Comcast’s 3 Gbps home broadband service highlights fiber’s growing importance; US fiber lines will grow at 10.8% CAGR through 2026, says GlobalData

  • GlobalData expects the number of US fiber lines will grow at a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.8% and reach 28.2 million lines by year-end 2026
  • Cable’s share of total US fixed-broadband subscriptions will decline to 67.1% by year-end 2026
  • US fixed-broadband lines will increase from 103.1 million in 2021 to 112.3 million by year-end 2026

The upgrade of US broadband provider Comcast’s fiber-based Xfinity Gigabit Pro service reflects the growing importance of fiber lines as customers increasingly desire multi-gig broadband data speeds. Leading data and analytics company GlobalData predicts the number of US fiber lines will grow at a robust CAGR of 10.8% to reach 28.2 million lines by the end of 2026. This growth will be due to rising demand for high-speed internet services in the nation, and efforts by the government and operators to expand FTTx** networks.

Tammy Parker, Principal Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Very few households require multigigabit broadband service, even if they engage in simultaneous internet access for remote working or schooling, video conferencing, and entertainment. Additionally, residential multigigabit services tend to have limited availability, installation wait lists and quite a few caveats – such as high monthly charges (Gigabit Pro’s monthly subscription price is $299.95), high installation and activation fees, as well as requirements for end users to have routers and computers that are compatible with super high-speed residential broadband service. Nonetheless, service providers are wise to prepare for a multigigabit future, as households continue to increase their broadband data consumption.

“Fiber-based symmetrical service is generally considered superior to asymmetric DOCSIS-based infrastructure used by Comcast and other US cable operators. However, the cable industry is developing technology to support its 10G vision, an initiative that would see the cable access network deliver 10G per user. Comcast itself is working on the Full Duplex (FDX) version of DOCSIS 4.0, a cable spec supporting symmetrical streaming with 10 Gbps downstream speeds.”

Despite these efforts by the cable industry, GlobalData expects cable’s share of total US fixed broadband subscriptions to decline to 67.1% by the end of 2026, from 68% in 2021, as other technologies such as fiber and fixed wireless expand their presence. Total US fixed-broadband lines, including fiber, fixed wireless and cable, will increase from 103.1 million in 2021 to 112.3 million by 2026.

Parker adds: “Numerous US broadband service providers are charting paths to offer multigigabit services in the coming years. Providers whose service maxes out at 1 Gbps, and even Google Fiber with its existing 2 Gbps service, have been put on notice that they will need to amp up their speed game.”

* Data taken from GlobalData’s September 2021 United States Telecom Operators Country Intelligence Report

** Fiber to the premises, which includes fiber to the home and fiber to the business

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