Rural Fiber Deployment, Higher Speed Broadband on the Rise

  • The Rural Broadband Association
ARLINGTON, VA — The nation's small, independent telecommunications providers continue to make significant progress in providing high-speed broadband to rural Americans with advancements being made in fiber deployment and speed offerings, according to a new survey by NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, the association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America.

The "NTCA 2014 Broadband/Internet Availability Survey Report" found that 45 percent of survey respondents currently deploying fiber serve at least 50 percent of their customers using fiber to the home (FTTH), up from 41 percent in 2013. Eighty-five percent of survey respondents indicated they had a long-term fiber deployment strategy and 74 percent of those respondents plan to offer fiber to the node to more than 75 percent of their customers by year-end 2017, while 67 percent plan to offer fiber to the home to at least 50 percent of their customers over the same time frame. An additional 25 percent have already completed fiber deployments to all customers.

Telcoms Responding to Customer Demand for Speed
Additionally, survey respondents are making higher-speed broadband service available to customers who want it. Eighty-three percent of respondents' customers can receive broadband service of 10 Mbps or greater, up from 66 percent just a year ago. While take rates traditionally lag behind availability, the majority of respondents' customers subscribe to service of 3 Mbps or faster. Thirty-four percent of survey respondents' customers taking broadband subscribe to service greater than 10 Mbps downstream. The next most popular speed tiers are 6.0 Mbps to 10.0 Mbps (9.5 percent), and 3.0 Mbps to 4.0 Mbps (8.9 percent).

"NTCA member companies are proven broadband solutions providers for the communities where they live and work and these survey results demonstrate that once again as they continue to take steps to deploy fiber further out into their networks," said NTCA Economist Rick Schadelbauer, the report's author. "They do this in spite of the often significant challenges they face in order to better serve their customers."

Twenty percent of NTCA members participated in the online survey in the winter of 2014. The survey comprised general questions about the respondents' current operations, competition, marketing efforts, and current and planned fiber deployment. Additional questions addressed the Internet backbone, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) and video offerings.


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