Saturday, September 10, 2016

Are FTTH Take Rates Really 50%?

According to the Fiber to the Home Council, half of homes passed by fiber actually buy service  services now are purchased by about half of U.S. homes able to buy the services.

That seems too high, and is almost certainly a statistical artifact caused by a Verizon sale of assets that subtracted millions of copper-served homes from the actual “homes passed” base.

Verizon supplies most FTTH connections in the United States, so any big change at Verizon will affect the whole market (AT&T’s FTTH passings are growing, and other ISPs operate, but Verizon is the dominant provider of fiber-to-home connections.

In the first quarter of 2016, Verizon FiOS Internet access connections reached 7.1 million accounts, on a base of about 15 million homes. So adoption of FiOS Internet services could be as high as 47 percent.

It all depends on how many homes passed Verizon has. Prior to asset sales to Frontier Communications, there were 19.8 million homes passed by FiOS networks, so take rates for customers able to buy it were once about 36 percent.

Then Verizon sold 4.8 million lines (and more homes passed than that) to Frontier Communications. After the asset sales, Verizon now passes about 15 million homes.

In other words, because Verizon sold assets that mostly did not have FTTH activated, the denominator was reduced more than the numerator when calculating fiber adoption. But nothing really changed in terms of Verizon adoption rates or availability.

It is correct to say that Verizon FTTH take rates (Internet and video) are about 50 percent, where the services are available for purchase.

Still, it has to be noted that other competitors will find it hard to match those levels of adoption. Verizon FiOS has been marketed the longest in the U.S. market, and generally has faced access competition primarily from cable operators. If Verizon gets 47 percent adoption, then cable could potentially get 53 percent.

We will see what happens as competition grows, especially as Comcast activates gigabit capabilities that operate faster than FiOS. Eventually, we also should see additional fixed wireless and mobile competition, plus potential independent ISP market entry in a few instances.

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