Recently, I had the opportunity to address attendees of the Broadband Communities Summit in Dallas. As a member of a panel addressing the subject of Broadband Competitiveness, I was able to share some data associated with a study we had recently completed. I had asked a sampling of our customers who had received funding as part of the American Recovering and Reinvestment Act (the Stimulus Bill), how they would rate the value of their Fiber to the Home builds. Participants in the study ranged from new start-ups setting up a CLEC alternative, to a pure ILEC updating their cable plant (and, of course, a broad mixture in-between). Participants received anywhere from $10 to $125 million in funding.

As part of my study, participants were asked three questions — rating on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the best).

Question One: “How would you rate the effectiveness of the program in improving the economics of your business?

Scores ranged from 7 to 10, with 8.3 being the average. The take rates (the number of homes connected to a fiber line that passed the home) ranged from 16% to 100%. Throwing out the anomalies, the average was 71.5%. These take rates are consistent with other industry studies for the independent telephone industry, but it should be noted that participants in my study also included municipalities as well as university environments.

When asked to qualify their rating regarding effectiveness, one general manager offered that, while some customers had “cut the cord” prior to their FTTP builds because of the perceived higher value of fiber, many were now reconnecting to a wireline network.

Question Two: “How you would rate the program in improving the competitiveness of your community?”

Scores were high with all parties as they ranked their FTTH builds either 9 or 10. One participant commented, “We have recently entered into an exclusive marketing agreement with a new apartment complex that is under construction. They felt fiber enhanced their marketing ability relative to the other apartment complexes in the community.”

Question Three: “How would you rank how the FTTH build enhanced the satisfaction of their customer base?”

High scores of 9 and 10 were once again the norm. One provider commented that seniors were being connected to the internet at rates far higher than ever before. “We’ve seen many of our seniors at our tech store purchasing iPads and other devices,” he said. However, he cautioned to be ready to offer entry-level training support to reduce initial fears and learning curves.

While not statistically relevant, my study confirms what we have built Clearfield upon — the insatiable appetite for bandwidth. While difficult to quantify (as well as qualify), my survey scratches the surface on the positive outcome of a FTTH build. Perhaps one general manager said it best when he said, “FTTH is like taking your daily vitamin. You believe it’s working, and have the scientific data to prove it in the theoretical. It just may be too early to prove it.”