FBA Pitches Fiber-Only for Broadband Infrastructure Bucks

fiber optics
(Image credit: Carlos. E. Serrano/Getty Images)

With the Biden Administration's tens of billions of dollars in broadband subsidy money directed toward wired broadband--including billions to states for their buildout plans--the fiber business could boom, big time, according to its trade group.

The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) said Wednesday (January 5) that according to its latest study of fiber providers, more of that broadband plant could be deployed in the next five years than all the fiber deployed in the country to date.

That is predicated on all that infrastructure build-out money going to fiber, rather than cable, satellite or wireless, and would mean that a nationwide fiber buildout could be nearly wrapped up by the end of the decade, according to FBA.

The study, from RVA LLC Market Research & Consulting for FBA, found that fiber passes some 60.5 million homes, up 12% in 2021 and constituting over 40% of U.S. homes with access to fiber.

That growth has been driven by large telecoms and the top five cable MSOs, which together account for 72% of overall fiber broadband access, with regionals including Windstream, Frontier, Consolidated and TDS making accounting for about 10% of the growth.

There could be bumps along the path for a fully fibered nation, it points out, including supply chain and labor shortages, particularly for midsized and smaller providers.

Then there is making sure that the infrastructure funding is steered to fiber rather than for what FBA said would "irresponsible" investment in non-fiber broadband due to fiber's higher download and upload speeds.

For stage governments getting billions in buildout funds, FBA is teaming with NTCA-the Rural Broadband Association on a playbook for helping those states understand the value of steering their money toward "future-proof fiber networks." ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.