"We expect the gap between coax and fiber to continue to narrow as we go forward," he said, noting fiber broadband providers now have almost 41 million homes passed and marketed in the United States. (Homes marketed, which represent 40.8 million, means the number of houses or multi-dwelling units that have fiber "in the area but, for one reason or another, may not be able to be connected to fiber," Render explained. In an MDU, for example, the fiber may be deployed to the apartment next door, but another building's owner contracted with a telco using Gfast and copper to deliver broadband, he said.)
Fiber: at Record Levels, but Small Cell Deployment Is Just Starting
This year alone, providers deployed fiber to 5.9 million homes marketed, according to RVA. In an apples-to-apples comparison, the second-highest rollout year was 2007: At that time, operators reached 4.2 million, the research firm found. Next year, however, the surge will decrease as AT&T's fiber deployment, said Render.
"We do expect that growth will go down a little bit, primarily because AT&T is a big player. In 2018 they're getting close to finishing, in the middle of next year, a build they committed to the FCC... " he said. "We are expecting that one player to create some small declines."
Tier 1 operators are few and powerful, but the 1,000-plus smaller providers across the United States alone have a commanding presence, according to RVA.
This year, they accounted for 29% of fiber builds, the report showed (versus 71% for tier one providers). RVA has tracked this data point since 2004: It's been steadily growing since 2014 and is the highest point ever.
Breaking down the type of provider is interesting, too. Tier 1 ILECs dominate, accounting for 72.6% of residential fiber rollouts in the US this year. Smaller ILECs represented 10.3%, followed by CLECs and then MSOs, which delivered 5.5% of residential fiber. Public municipalities provided fiber to 3.7%, while real-estate development integrators accounted for 1.1%, RVA found. Finally, rural electric coops deployed fiber to 0.5% of US homes -- a percentage that's small but growing, Render said.
"Take rates have been so spectacular they can see a business case here," he added. "We expect some pretty good growth out of that segment."
Although residential customers may be spread thin, fiber optic cables are ideal for other customers -- including distributed energy such as solar or wind, agriculture, forestry and government, said Render.
Deutsche Telekom just signed an infrastructure project with the Gigabit Region Stuttgart, home to 174 municipalities and almost 3 million people, one of many partnerships the German operator has inked in its bid to grow revenue and business.
Mobile and cable operators represented half the managed SD-WAN services market share in this fast-growing space, while other broadband providers such as ISPs and satellite operators also appeared on Vertical Systems Group's ranking.
By slashing subscriber pricing by more than $30 billion annually, Low Earth Orbit satellite companies led by Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk as well as OneWeb have the potential to usher in a whole new era of broadband.
In this insightful Light Reading radio show, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will outline the key service provider challenges, deployment considerations, next-gen Gigabit technologies, and service models to win market share in the rapidly growing MDU market.
The MDU market continues to face fierce competition among service providers due to tech-savvy residents (i.e., millennials), demand from building owners and management companies, plus the favorable economics of bulk contracts. However, no MDUs are the same, so service providers must use multiple technologies and inconsistent deployment models, increasing operational complexity and rollout costs.
The MDU market itself is evolving as residents adopt smart-home technologies, generating rising demand for smart apartments with built-in connected thermostats, keyless entryways and doors, and video doorbells. This evolution presents both new challenges and opportunities. In other words, service providers must consider innovative service-delivery strategies to compete and win.
In this Broadband World News and ADTRAN webinar, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will highlight emerging MDU broadband Internet trends and challenges. In addition, Kurt will outline the next-generation service creation and delivery platform, built on open standards, that allows service providers to connect millions of underserved MDUs, enables creation of user-driven services, and reduces operational complexity and costs.
Plus, special guest, Alice Lawson, Broadband and Cable Program Manager for the City of Seattle, will discuss Seattle’s B4B-Build For Broadband initiative that addresses best practices in planning for MDU telecommunication infrastructure.