According to a study by Vertical Systems Group, 19.1% of commercial buildings in the USA with 20 or more employees now have fiber. That is up from just 10.9% just four years ago. That’s real progress of course, but the percentage is still small and it is just changing too slowly. Looking at it from the other side, 80.9% of such buildings are served primarily by copper, down from 89.1% four years ago. Comparing that with consumer wireline losses at AT&T (NYSE:T, news, filings), Verizon (NYSE:VZ, news, filings) and others which are more on the order of 10% in the last year alone, one can see that commercial buildings are still getting the very short end of the stick.
Making things even more galling, the study from VSG suggests that it is the consumer fiber roll-outs by the ILECs themselves that are driving much of the acceleration of fiber to the enterprise. One would think that the bigger buildings would be no-brainers compared to consumer lines, but apparently it is the other way around. The real reason, of course, that consumers are getting more fiber than the enterprise is that the consumer business has competition from the cable MSOs. As a group the cables have not really cracked the enterprise telecom market and thus any threat to those ILEC revenues is unfocused and therefore ignorable.
What this remains of course is an opportunity. The big guys are largely ignoring the enterprise access market, letting their private garden grow untended. The CLEC threat via UNE-P and other means has largely abated, but others have finally figured out how to make a business out of fiber to such locations. Once the fiber is in place, the RBOCs may find the customers are more permanently gone than they realize.
But seriously guys, 19.1% is pathetic – let’s get a move on!
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