FTTH Expands in North America

By Lindsay Welnick Comments
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The number of North American households connected directly into optical fiber networks grew by 13 percent over the past year, indicating that telecommunications companies of all sizes are continuing to upgrade to next-generation fiber to the home technologies, says the Fiber-to-the-Home Council Americas.

The Council has released new figures, prepared by the market analyst firm RVA LLC, showing that 900,000 households across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean were upgraded to FTTH service since April 2011. The total number of North American homes with all-fiber connections surged past 8 million. The figures showed that FTTH is now being offered to 19.3 million homes on the continent.

About 95 percent of FTTH households are in the United States, which began to see a significant expansion of fiber deployment in 2004 when Verizon began upgrading to FTTH in much of its wireline footprint.

Deployment in other North American countries is now beginning to rise. Canadian households now represent three percent of FTTH on the continent and the remaining two percent are in Mexico and the Caribbean.

While Verizon continues to be, by far, the largest FTTH provider on the continent, the number of FTTH network operators in North America is nearing 1,000.

An increasing number of small and medium-sized incumbent telephone companies, most located in rural and small town areas, are swapping out their copper plants with fiber so they can offer faster Internet speeds and a video service to stay competitive and bring next-generation connectivity to their communities.

Also building FTTH networks are a variety of competitive broadband companies, municipalities and public electric utilities. The vast majority of FTTH network operators serve fewer than 10,000 subscribers.

"The pure numbers of FTTH providers and their diversity is something that is uniquely North American. No other region of the world is seeing this," said Michael Render, president of RVA.

In a recent RVA survey, 58 percent of FTTH providers reported seeing increased local economic activity related to the availability of more robust, all-fiber networks they have deployed.

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