Fiber Internet Surpasses 51% of U.S. Homes, Sets Record Growth

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A recent report by the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) reveals that fiber internet has now reached over half of U.S. households, surpassing 51.5% of primary homes. The survey, conducted by RVA LLC Market Research and Consulting on behalf of FBA, highlights 2023 as a record-setting year for annual fiber-to-the-home growth, with network operators connecting an unprecedented nine million new homes.

The total number of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) homes available to consumers increased by 13% this year, totaling 78 million homes, and reaching 69 million unique U.S. households when excluding multiple passings of the same home. The report predicts ongoing momentum in fiber deployments, estimating a potential market of over 100 million homes, ensuring sustained growth in the next decade.

While incumbent Tier 1 fiber providers lead with nearly 65% of homes passed, Tier 2 and Tier 3 ISPs, private competitive providers, and cable operators follow suit. Municipalities and rural electric providers, though holding smaller shares, have entered the fiber broadband market, with rural electric providers showing notable growth in the last five years.

Interestingly, fiber is increasingly reaching short-term rentals and second homes, reflecting a shifting preference for high-quality broadband networks. Deborah Kish, FBA VP of Research and Workforce Development, emphasizes the consistent growth in the preference for fiber.

However, challenges persist for fiber providers, particularly as they prepare to seek funding from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. According to RVA’s survey, labor availability and contractor quality top the list of challenges, followed by rising construction costs, materials concerns, permitting, and BEAD regulations.

Gary Bolton, FBA President, notes the industry’s substantial investment cycle for fiber, anticipating continued growth. Despite this optimism, he acknowledges an impending labor shortage, estimating a need for over 200,000 additional fiber technicians in the next five years to support projects across the U.S. Bolton suggests that the broadband industry’s challenges may intensify as BEAD funding flows and projects gain momentum.

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