Fiber to the home (FTTH) became the second most frequently used fixed broadband connection medium in North America during 2018, according to new figures from the Fiber Broadband Association and RVA, LLC. All-fiber access networks surpassed xDSL connections with nearly 60 million homes able to receive FTTH and 23.8 million homes connected.
The totals, which are current as of September 2018, represent a 22% increase from 2017 in terms of homes marketed (which RVA distinguishes from “homes passed” as a more telling indicator of market potential). Not surprisingly, most of these homes, 40.8 million, are in the U.S. Another 5.6 million are in Canada, 13.1 million in Mexico, and 350,000 in the Caribbean, according to RVC.
Looking closer at the U.S., new homes marketed hit a record 5.9 million in 2018, RVC reports. Of the 40.8 million homes marketed, 39.2 million are “unique” (in that they don’t have more than one all-fiber operator competing for their business). Overall, 18.4 million homes in the U.S. are connected via FTTH. All-fiber broadband network providers in the U.S. enjoy a 47% take rate on average, one of the strongest take rates globally, RVA LLC President Michael Render said during a webinar held last week to release the survey results. Tier 1 telco operators account for 72.6% of FTTH connections, with Tier 2 and 3 operators responsible for 10.3%. Cable operators oversee 5.5% of FTTH connections in the U.S., reports RVC.
Render said on the webinar that U.S. FTTH deployment growth may slow beginning next year, pointing out that AT&T should complete the majority of its AT&T Fiber deployments it promised the FCC when it acquired DirecTV within the next 12 months.
Meanwhile, Canadian operators are rolling out fiber faster than their U.S. counterparts, at least in terms of percentage of homes marketed versus total homes, Render noted during the webinar. Overall, FTTH still has a way to go to threaten hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) for the top spot on the broadband technology leader list. A little more than 50% of broadband connections in North America come via HFC, with not quite 25% coming via FTTH.
“The fiber industry is on fire,” said Lisa R. Youngers, president and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association. “Fiber holds the key for next-generation connectivity, from 5G to smart cities to the Internet of Things. This research and analysis helps keep the industry, consumers, and policymakers informed about our Association’s progress towards a better connected future. I am excited to work with our industry partners to keep up this momentum in 2019.”