Fiber Consumption in the United States
No – we are not talking about your diet. According to the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council, FTTH networks are now available to more than 15 percent of homes in the United States. More than 9 million households across North America are now connected directly into high-speed, high-bandwidth fiber optic networks. Thousands of new connections are being made every day. Between the Stimulus grant monies and community driven agendas, providing a fiber broadband option is becoming more commonplace.
With this increased availability of fiber across the country, we took a more in-depth look to see not only what is available, but what the adoption of fiber looks like. To perform the analysis, we used our Broadband Scout Database. *
The BroadBand Scout Database is comprised of over a billion internet transactions that link consumers’ physical addresses to their specific broadband provider. The database is freshened on a frequent and periodic basis, allowing for the tracking of provider-level usage, technology adoption, and carrier market share shift.
For our initial view of Fiber Broadband adoption, we looked at consumer usage across geographic regions within the United States. Table 1 below summarizes usage across ten regions and the five technology types (including Fiber).
To guide you through reading the Table 1, we will use an example. We see that in the East North Central region that 57 percent of broadband users use a cable connection, 37 percent use DSL, 1.9 percent use Fiber, 1.0 percent use Satellite and 2.5 percent are using a Wireless provider. When specifically looking at Fiber usage across Regions, we see the following:
- The Mid-Atlantic region has nearly double the usage rate than average with 15 percent of all users having Fiber.
- On the other end of the spectrum, the East South Central and Mountain Regions have very little Fiber usage with only 0.7 percent using Fiber.
- There is a wide variance of Fiber usage by Region, and we contend that this dynamic is driven by the population densities of these different regions.
While Fiber usage varies by Region, it is also clear that these statistics are driven by where Fiber is actually available as an option. As such, in Table 2 we take a deeper look at data by limiting our view to those areas where Fiber usage is possible (i.e., available). **
Overall, we see that Fiber is being used or adopted about 25% of the time when Fiber is available. Even when Fiber is available, consumers are still most likely to use Cable (53%). However, it is very interesting to see the variance of adoption by Region when Fiber is an available option.
- In the Mid Atlantic where overall availability is highest, only 27 percent use Fiber when it is available.
- The highest adoption is the West South Central Region where nearly 42 percent have chosen Fiber.
- On the other end of the adoption spectrum, the East South Central and Mountain Regions are severely lagging with less than 4 percent of users choosing Fiber when it is available.
Summary and Conclusions
While it makes sense that there is more Fiber available in higher population dense places such as New York City, Portland or Providence, it is also clear that Fiber availability is not solely dependent on population density. As we look at adoption of Fiber where Fiber is available, we see a very different picture. Whereas the Mid-Atlantic region is the region most likely to be using a Fiber connection, it ranks as the fourth highest when looking at adoption of Fiber where available. Even though the West South Central Region does not have a lot of Fiber usage today (4.5%), it ranks first with adoption with nearly 42 percent of households adopting Fiber when available.
With FTTH projects springing up everywhere, it is critical that project planners not only look at population density and current broadband availability, but also look at what the likely adoption will be and where it needs to be priced. Be on the lookout for some of our upcoming blog posts where we are going to be discussing how population density and demographics impact the adoption of Fiber and other technologies.
* For this study, we took a random sample from the Broadband Scout database for transactions occurring between March 2013 and June 2014.
** For Fiber availability, we used the December 2013 National Broadband Map data from the NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative Program.