Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fiber now connects 3.76 million US homes

We discuss home connectivity. Today, DSL and cable are the most commonly used home connectivity technologies, but we expect that, in the long run, we will have fiber links to our homes. Today, that is far from the case. A recent market research report estimates that fiber now passes 13.8 million U. S. homes and 3.76 million are broadband subscribers.

What percent of US homes is 3.76 million? Providing fiber links requires investment in equipment and trenches and installation -- which neighborhoods will operators focus on first? Will all neighborhoods eventually be served?


  1. 3.76 million is about 3% of U.S. households. In the U.S. high speed Internet connections are not being installed as fast as in other countries because our industry is not subsidized like it is in the countries that are ahead of us.

    According to ARS Technica “When it comes to fiber rollouts, too, countries like Korea, Japan, and Denmark are doing exceptionally well. Japan, for instance, has more than 6 million fiber connections. In the US, the largest fiber to the home network is being installed by Verizon. Though FiOS is popular, it had only half a million subscribers late in 2006.”

    Verizon also plans on upgrading existing DSL lines with new technology to improve speed and reliability. It looks like Verizon is going to move aggressively with both upgraded DSL and FiOS. According to Telecom Magazine, “With a plan to connect 18 million premises with fiber by the end of 2010, it’s safe to say that Verizon is probably the most ambitious of the large ILECs when it comes to broadband access.”


  2. Anonymous12:45 AM

    Subsidies or not, internet connectivity in this country has been appalling for well over a decade. There are various reports floating around (http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Ask_this.view&askthisid=186) that indicate telecommunication companies have received over $200 billion to implement some sort of Fiber To The Home(FTTH), yet it never happened in most cases. Some say that the cost of installing the service at the time was prohibitive.

    Well, assuming the telecoms have received this money over the years and that cost to install per household is $5,000; that would mean about 40 million homes should now have fiber. This clearly isn’t the case, so I have to wonder; what happened to all the taxes and fees that were collected over the years?

    It might not matter in the long run though. According to the Speed Matters 2008 Report (http://www.speedmatters.org/document-library/sourcematerials/cwa_report_on_internet_speeds_2008.pdf) by the Communications Workers of America:

    “The median download speed for the nation was 2.3 megabits per second (mbps). In Japan, the median download speed is 63 mbps, or 30 times faster than the U.S.

    The results of the 2008 speed test show little progress over last year. The 2007 results showed the median download speed for the 50 states and the District of Columbia was 1.9 megabits per second and the median upload speed was 371 kbps. In other words, between 2007 and 2008, the median download speed increased by only four-tenths of a megabit per second (from 1.9 mbps to 2.3 mbps), and the median upload speed barely changed (from 371 to 435 kbps). At this rate, it will take the United States more than 100 years to catch up with current Internet speeds in Japan.”

    Will it actually take that long? Probably not, but it is an interesting figure to look at, especially since the fastest speed in the US, which Verizon’s FiOS only started offering in June 2008, is 50 mbps. Mind you, Japan already has 100 mbps service.

    If the technology is out there, why wait? Perhaps they are waiting for Net Neutrality to be defeated…

  3. ason Anderson said...

    > There are various reports floating around ...

    Those estimates were made by Bruce Kushnick -- you can see more, with links to his work here.

    For more on this topic see these posts.

    On the other hand, the entire U. S. lag is not due to Verizon and other providers acting in their self interest -- our regulation and planning are weaker than some other nations, and we are geographically spread out. The cost of fiber per household is lower in a densely populated area.

  4. The EC is considering a policy of universal broadband connectivity. Verizon lobbyists would no doubt call such a policy interference with free, competitve markets. Is the US ISP industry a free, competitve market?

  5. I’m just very glad to see that at least we are making some progress as far as having new fiber Internet connections in the U.S. Web based applications are developing faster than anyone would ever imagined a few years ago. Fiber connections will benefit these applications. From experience I know that faster Internet connections in every home will, without a doubt, bring a whole new experience for those users used to slower Internet connections. When I switched from dial up to DSL, I noticed the difference and I thought when are we going to have fiber connection in our residential area?


  6. Although our country should be in the forefront of connectivity, we must not forget how fortunate we are to be in our current position compared to many underdeveloped countries. It is a bit cliche, but knowledge is power, and unfortunately not everyone in the world has the same access to it either because of lack of resources, infrastructure, or censorship.

  7. I think internet connectivity has come a long way. Ten years ago I remember waiting for quite a long time for pages to load. Nowadays pages load very rapidly. Fiber will eventually come into most homes but it will take time and money.