Fiber-to-the-home leaders and innovators for 2020
May/June 2020 By Broadband Communities Staff
“Building a Fiber-Connected World” is the tagline of Broadband Communities magazine, and each year the FTTH Top 100 list recognizes organizations that lead the way in this endeavor.
Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployment in the United States is beginning to outpace legacy copper broadband, a trend that is impacting service providers and their vendor suppliers.
Fiber continues to be a significant factor in the broadband race. Market research firm RVA revealed in its 2019-2023 North American Fiber Broadband Report that broadband providers had passed 49.2 million homes with fiber, up 17 percent in 2019.
RVA reports that smaller players will continue to have a role. In 2019, smaller providers represented 25 percent of new homes marketed and 41 percent of FTTH capital expenditures. Interestingly, the research firm said smaller providers have higher take rates – a higher percent with connections completed. As they continue to participate in FCC broadband funding programs such as the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, electric co-ops will continue take an active role in building out FTTH services. About 12 percent of U.S. rural electric co-ops have announced fiber builds.
However, RVA noted that “due to a dramatic cutback in AT&T fiber deployment, 2020 deployment will almost certainly be down – but still good by historic standards.”
Vendors also are seeing a transition in equipment sales. For example, Dell’Oro Group reported that the total global PON OLT equipment revenue reached $3 billion, up 16 percent from 2018. The research firm said 2019 PON OLT revenue gains come as vendors see sharp revenue declines in both DSL and cable infrastructure.
Gigabit service – and beyond – continues to drive fiber deployment. Large and small providers alike are not only offering 1 Gbps services but also eyeing a path to 10 Gbps via either XGS-PON or NG-PON2. Dell’Oro said total XGS-PON OLT port shipments increased 222 percent year over year, as more operators continue their shift to 10 Gbps fiber-to-the-premises networks.
Another key question is what effect the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the telecom industry overall. Dell’Oro reported that telecom capex outlook remains favorable, even with increased uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It expects worldwide telecom capex – the sum of wireless and wireline telecom investments – to grow at a 1 percent CAGR between 2019 and 2022.
It is no wonder the industry is expanding and the number of companies competing for the Top 100 slots continues to grow. That is great for the country, even if it makes life difficult for the editors who assemble this list.
The 2020 FTTH Top 100 list represents the whole fiber-to-the-home ecosystem. Optical fiber and fiber cables; passive equipment for connecting, protecting and managing fiber; and active equipment for sending and receiving signals over fiber are the most basic components of an FTTH network, along with software for planning, setting up and managing networks and for provisioning and billing fiber services. The list contains many companies that design, manufacture and distribute these essential products.
To put these pieces together requires firms that finance, plan, design, engineer, construct and install fiber optic networks, as well as those that make equipment for digging, pushing, pulling and attaching fiber. These, too, are represented on the list. Also included are several organizations that advocate for better broadband.
Finally, there would not be any fiber to the home if not for the deployers – large and small, private and public, incumbent and competitive – that invest in FTTH networks.
Companies newly added or reinstated to the list represent a variety of ecosystem niches.
Two of the new entrants – Nex-Tech and OTELCO – are incumbent telcos with CLEC subsidiaries. Having launched one of the first FTTH networks in Hill City, Kansas, in 1996, Nex-Tech was an early FTTH bloomer. Since that time, Nex-Tech has deployed fiber to more than 60 communities and previously underserved areas in Kansas. OTELCO, which traces its roots to the 1880s, is building out FTTH networks in towns and cities in parts of its seven-state territory that includes Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont, and West Virginia. It also works with communities in a variety of partnership arrangements.
The list also features UTOPIA Fiber. Created by a consortium of Utah cities, UTOPIA Fiber is a community-owned, open-access fiber network that promotes competition by giving customers the freedom to choose from various last-mile internet providers.
Joining these network operators are two companies that provide network planning and engineering services. Advantage Engineering has expertise designing more than 6,000 miles of fiber. Finally, OSPInsight, with roots providing network planning for metro area fiber-based Ethernet, has in recent years turned its attention to providing software for FTTH network operators to plan, design, build and operate their networks.
See the The FTTH Top 100 list on the original article at bbmag.com