Given the growing demand for data on both fixed and mobile networks and the big size of the USA market, there is continuous pressure for operators to invest in fiber networks and to push connectivity closer to consumers.
In recent years the United States has seen increased activity from regional players as well as the major telcos and cablecos. Much of this activity was stimulated by Google Fiber following its investments in a number of markets. Although Google Fiber (now managed through Alphabet’s Access unit) began scaling back its efforts in late 2016, the company’s legacy has been profound. It encouraged the major providers to reduce pricing for their similar offers, stimulated interest among municipal leaders, and highlighted the fact that haphazard and potentially duplicated fiber deployments are no effective substitute for municipally-led wholesale fiber infrastructure accessible to any provider.
Local networks supported by municipal governments have also sprung up despite the lobbying efforts of AT&T and Verizon aimed at preventing local competition. However, for their part AT&T and Verizon have both refocused efforts on FTTP rather than FTTN, looking at the benefits of current investments for decades to come. G.fast is also being rolled out, to a lesser degree, in areas where FTTP is less feasible, while a growing number of cablecos have also deployed and DOCSIS3.1.
In the United States, the largest fiber to the premises (FTTP) deployment to date is Verizon’s FiOS, which covers 32 million people in the Northeastern United States. Verizon is the only Regional Bell Operating Company thus far to deploy FTTP on a large scale.
Verizon’s initial FTTP offering was based on broadband passive optical network (BPON) technology. Verizon has already upgraded to Gigabit PON or GPON, a faster optical access technology capable of providing 1Gbit/s speeds to consumers.
Lightower has the second most available fiber network, with 19 million people in the Northeast and the Midwest. Frontier is available to 10 million people across the country, and Monmouth is available to 8 million people in New Jersey.
The biggest benefit of fiber is that it can offer much faster speeds over much longer distances than traditional copper-based technologies like DSL and cable. The actual service depends on the company providing the service, but in most cases, fiber is the best bang for the buck broadband and future-proof for as long as we can tell. Even if typical broadband speeds become 1000 times faster in 20 years, a single existing fiber-optic connection can still support it.