Although wireless technologies like 4G/LTE are catching up, whens it comes to naming the gold standard of broadband connections, fiber connections are still at the top of the list
A recent report from the Fiber-To-The-Home Council Americas, reports the number of North American households connected directly into fiber networks grew by 13 percent over the previous year. Service providers are marketing fiber broadband services to 19.3 million homes, with 22.6 million homes passed. Ninety-five percent of theses totals are households in the United States, with 3% in Canada, and 2% located in Mexico and the Caribbean.
One fiber to the home project has received a lot of attention recently. The Google fiber to the home project, currently underway in Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO, will offer residents in those cities symmetrical 1 Gbps ('1000' Mbps speeds both download and upload). Google puts the high speeds in perspective this way - Google Fiber will deliver 1 gigabit Internet speeds – that’s roughly 20,000 times faster than dial-up and more than 100 times faster than a typical broadband connection!
The Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council describes itself as a "non-profit association consisting of companies and organizations that deliver video, Internet and/or voice services over high-bandwidth, next-generation, direct fiber optic connections - as well as those involved in planning and building FTTH networks. Its mission is to accelerate deployment of all-fiber access networks by demonstrating how fiber-enabled applications and solutions create value for service providers and their customers, promote economic development and enhance quality of life."
According to the report 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, as an increasing number of small and medium-sized incumbent telephone companies, most located in rural and small town areas, swap out their copper plant 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 these 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.
"The notion that the upgrade to FTTH can be a catalyst for economic development is precisely what is driving this enormous interest in high-speed fiber we are seeing at the community level across North America," said Heather Burnett Gold, President of the FTTH Council Americas. "Civic leaders in communities of all sizes have a sense that more bandwidth means more opportunities for economic progress."
"These latest numbers underscore that phenomenon in two ways - they show that smaller telecoms are continuing to upgrade to FTTH and that many are indeed seeing a positive economic impact in their communities after they deploy," she added.
The RVA survey also found that, on average, government supported FTTH stimulus projects are now 38 percent complete, with indications that many will start connecting subscribers this year. Environmental reviews and heavy demand for fiber optic cable were cited as reasons for the delays.
Meanwhile, the survey found growing activity among FTTH providers in fiber to the cell tower construction, with more than 1500 towers connected by small, single state providers in 2011.