NTCA: Rural operators embracing fiber broadband

NTCA members report that 64% of their customers (on average) will receive services via fiber to the premises (FTTP) by the end of 2020, with just more than half of survey respondents predicting that this number will reach approximately 85% by 2025.

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NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association released results of an annual study of its members that indicates rural cable operators and other broadband service providers are increasing their deployments of fiber broadband infrastructures. NTCA members report that 64% of their customers (on average) will receive services via fiber to the premises (FTTP) by the end of 2020, with just more than half of survey respondents predicting that this number will reach approximately 85% by 2025.

The association, which represents almost 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies, states in the “NTCA 2019 Broadband/Internet Availability Survey Report” that its members reach 80% of the primary/secondary schools in their coverage areas via fiber. The survey respondents indicated that they can deliver more than 1 Gbps on average to such anchor institutions.

Among the rest of the customer demographic, 25% have access to gigabit broadband, more than 60% can select 100-Mbps services, and more than 75% have access to the FCC’s targeted broadband rate baseline of 25 Mbps. Approximately 18% of customers subscribe to services of at least 100 Mbps, according to the report. NTCA received input for the report from 36% of its members.

“NTCA members have made great strides in driving deployment of scalable networks and stimulating adoption of broadband services in their communities,” said NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield. “In doing so, they have made significant contributions to the safety, health, and well-being of their customers. Although much work remains to advance and sustain broadband in rural America, NTCA members have yet again proven themselves to be at the forefront in aiming higher and doing better for their communities.”

Such progress has faced several barriers, according to the survey. Cost tops the list, cited by just over 91% of respondents. Long loops were cited by 55% of those in the survey, with approximately 44% adding regulatory uncertainty as a hindrance. The NTCA notes that this last factor was cited by 59.4% of respondents the previous year. The survey is available via the NTCA website.

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