U.S. Business Fiber Reaches 1.3M Buildings in 2021

Over 24.7 percent of commercial buildings have on-net fiber connectivity to network services.

  • Vertical Systems Group


BOSTON, MA– More than 1.3 million or 24.7 percent of the 5+ million commercial buildings in the U.S. are lit with optical fiber, according to latest ENS @Fiber Plus research from Vertical Systems Group. Fiber lit buildings are strategic assets that enable competitive advantages such as more profitable delivery of business network services, particularly for applications requiring gigabit speed connectivity.

“Business fiber installations rebounded during 2021 as the U.S. began to recover from the effects of the pandemic,” said Rosemary Cochran, principal of Vertical Systems Group. “New fiber investments are being driven by multiple factors, including advancements in fiber optic technology, federal regulatory initiatives, and expanded federal funding for fiber infrastructure. Additionally, the fiber deployments supporting 5G and edge compute services are enabling build-outs for nearby unlit commercial sites."

The research firm’s analysis looks across five building sizes and shows disparity. In the Fiber 20+ segment, which includes buildings with twenty or more employees, has a 2021 fiber availability rate of 74.5 percent. In comparison, the rate is 16.3 percent for the Fiber <20 segment, which covers buildings with fewer than twenty employees. In 2021, the Fiber <20 segment added the most new fiber-lit buildings.  A Fiber <20 opportunity is monetizing the millions of buildings in this segment without fiber access.

However, network diversity remains limited. Nearly three-quarters of all U.S. fiber-lit commercial buildings are served by a single fiber provider. 

For this analysis, a fiber-lit building is defined to include multi-tenant and company-owned commercial sites plus data centers that have on-net optical fiber connectivity to a network provider’s infrastructure and active service termination equipment onsite. Excluded from this analysis are standalone cell towers, small cells not located in fiber-lit buildings, near-net buildings, buildings classified as coiled at curb or coiled in building, HFC-connected buildings, carrier central offices, residential buildings, and private or dark fiber installations. 




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