WASHINGTON, DC – The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) today announced the results of its 2021 Fiber Provider Study that reveals fiber broadband is strong and entering the largest investment cycle ever. The research, performed by RVA LLC Market Research & Consulting (RVA), shows that fiber broadband now passes over 60.5 million homes in the U.S. alone—a 12% growth in 2021.
The increase in deployments can be attributed to the fact that fiber continues to score higher than any other broadband technology—such as cable, satellite or wireless—in terms of capacity, reliability, latency and customer satisfaction. These benefits have created competition among more diverse sizes and types of service providers that are now racing to reach more subscribers with fiber. The Study suggests that if all federal infrastructure funding is directed at fiber, there could be more fiber deployed in the next five years than all the fiber deployed to-date, enabling the initial U.S. FTTH build to be nearing completion by the end of this decade.
The Study revealed that 43% of U.S. households and 60% of Canadian households now have access to fiber. Larger providers such as AT&T, Verizon, Lumen and the top five cable MSOs have built nearly three-fourths (72%) of overall fiber broadband access, with Tier 2 regional operators like Windstream, Frontier, Consolidated and TDS making up 10% of the growth. Unique to the U.S., over 1,200 Tier 3 market players with smaller projects ranging from a single state to three or four states compose the other 17% to 18% of the build. This group includes a mix of rural telcos, private competitive carriers, rural electric companies, smaller cable companies and municipalities.
While there is currently a steady increase in fiber deployments, there are several challenges that the industry will have to overcome before it can complete FTTH builds within this decade. Supply chain and labor shortages were the greatest perceived concern of mid-size and small providers. The FBA has welcomed several supply chain speakers on recent episodes of its Fiber for Breakfast series to offer guidance on how to navigate through the challenges. To address labor concerns, the FBA created its Optical Telecom Installation Certification (OpTIC) Program to design expert fiber broadband curriculum, fill the existing fiber skills gap and accelerate fiber deployments across North America.
Read the full announcement here.