render defines FTTH as fiber all the way to the living unit, used for services such as television, Internet, telephone, security, and meter reading. "We're tracking any way that fiber is being used all the way to the living unit," he explained in a FTTH Council-sponsored Webinar held yesterday.

Other highlights from the Webinar include the following:
• FTTH networks now pass 11.8 million homes, up from 8 million a year ago.
• The RBOCs--Verizon, AT&T, and Qwest--account for just over 2 million connections. A total of 593 non-RBOC providers, including ILECs, CLECs, municipalities, public utility districts, and developers, serve an additional 833,500 subscribers.
• 1.6 million homes now receive their television service via a fiber connection.
• Overall "take rate"--the percentage of those offered FTTH service who decide to subscribe--went up for the fourth straight six-month period. Today, 28.8% of homes marketed have opted to receive their services via FTTH.

Render also confirmed that we have reached a milestone 10% of North American homes now passed with fiber, with greater than 2% of those homes currently connected. However, he was quick to note that this penetration is not evenly distributed.

"Together, Verizon and the rural ILECs cover roughly one-third of U.S. households, and in these areas, 5.8% of homes are already connected with fiber," he said. "But in the two-thirds of the country that is covered by AT&T, Qwest, or Tier-2 ILECs--the larger independents that are multi-state--in this area, only 0.6% of homes are directly connected with fiber. And in this case, most of that build is from competitive providers, such as facilities-based CLECs, municipalities, and so forth."

On a brighter note, Render reported that the number of homes receiving 100-Megabit service--some 30 times the speed of what is offered by most cable and DSL Internet services today--has risen to 17,000 from 12,000 a year ago. 

"The 100-Megabit level of service is beyond what most people would need or use today, but it's interesting to note that some FTTH providers do offer it, and that a fairly large number of subscribers have it already," he said.

The FTTH Council has urged legislators and regulators to adopt a "100 Megabit Nation" policy and reduce barriers to next-generation broadband deployment.

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