To counter cable's threat, a trio of incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) has announced plans to extend their optical networks all the way to customer premises using fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technologies. They are not alone in their fiber initiatives, however, and were even slow out of the gate. Nearly 70 FTTH deployments have been announced in North America by entities ranging from rural municipal governments to independent local telephone companies, and even real estate development firms. Still, the potential scale of the ILEC business gives FTTH equipment manufacturers the most hope for broader industry development.
But with prices reaching $1,364 per household in urban areas and $2,705 per household in rural domains, and a total US price tag of more than $233 billion, fiber networks will not come cheap. Even with scale-related equipment cost reductions, the length of time required to recover per-subscriber investments will be measured in years. Fiber networks could, however, prove telecom's only long-term option to neutralize cable