Cable Tech

Fiber Spreads in the USA

The number of U.S. cities being wired with fiber to the home has grown by 83 percent since October, according to a new study commissioned by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the FTTH Council (see FTTP Gets Plenty of Airtime ).

Fiber has been laid in 398 communities in 43 states and now passes 1,619,500 homes, according to the research, which was conducted by Render Vanderslice & Associates.

Estimates show that about a million of those homes were connected as part of the Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) FiOS fiber rollout (see Verizon Expands FTTP Plan). Verizon remains bullish on its promise to pass three million homes with fiber by year's end, and will offer each home up to 30 Mbit/s of bandwidth, a spokesman says (see Tracking Verizon's FTTP Progress).

When the last count was completed in October 2004, fiber drops had begun in only 217 U.S. communities.

The survey results were announced on Capitol Hill Tuesday by senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Gordon Smith (R-OR), with Verizon representatives on hand as well.

"We are in desperate need of next-generation broadband infrastructure,” Schumer said. Underscoring that desperate need, the FTTH Council notes at its Website: “Many analysts have identified online gaming as a significant driver of broadband demand.”

“I am committed to ensuring that it spreads throughout New York and throughout the country,” Schumer said. (He was referring to fiber, not online gaming.)

A list of the “fibered” communities can be found here (see Tracking Verizon's FTTP Progress).

The study says 829,700 of the homes already passed have been offered services over the new fiber, and that 198,000 have subscribed so far -- a take rate of 24 percent (see Qwest Building FTTP Network). By comparison, there are about 13.7 million DSL subscribers in the U.S.

One year ago, the same study reported that 128 communities had been passed in 32 states. While fiber deployment grew rapidly this year, the take rate has fallen; a year ago it was more than 40 percent, the study shows.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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