fiber buildingFiber-connected buildings represented 49.6 percent of U.S. commercial buildings as of year-end 2016, according to the latest market data from Vertical Systems Group. The so-called commercial building “fiber gap” – those without fiber network access – has been dropping steadily since 2004.

Nine in 10 U.S. commercial buildings lacked fiber network access in 2004. That dropped to 50.4 percent in 2016, Vertical Systems Group highlights.

Notably, active optical fiber is the most common means of delivering Carrier Ethernet services in the U.S. It’s also commonly used to provide dedicated access to high-speed Internet and cloud services, hybrid VPNs (virtual private networks) and emerging SDN-enabled (Software-Defined Networking) services, the market research provider points out.

“Fiber footprints have been highly valued assets in nearly every merger transaction in the industry during the past two years. The density of fiber lit buildings on-net and geographic reach are significant competitive differentiators,” said Rosemary Cochran, principal at Vertical Systems Group. “For 2017, network providers report that fiber footprint expansion is the top factor that will drive Carrier Ethernet growth and support rising demand for other gigabit-speed services.”

The news about fiber-connected buildings comes as the FCC gets set to establish new guidelines for business data services, which are expected to be less stringent than those proposed under the previous commission administration, which had expressed concerns about a lack of competition in the business services market.

Image courtesy of flickr user Matthew Wilson.

Joan Engebretson contributed material to this report.