Neither supply chain challenges nor workforce availability could stop the deployment of fiber in 2022, with the industry hitting the highest annual deployment ever, according to RVA LLC Market Research & Consulting (RVA). Fiber passed 7.9 million additional homes this year, with a total of 68 million fiber broadband passings in the U.S.
“It's about 13% year-over-year growth,” said Mike Render, founder and CEO of RVA. “We’re now at 20 million homes connected of that group. It’s all very good news for the industry.”
RVA has been doing research for the Fiber Broadband Association for the past 20 years, defining the addressable market for fiber and tracking deployments throughout North America. RVA estimates there are 130 million households in the United States and another 10 million second homes and rental properties that are candidates for fiber. With nearly half the potential market having access to fiber at this point, there’s plenty of growth to come over the next five years between federal BEAD money and private investment spurred by competition.
“Take rates have leveled off at about 45 percent,” Render said. “This is not bad. When you have a large build, it takes a while for consumers to sign up. AT&T has recently spoken how they’re getting to their first 20% much faster. It’s a good sign for the industry that penetration is happening very quickly.”
Most fiber consumers are offered speeds of over 1 Gigabit or more. Nearly 88% receive at least 1 Gig while another 10% are getting access to multi-gig speeds between 2 Gig to over 10 Gig or more, depending on the market. RVA expects fiber broadband to continue to grow in its share of the market as the medium replaces DSL offerings and continues to become the favored medium of choice in the cable industry for greenfield builds and in more competitive markets.
“We expect even bigger things in the next five years,” said Render. “Almost every company out there has announced big plans for fiber in the next five years. All the big telcos are doing so, they're trying to move to fiber quickly, they realize the existing copper they have is bleeding customers rapidly… Add to that all the great investment from the BEAD program and federal investment programs that are already out there. We don’t have an official forecast yet, but it definitely looks like a big step for the next five years.”
To learn more about fiber’s banner building year and what’s to come, tune in to the last Fiber for Breakfast podcast of 2022.