The following was published in FierceTelecom on September 16, 2019
by Mike Robuck
The Fiber Broadband Association released a study that said all-fiber deployments were on pace to hit about 50% of U.S. households by 2025.
Furthermore, the study, which was done with consulting firm Cartesian, found that 90% of the U.S. households could have all-fiber networks by 2029 by increasing current spending by approximately $70 billion. Passing 80% of U.S. households with fiber would require additional spending of $50 billion.
The Fiber Broadband Association said the goal of 90% all-fiber deployments could be reached via “innovative deployment models,” government efforts to lower access to essential infrastructure and, most importantly, additional government support.
According to the Fiber Broadband Association’s press release, 24% of rural Americans lack access to broadband speeds of 25 Mbps, but less than 2% of urban Americans lack the same broadband access.
“Building all-fiber networks throughout America is not a pipe dream,” said Fiber Broadband Association President and CEO Lisa R. Youngers, in a statement. “We have long known that having access to all-fiber networks is far superior than other technologies in driving economic growth, social interaction, and political engagement. Now we know that deploying all-fiber networks to most parts of the country within the next decade is feasible. If we want to close the digital divide, it is essential that we make all-fiber networks a reality for all of America’s communities.”
While deploying fiber to rural areas would close the digital divide, it would come at a cost that most rural communities can’t afford. Whether the U.S. government is willing to get behind all-fiber deployments remains to be seen.
The Federal Communications Commission has been chipping away at the economic challenge of providing broadband to unserved and underserved rural areas. Last Thursday, the FCC authorized more than $112.2 million over the course of the next decade to expand broadband to about 48,000 unserved rural homes and businesses. The grants will go to 16 projects across nine states.
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