Hundreds of small independent telcos, broadband service providers, municipalities and cable TV operators have brought gigabit-enabled, all-fiber service to a total of more than 1.4 million North American homes – about a quarter of all fiber to the home connections on the continent – according to a report released today by the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council.

The study, conducted by RVA Market Research, found that all-fiber networks are now available to 16 percent of homes in North America, with 5.8 million homes now receiving TV, high-speed Internet and/or phone service over these networks.

While a large portion of the FTTH deployment thus far has been due to Verizon’s $23 billion dollar investment in overbuilding its wireline service in many areas, the report noted that fiber to the home is now being deployed by more than 750 service providers across North America, with most of those being small, independent telephone companies that are replacing their copper lines with end-to-end fiber in order to ensure their future competitiveness as broadband providers.

Further, the study found that more than 65 percent of small independent telephone companies that have not upgraded to FTTH said they would very likely do so in the future, with another 11 percent saying they were somewhat likely. More than 85 percent of those that have already deployed FTTH said they would be adding more direct fiber connections going forward.

"With Verizon approaching the end of its initial FiOS expansion, we are seeing a lot of small local exchange carriers in the United States who are ready to pick up the slack, along with some cable TV companies deploying RFoG and some larger Canadian companies going FTTH," said Joe Savage, president of the FTTH Council, in a statement.

Savage said he is delighted that Google’s plan to build gigabit FTTH networks in several cities has raised awareness of how many communities want superfast connections.

Mike Render, president of RVA LLC and the author of the study, said there are a number of reasons independent telecoms are flocking to FTTH, including the need to replace aging copper lines, the opportunity to include video in their service offerings, and in some cases the availability of rural broadband loan programs and stimulus funds.

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