'Optical Fiber Communities' on the rise

July 1, 2004
The number of "Optical Fiber Communities" is on the rise, but it's not growing as fast as members of the Fiber-To-The-Home Council (Charlotte, NC; www.ftthcouncil.org) would like.

The number of "Optical Fiber Communities" is on the rise, but it's not growing as fast as members of the Fiber-To-The-Home Council (Charlotte, NC; www.ftthcouncil.org) would like. "The bottom line is we are behind the rest of the world," says Council president Michael DiMauro.

The Council and the Telecommunications Industry Association (Arlington, VA; www.tiaonline.org) have announced an updated list of "Optical Fiber Communities," with the total rising to 128 communities in 32 states. The list was prepared by Render, Vanderslice & Associates (Tulsa, OK; www.opinionsnow.com), and TeleChoice.

An "Optical Fiber Community" is defined as one that delivers broadband services to customers through FTTH solutions. These communities provide all of the existing and possibly future content providers with optical fiber. In turn, residents get direct access to high-speed data or interactive video, for example.

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Thirty-six communities representing a cross-section of America have been added to the list, including: Indian Head, PA; Jackson, TN; St. Marys, OH; Joshua, TX; Holiway, MN; Clovis, NM; Jamestown, ND; Gypsum, CO; Scio, OR; and Phoenix, AZ. The list shows that FTTH deployments continue to be driven by municipalities, competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) and new residential developments.

The new analysis shows average subscriber take rates exceeding 40% overall and more than 75% in some communities. For the council, the trends represent a step in the right direction. "It is significant for here, if we compare it to what had previously been in the U.S.," says DiMauro.

Growth can be attributed to several factors, he says, including the fact that people are at last starting to become familiar with FTTH's benefits. "We are providing 23rd century abilities to individual homes," says DiMauro.

DiMauro also notes that the most significant increase took place in a recent nine-month period. And as more communities find the incentive for optical fiber, he says, CLECS are ready and waiting to jump on the bandwagon to provide deployment.

DiMauro says Council members are promoting FTTH awareness through white papers and speaking engagements. The Council reports it is seeing increased traffic on its Web site, and healthy attendance at its annual conference. The next conference will be Oct. 4-6 in Orlando, and DiMauro says early registration has already tripled what it was at this point for the previous FTTH conference.

While DiMauro notes that President Bush has acknowledged the importance of FTTH, North America deployment remains far behind the rest of the world. P ublic utilities need access to communities, he says, and content providers need to provide for them.

"We've reached the point where people are aware, but we have to increase that awareness," says DiMauro. "We need to increase the number of municipalities, and get them to take the bull by the horns and do the job themselves."

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