JULY 12, 2007 -- A substantial portion of Americans who get their home Internet services through direct fiber-optic connections are using those services to telecommute an average of one-third of the time or to run their own home-based businesses, according to the results of a survey sponsored by the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council (search for the FTTH Council).
More than 13 percent of the respondents to the survey, conducted by RVA Market Research, said that their fiber-optic connections enable them to work from home more often -- a monthly average of 7.3 more workdays at home instead of the office. Some 59 percent of these telecommuters said that having an FTTH connection resulted in their employer being more favorable about their working from home.
Ten percent of respondents reported that they were using their FTTH connection to run a home-based business, with 90 percent of these saying that having a high-bandwidth fiber-optic connection was either "very important" or "somewhat important" to their business activities.
"With more than 1.5 million homes now wired with fiber and growth in FTTH continuing to accelerate, we are starting to get an indication of how this high-bandwidth technology is changing our culture," said Joe Savage, president of the FTTH Council. "Many people are reporting that their home connections to their employer's networks are faster than the connections in their office. These new online capabilities at home are giving them alternatives to long commutes and high gasoline prices, as well as new options with regard to where they live and how they conduct their work."
The RVA report, based on in-depth surveys of FTTH customers across the U.S., also found a high level of customer satisfaction with FTTH services, with 85% satisfied. These overall satisfaction rates were considerably higher than satisfaction rates measured for customers using cable modem, DSL, and dial-up connections.
In addition, more than a third of FTTH customers reported receiving lower price packages for competing services since fiber became available in their communities.
Respondents tested the download speeds of their FTTH services and found that 43.8 percent were downloading at transmission rates of between 5 and 10 Mbits/sec, while another 16.4 percent were operating at above 10 Mbits/sec, with the median download speed coming in at more than 5 Mbits/sec. This compares with the median real-time download speed of 1.9 Mbits/sec for all Internet users that was determined in a survey released last month by the Communications Workers of America.
Savage noted that companies like Verizon and Surewest are already offering 50-Mbit/sec service through their FTTH services, and that some public utility districts in Washington state are offering 100 Mbits/sec in their service areas.
Savage said that the majority of the 1.5 million FTTH connections in the U.S. are through Verizon's FiOS service, which last month announced its one millionth FiOS Internet customer. The remaining FTTH subscribers get their service from municipalities, local public utilities, and service providers in private real estate developments that are wired with fiber, as well as small rural telephone companies, medium-sized telephone service providers and cable companies, and private facilities-based competitive local exchange carriers.
Mike Render of RVA noted that the number of FTTH subscribers has doubled in each of the past two years, and that fiber-enabled telecommuting could have a wide impact as FTTH services expand to more people in the coming years.
"Of course, not everyone can work from home, no matter how robust their connections are," said Render. "But 13 percent working seven more days from home per month averages out to one more day at home per month for each FTTH-connected worker. As fiber to the home grows, and you begin to apply this impact across many millions of people, you can begin to see an impact on our commuting patterns -- resulting in fewer cars on the road, fewer gallons of gasoline being consumed, a reduction in greenhouse gases, and less traffic-induced stress on working Americans."
Further details on RVA's FTTH usage study can be found at the FTTH Council's website.
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