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Fiber-Connected Subs Grew 13% In North America In Past Year: Trade Group

The number of North American households connected to all-fiber networks has climbed 13% since April 2011, to 8 million subscribers, according to a report from the Fiber-to-the-Home Council Americas, with Verizon's FiOS accounting for more than 60% of the total FTTH subs in the region.

Service providers now market fiber-to-the-home services to 19.3 million homes on the continent, with 22.6 million homes passed, according to figures prepared for the FTTH Council by market analyst firm RVA.

About 95% of North American FTTH households are in the U.S., while 3% are in Canada and the remaining 2% are in Mexico and the Caribbean.

One closely watched FTTH project is the Google Fiber rollout in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. The Internet giant plans to offer symmetrical 1 Gigabit per second broadband connections -- and possibly pay TV service -- to homes, businesses, schools and government institutions in the area, but Google has not announced pricing or availability.

Verizon is still by far the largest FTTH provider in North America, with 4.8 million FiOS Internet and 4.17 million FiOS TV subscribers at the end of 2011. The FiOS network passed 16.5 million premises at year-end 2011, up more than 900,000 year-over-year.

However, according to the FTTH Council, the number of FTTH network operators in North America is nearing 1,000, with a growing number of small and midsize incumbent telcos -- most in rural areas and small towns -- replace copper plant with fiber.

"The pure numbers of FTTH providers and their diversity is something that is uniquely North American," RVA president Michael Render said in a statement. "No other region of the world is seeing this."

Government-supported FTTH stimulus projects on average are now 38% complete, with environmental reviews and heavy demand for fiber-optic cable cited as reasons for the delays, according to the RVA report. Meanwhile, the survey also found growing activity among FTTH providers in fiber-to-wireless-tower construction, with more than 1,500 towers connected by small, single-state providers in 2011.