Fiber Deployment Hitting on All Cylinders

Michael C. Render is sort of the godfather of fiber deployment predictions. His consulting group, RVA, LLC, has been tracking fiber deployment trends since the early days of fiber to the home. In the above interview, he summarizes some of the findings from his latest report.

Fiber to the Home passings growth over the past 20 years, courtesy of RVA, LLC
Fiber to the Home passings growth over the past 20 years, courtesy of RVA, LLC

He emphasizes that, even before the 2021 infrastructure bill, fiber’s growth has more doubled in the last 5-years and will continue this rapid growth. In his words, the industry is hitting on all cylinders thanks to the participation of multiple players, such as large ones like incumbent telcos and cable operators, as well as upstarts from rural electrics to municipal to private entities.

He recommends that, although Net Promoter Scores for fiber operators are better than other providers with alternative infrastructures, that they need to continue investing in customer support. Closely related to improving the customer experience is the in-home WiFi performance. RVA’s customer survey suggests a doubling of NPS for fiber operators that had an excellent WiFi solution compared to those without one.

Render’s excellent July 2021 analysis of the fiber market is a must-read. Part of his analysis looks at the potential impact of a $65B infusion of federal money on the supply chain, specifically whether there will be enough fiber. The good news is that this critical component doesn’t seem to be a limiting factor, even with the extra demand driven by the infrastructure bill. Having an adequately skilled workforce may be the biggest challenge. To that end, one of Render’s recommendations is to pace construction to an 8-year window.

He also recommends that “U.S. government funding should support U.S. jobs and U.S made materials, whenever possible.” Render recommends that the infrastructure be designed for symmetrical gigabit (minimum) speeds to serve both rural and urban needs. He cautions policymakers not to inadvertently “create a framework for a new digital divide tomorrow.”

This video was made possible by Calix.

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