Over-the-top (OTT) devices and services have captured consumer attention in recent years, a trend that shows no signs of slowing. And that's good news for fiber.
According to a new report from Grand View Research, the global OTT market is expected to reach $165.13 billion by 2025, its growth compounded by fast-rising numbers of mobile and consumer electronics devices. To put it in perspective, the number of mobile phone users alone is expected to pass the five-billion mark by next year.
Here in the United States, OTT streaming video accounts for more than two thirds of all Internet traffic, Go-Globe finds. By 2020, streaming video is expected to account for a whopping 82% of all Internet traffic, the web application and development firm says.
OTT's popularity with young adults in the United States -- about six in ten US young adults use streaming as their primary way to watch television, says Pew Research -- also indicates it will continue to be a market mainstay well into the future.
This is all exciting news for those of us working in fiber broadband. OTT services depend on reliable, high-speed, low latency Internet connections and the ability to consume an immense amount of data -- and fiber leads all other access technologies in delivering each of these capabilities.
Fiber consistently provides faster download and upload speeds, maintains signal strength longer and further, has fewer service disruptions and offers less wait time than other technologies. It's no wonder, then, that overall satisfaction with fiber is, on average, 50.7% higher than DSL and cable services. Nor is it any surprise that people living in fiber-fed buildings also report they are satisfied with the property nearly 17% more than those who dwell in non-fiber-fed buildings, according to research from RVA.
Fiber also is prepared to take on the onslaught of data demand now, without the same need for expensive modifications and replacements that other technologies require. Fiber's quality and performance may have improved over time, but the basic design has stayed the same. On the other hand, copper has faced six major updates to its cabling structures since the 1990s alone. At the same time, cable's DOCSIS' continuous upgrades reflect how much consumers are demanding better, faster broadband from cable providers. Fiber is "future-proof." It can handle streaming traffic today, and will be able to reliably handle increasing traffic tomorrow.
The conversation about OTT and fiber broadband will continue as the industry pushes further into the connected future. In fact, in just a few days OTT will be the subject of a panel -- featuring speakers from the American Cable Association, UTOPIA Fiber, C Spire and MobiTV -- at our annual Fiber Connect conference in Nashville. Panelists will discuss where they see the OTT market going and fiber's role in that future.
OTT is a true opportunity for fiber to, once again, prove its immense value in an evolving marketplace.
— Heather Burnett Gold, President & CEO, Fiber Broadband Association. Follow her on Twitter @FiberMaven or @fiberbroadband.