Archive for September, 2008

FTTP take rates pass 30%

Average take rates for fiber-to-the-premises services in North America have surpassed 30% for the first time in roughly three and a half years, according to new data released this week by RVA Market Research. Take rates took a dive in early 2005 as Verizon Communications began deploying fiber faster than it could turn up customers. The industry’s overall numbers bottomed at 18% that year but have been climbing steadily since. In competitive areas, Bell companies are seeing 35% take rates, RVA said. CLECs are averaging 29% (after a few years) — 55% in underserved areas (and in some small towns reaches as high as 85%); municipalities are averaging 54%, rural incumbents are averaging 58%, and real estate developers are averaging 80%, RVA said. “Take rates have been exceeding expectations in many cases,” said Michael Render, RVA’s founder. According to his latest numbers, 58% of FTTP users subscribe to video over the pipe.

How to upsell broadband speeds

A Calix executive here at the Fiber-to-the-Home conference relayed the story of a broadband provider in North Dakota that every December gives its customers a free bandwidth boost, to 5 Mb/s or so. Along with it, the company promotes photo-sharing and video applications meant to take advantage of the extra speed, tied to the holidays. Then in January, the company sends out emails saying, “We hope you enjoyed the free bandwidth. Your speed will now return to its normal levels.” And every January, there are some who got hooked on the speed at which those photo and video apps ran and opt to pay for a higher speed service rather than return to what they had in November. This marketing technique was first perfected by crack dealers, of course. But apparently it can work for broadband, too. Has anyone else done this? And does anyone know the identity of the North Dakota provider in question?

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FTTP users frown on VoIP?

Here at the Fiber-to-the-Home conference, I heard one FTTH provider mention that his users have complained broadly about voice-over-IP. In fact, a real estate developer that has contracted with the provider to deploy FTTH to its properties has revised those contracts to exclude VoIP going forward. It may be because FTTP generally serves an affluent clientele who have high expectations for call quality. It may be because people generally expect high quality out of FTTP services as opposed to copper. In any case, how widespread is this phenomenon? In the comments section below, can any readers relate their own experiences about FTTP users’ attitude toward VoIP?

A little personal irony

Only days after casually tossing off an editor’s letter in which I noted that consumers had moved on from expecting their landline telephone service to also be a lifeline, I discovered this wasn’t entirely true.

For my sister and her family, living in Houston, a working home phone has been a lifeline. It has enabled them to contact family members and assure them that all was well. The phone line let my sister contact me and through me, access her email to notify work colleagues around the country that she wouldn’t be available for a while. 

And when the days stretched on with no sign of commercial power coming back, the phone line was my sister’s way of reaching out for help. How else would I have known that mail service in Houston was working even when the power wasn’t? The 12-pack of “D” batteries I sent via overnight mail comes in handy when the power’s still off and the stores aren’t restocked yet.

Of course, not everyone in Houston has working phones, despite AT&T’s efforts to get generators and fresh batteries out to their remote terminals and other sites, but for those that did, the landline phone was a lifeline.

Is it reason enough to keep a home phone, and not rely simply on a wireless service? Probably not for everyone. Power outages that last for days or weeks are still pretty rare.

But the Houston experience shows that we can’t be too casual in cutting the lifeline that landline phones do often provide, at least not until there’s something to replace it, like small, inexpensive generators for recharging cellphones.

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