Fiber-to-the-home installs to grow 30 percent a year

The number of fiber-to-the-home deployments will rise 30 percent annually over the next five years, says research firm Heavy Reading, with 130 million households likely to have fiber hookups by 2013.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
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Fiber to the home (FTTH) installations are expected to shoot up 30 percent annually over the next five years, according to a report released Thursday by Heavy Reading.

Growing from 36 million households with fiber hookups last year, a record 130 million are likely to have fiber by 2013, according to a summary (PDF) of the report from Heavy Reading, the market research arm of Light Reading, an event company serving the worldwide communications market.

FTTH installations employ fiber-optic cables to replace the traditional copper wiring used in the last mile from the central office to the home. Fiber can deliver significantly higher speeds and greater bandwidth than copper, making it ideal for sending voice, video, and data.

Over the next five years, Asia will account for a large portion of FTTH deployments, with almost 85 million Asian households connected through fiber by 2013, the report says. Around 23 million connections are expected in the Americas, with most in the U.S., while 24 million households will have fiber throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

"FTTH deployments continued to make strong progress in 2008 and early 2009, despite the economic downturn, and prospects for continued growth through 2010 look good," says Graham Finnie, chief analyst with Heavy Reading and author of the report. "Last year, more than 9 million homes were added to the FTTH total, and in 2009 we expect that total to increase by almost 9 million again, to reach 47 million homes worldwide at the end of the year."

The economic downturn has stalled the progress of some companies deploying FTTH. Major firms like Verizon, which has been very successful with its FIOS rollouts, have been relatively unaffected, Heavy Reading says. But other supplies say FTTH business has dropped as much as 40 percent year over year.

The continuing demand for high bandwidth by consumers will pressure companies to roll out FTTH. However, price will still be a factor, says the report. The cost per household of FTTH (estimated to be between $500 and $2,500 depending on circumstances) will limit mass rollout in certain countries.

Still, over the longer haul, Heavy Reading predicts that FTTH will eventually reach 80 percent or more households in developed nations sometime over the next 15 to 20 years.