Posted by: Ann Treacy | March 9, 2013

FTTH growing but still rare in Minnesota

Broadband Communities magazine reports good news for the fiber industry…

North American fiber-to-the-home deployers forged ahead in 2012, passing 2.7 million homes with fiber between September 2011 and September 2012, marketing fiber services to 3 million more homes and connecting 1.5 million new FTTH customers.

This growth – the industry’s best showing since 2008 – occurred as stimulus projects advanced in the United States and as the leading Canadian telcos ramped up their FTTH construction.

Revenue kept pace as well, with FTTH customers paying, on average, more than $57 a month for data – by far the most profitable offering a network provider can sell. Customer satisfaction soared, and average take rates continued an unbroken, decade-long rise.

It’s good news for the industry – and it’s good news for consumers who want fiber . I was surprised to see how FTTH is doing in Minnesota – as the map below indicates, we’re at about 2-3 percent fiber. For comparison – it looks like South Dakota is about 10 percent, North Dakota is better than 22 percent and the US average is 8 percent.

ftth map 2013


  1. It is no surprise with the number of small telcos that have sold out in Minnesota. It is the small telcos, cooperatives, and municipalities that are the main drivers of innovation towards this technology in the rural areas.

    I will give for example something I personally witnessed. When a large telcom bought out a small telco I had worked for, the management from this large telco came in and specifically said that residential customers made them no money, they were focused on selling to business customers as their main focus for profit. Their main loyalty was to the shareholders and profitability. They did like having rural residential customers but only for the fact that they had no choice in their provider and could not go elsewhere for service. This meant this company could forgo upgrading the equipment used for residential DSL service, keep prices elevated compared to the metropolitan area, and basically milk the facility for all it was worth without investing a single dime in it. To this day they are running on DSLAMs and equipment I helped install in this company over 12 years ago.

    If rural Minnesota wants FTTH I think it will be through the efforts of small telcos, electric cooperatives, local government, and grass roots involvement of the residents themselves that will provide the solution for bringing FTTH to rural Minnesota.

    The current broadband situation is very similar to rural electrification in the thirties. Big electric companies only wanted to focus on providing service to the larger towns and cities with the mindset that it was not cost effective to bring electric service to smaller rural communities and farms. We are again at this crossroads and I feel if we as a people in rural Minnesota want decent broadband service we will have to look again at forming cooperatives to provide this service.

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