A new study released by the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) determined a family of four will require symmetrical broadband speeds of at least 2 Gbps by 2030 in order to adequately meet their needs.
Research commissioned by FBA and conducted by RVA LLC Market Research and Consulting found a four-person household today needs a connection offering download speeds of 131 Mbps and upload speeds of 73 Mbps. By the start of the next decade, this is projected to rise to 2.14 Gbps for the downlink and 2.04 Gbps for the uplink.
FBA noted data from Ookla showed average fixed broadband download speeds have increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27% over the past five years to reach 179 Mbps by January 2021, with uplink speeds rising at a 28% CAGR to 65 Mbps. If growth continues at this rate, FBA said average download speeds will reach 1.5 Gbps and uplink speeds 599 Mbps by 2030 – well short of the forecast need.
The group pointed out the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) current broadband benchmark of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up does not reflect today's needs, and noted many rural areas are failing to meet even this standard. But Michael Render, president at RVA LLC, stated with populations shifting to more rural areas "rural citizens now need and demand the highest quality broadband available."
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the association’s focus, the report concluded fiber is the best option for deploying future-proof networks, highlighting the ability to increase bandwidth as needed on fiber and lower operational costs compared to other technologies. A previous report released by FBA in June 2020 concluded fiber can save operators $54 per year per home passed in opex costs compared to HFC and $91 per home per year compared to DSL.
Deborah Kish, FBA’s VP of research and marketing, said in a statement that “as the federal government makes plans to spend billions of dollars towards America’s digital infrastructure, deploying fiber proves to be the soundest and cost-effective investment.”
FBA president Gary Bolton recently told Fierce one of the group’s priorities for 2021 is trying to educate Congress and federal regulators about the benefits of fiber as the government dishes out funding for broadband initiatives.
The group has notably been a vocal critic of satellite broadband technology, and more specifically SpaceX’s Starlink. In December 2020, Starlink won $885.5 million from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase 1 reverse auction to serve some 640,000 locations with broadband. However, FBA and fellow industry group NCTA – The Rural Broadband Association have argued Starlink’s network will rapidly become congested based on forecast demand and face a capacity shortfall by 2028.