Figures released by the Fibre to the Home council show that the US is now second globally in connections of fibre to the home (FTTH). The US is a few years ahead of the UK in fibre roll outs so the numbers should give some indication of services and take up that could be achieved here in the UK.
Of US citizens, 61% currently have a broadband connection, 22% no Internet, and 17% still use dial-up. Fibre to the Home is available to 12% of US homes, and only 3.5% of those are connected (equating to approximately 5.7% of all broadband connections in the US). These statistics are for full fibre to the home deployment where each individual home receives a fibre to their premises, and excludes hybrid networks such as Fibre to the Cabinet that use copper for the connection to the actual home.
The figures projected forward for the end of September 2008 show that 13.8 million homes in North America will be passed by a FTTH service. Of those, 12.3 million are actually being marketed a service, and 3.7 million have taken it. That equates to a 30.4% take up rate, i.e. 30.4% of homes are taking a service where it is being actively marketed to them. 2.2 million of those using FTTH receive television services over it. The difference between 'homes passed' and 'homes marketed' is due to the continued build out of networks, and shows where a provider will market to a whole town at once rather than individual streets or communities.
|32%||Video on demand services|
|26%||Full length movie downloads|
|7%||Home business activities that
wouldn't be possible without FTTH
Of those under 35, the application people were most looking forward to is more feature-rich websites with full screen video. Of those over 55, it was face to face medical services with a doctor or nurse from home.
More than 80% of new housing developments are being deployed with FTTH technology. The cost of actually connecting up homes varies. It is based on two factors- the cost to connect a home, and the cost to pass a home (i.e. deploy fibre to an area). The average cost to connect each home generally lies within a range of about $1100 to $2500 depending on take up of service in the area.
One interesting point to note is that rural areas that are currently under served by existing services tend to have high take up rates of FTTH. This could apply well to areas in the UK such as the valleys in Wales where digital terrestrial television services can suffer poor signal quality, and a fibre based product offering television, high-speed Internet access and telephony services could prove popular. Comparing this with bustling towns and cities that already have access to ADSL2+ and cable broadband services, there could be little incentive for users to change to a fibre service without new applications.
Of some concern is the average download speed achieved by FTTH servces. In March 2008 the median was 7.0Mbps, up from 5.2Mbps in March 2007.