Ovum, RVA differ on the fiber-based broadband opportunity

Bandwidth an important consideration in predictions
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Fiber to the Home (FTTH) may have the allure of greater bandwidth that a traditional cable or DSL connection can't match, but the analyst community does not agree on how fast it's going to grow.

On one hand, there's RVA LLC. The analyst firm, an ardent fiber-based broadband cheerleader, reported in its new "North American Fiber To The Home and Advanced Broadband Review and Forecast to 2017" that FTTH deployment will grow $4.7 billion annually by 2017, or $18 billion cumulatively over the next five years.

A big portion of the revenue growth, explains RVA, will come from high bandwidth capacity users of speeds of 50, 100 and 1 Gbps speeds. These higher-speed services are forecast to reach "$4 billion by 2017, or $9 billion cumulatively over the next five years."

Two service providers that are gaining the most attention on the U.S. FTTH front are Verizon and Google Fiber.

Verizon introduced its Quantum 300 Mbps data speed tier, while doubling a number of its existing FiOS speed tiers last May.

Google Fiber, meanwhile, finally unveiled its $70 per month 1 Gbps service in Kansas City last July. Sixty percent of the qualified population in Kansas City is interested in taking the service despite its being available in only one city,says a new survey from Ideas & Solutions!

Not to be outdone by the telcos, Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) announced it will offer its own Ethernet-based FTTH service in select areas this year.

However, other analysts are a bit more skeptical about the FTTH opportunity. Ovum, for one, notes AT&T's (NYSE: T) Fiber to the Node (FTTN) U-verse effort, which is preparing to deliver speeds of between 45 to 100 Mbps, and says this represents the near-term broadband subscriber speed reality.

Although AT&T put its U-verse expansion on hold in 2011, its $14 billion Project VIP project includes $6 billion to pass an additional 33 million locations with the service.

Ovum said service providers are facing two challenges in rolling out FTTH: sluggish demand and getting a sizeable return on investment.

"Customer demand for 50-100Mbps speed tiers has lagged worldwide, especially at a premium price, and instances of FTTH payback are hard to come by," Ovum said in an iTWire article. "In light of U-verse's growing revenue impact, network synergy savings, and DSL technology advancements such as vectoring, AT&T's less-ambitious but incremental FTTN/DSL approach to network upgrades seems reasonable and pragmatic."

For more:
- see the release
- iTWire has this article

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Google's Schmidt: Kansas City is just one stop on FTTH journey

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