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FTTH survey finds telcos saving serious money by upgrading to all-fiber


April 2, 2013
By Anthony Capkun

April 2, 2013 – Small- and medium-sized telephone companies that have upgraded their networks to all-fiber are reporting operational cost savings averaging 20% annually, according to a study commissioned by the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council Americas, a non-profit group of nearly 300 companies and organizations dedicated to expanding the availability of ultra-high-speed, all-fiber broadband.

The survey of more than 350 telecom providers across North America, conducted by RVA LLC, also pointed to a “steady drumbeat” of FTTH deployment activity, with the number of homes that can access FTTH networks increasing by 17.6% over a year ago to 22.7 million. The number of households connected with FTTH now stands at 9.7 million, an increase of more than 20% over April 2012.

In the survey, the council asked telecom managers to report any cost savings they are experiencing in maintaining their network infrastructure once they upgraded from copper in the last mile to all-fiber. On average, respondents estimated those savings to be 20.4%, largely because of a decrease in ongoing repair and maintenance.

“This latest survey shows not only the continued build-out of high-bandwidth fiber to the home networks in North America, but also provides one reason why hundreds of small- and medium-sized telcos have been upgrading to fiber: it saves them real money in the long run,” said Heather Burnett Gold, the FTTH Council’s president.

FTTH connections have been expanding in recent years, says the council, as telephone companies in particular look to improve their competitiveness by offering television programming and faster internet, and as broadband providers in general prepare for ever-increasing consumer demand for more bandwidth and faster networks.

Although Bell Aliant in Canada and Verizon in the U.S. together are responsible for a large share of the FTTH connections on the continent, RVA has documented nearly 600 small- and medium-sized telcos that have upgraded at least part of their subscriber base to all-fiber, as well nearly 100 municipalities that have deployed FTTH networks as a public utility. FTTH networks have also been deployed by a number of competitive broadband service providers.

RVA found especially strong recent FTTH growth continuing in Canada, where more than 540,000 homes are now connected into all-fiber networks, compared with about 100,000 just three years ago. In addition, the survey showed renewed activity among real estate developers in building FTTH networks in planned communities, tracking the recent rebound in the housing construction market and a trend by builders of planned communities to install all-fiber networks in their new developments.

“While it is clear from our survey that many prospective FTTH providers continue to face funding difficulties and regulatory uncertainty, many are still finding ways to upgrade to all-fiber because doing so reduces their maintenance costs and strengthens their opportunities to expand their subscriber base and offer customers more services,” said Michael Render, president of RVA.