By Cablefax Staff

By Gary Bolton

President & CEO, Fiber Broadband Association

Over the past few years, nothing has disrupted the broadband market quite like fiber optic technology.

In 2022 alone, fiber lines passed an additional 7.9 million homes in the United States, setting a new annual record for deployments, according to the latest survey conducted by the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA). As a result, from coast to coast, fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks now pass a total of more than 63 million “unique” households, including some 48% of the nation’s primary residences and 12% of its secondary homes.

Moreover, the year-end FBA survey revealed that 28.3 million American households are now connected to fiber lines. That figure is up from 25.1 million homes at the end of 2021 and translates to more than a 40% penetration rate.

Notably, cable operators are increasingly ramping up their FTTP deployments. Indeed, large and midsized North American cablecos installed more than 35,000 remote optical line terminals (R-OLTs) for Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) last year, according to the latest figures compiled by the Dell’Oro Group. That’s up exponentially from well under 10,000 R-OLT ports deployed in 2021.

“Cable operators are not sitting idly be,” said Jeff Heynen, VP of Broadband Access and Home Networking at Dell’Oro. Speaking on one of our recent Fiber for Breakfast webinars, Heynen noted that operators are responding to heightened competition from fiber providers by “making investments in their own fiber infrastructure.”

Given this stunning broadband market growth, what markets will fiber disrupt next? We’ll try to answer this important question at our upcoming annual conference, Fiber Connect 2023.

Slated to take place at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando from Sunday, Aug. 20 through Wednesday, Aug. 23, Fiber Connect will explore how fiber broadband acts as the enabling technology platform to disrupt numerous markets, including electronic gaming, video streaming, the Internet of Things, precision agriculture, health care, machine learning, augmented/virtual reality, and more.

This summer’s conference will feature 55 educational sessions spread across seven breakout tracks. Topics will range from fiber deployment challenges and opportunities to the economics of fiber broadband and from the in-home fiber broadband experience to the ecology of fiber broadband, with a particular emphasis on efforts to bridge the digital divide.

“This is certainly the time when all eyes are on the effort to close the digital divide,” said Joseph Jones, president of OnTrac, FBA chairman and chairman for the conference. Indeed, the conference will take place as federal, state, and local officials are gearing up to spend tens of billions of dollars in public funds to subsidize new broadband network builds throughout the country.

Cablefax and ACA Connects will join the conversation again at Fiber Connect 2023 to discuss trends in fiber upgrades and expansions to help explain why cable operators are turning to fiber. Leaders from the two organizations will also examine the federal government’s massive Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program and the challenges ahead for MSOs, as well as lead a panel conversation with operators about best practices for public-private-partnerships.

More than 200 other experts from across the industry will lead conversations during the four-day-long Fiber Connect 2023. The speaking roster includes key elected and regulatory officials, and executives from industry groups such as Broadband Forum.

Up to 4,000 people are expected to attend, a testament to the ongoing expansion of the fiber broadband industry. The guest list includes broadband providers, other network operators, network integrators, utility executives, local government officials, digital infrastructure investors, infrastructure providers, tech suppliers and more.

This year’s conference will also feature some new elements, such as Operator Lights, a series of 18-minute presentations modelled after the renowned TED Talks. Top tech executives from such leading service providers as AT&T, Google Fiber, Frontier, Lumos Fiber, EPB, and Ting Internet will speak at those sessions.

In another fresh addition to the conference lineup, Fiber Connect 2023 will ratchet up the networking opportunities with Fiber Meetups. Attendees will be able to mix and swap stories with colleagues from other companies and parts of the country.

“We have a lot of great new content this year,” Jones noted. “We’re really trying to create something for everyone.”

Other networking opportunities will abound in Orlando. Those opportunities include the C-Suite Forum on Monday, Aug. 21, when senior executives can engage with federal, state, and regulatory officials, as well as the Women in Fiber Luncheon and the Elected Officials Luncheon.

Yet another standout element of the conference will be the State Broadband Summit. Scheduled for Aug. 23, the summit will bring together state broadband officers from across the nation to discuss their five-year plans for closing the digital divide with the aid of all the various federal and state government subsidies. Finally, there will be a series of pre-conference workshops on Sunday, Aug. 20, where we will cover such topics as community broadband, the middle mile, and network sustainability.

All in all, Fiber Connect 2023 promises to offer all participants the best possible kind of disruption under the Florida sun.

– Gary Bolton leads the Fiber Broadband Association, whose mission is to accelerate deployment of all-fiber access networks.

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