Rural America

Among residents in cities and suburbs, about 55% have been passed by at least one fiber provider, while among those in small towns and rural areas, only about 42% have been passed, according to a study by RVA LLC. 

This leaves a small town/rural opportunity for an initial passing of about 22 million homes. (This does not include second homes and short-term rentals.)  

The “2024-2028 North American Fiber Broadband Report: FTTH and 5G Review And Forecast,” said that $150 billion will be spent on FTTH networks during the next five years. That spending, which the research firm claimed is more than has been spent on fiber to date, will come from network operator capex reinvestment, private equity investment, government subsidies and other sources.

The complementary spending, which also will be unprecedented, will be limited by workforce availability, permitting delays and other causes, the report stated — adding that the limiting factors will be particularly strong in the 2026 to 2028 timeframe.  

The report noted that growth of route miles of fiber will increase at almost double the rate of home passings during the forecast period.

RVA stated that the great increases in fiber deployment will be made by many types of service providers, including telecom companies, cable MSOs, private competitive providers, municipalities and rural electric cooperatives.

Tier 1 telephone companies will be the largest driver of the growth, although their share of FTTH homes passed is in long-term decline, falling fall from 93% in 2006 to 58% last year to 42% by 2028.

The report points to fiber’s popularity. “A total of 63% of all internet users now say they would prefer fiber if they had a choice, versus 24% coax, and 13% wireless, DSL or satellite. Because of this rising preference, overall average FTTH take rates are expected to increase even during construction acceleration,” the report states.

Last March, RVA said that there would be 100 million new fiber passings during the subsequent 10-year period. The investment from then until 2027 would be $135 billion.

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