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Fighting For Fiber: How the Fiber Broadband Assosciation is Bringing High Speed Connectivity to the Americas


It’s an exciting time to work in telecommunications and technology. We’ve never been more connected, our networks have never been more important, and the promise of 5G brings renewed enthusiasm to the industry.

As President and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA), I spend every day talking to the folks doing this work and I’m continually impressed by the innovation taking place. At FBA, we are the key advocate and educator for the fiber industry, which forms the foundation of modern telecommunications and the key infrastructure to the next-gen technologies we are all talking about. We represent all of North America and our LATAM Chapter advocates for fiber broadband in Latin America. Together, we work to bring high-speed fiber broadband networks to connect the unconnected.


At FBA, we provide the industry with reliable, actionable information, producing first-of-its-kind research, white papers, webinars, trainings, and certifications to help our members improve their own value, enhance their skills, and find new opportunities. We educate communities, consumers, and policymakers about all-fiber broadband.

FBA is the place to go for companies, organizations, policymakers, and communities that want to learn how to build better fiber networks. We are the voice for ultra high-speed wireline broadband deployment throughout the Americas and we do this through our advocacy work and our research. Today, our 250+ members include a range of broadband providers from big and small service providers to municipalities and power companies who are on the leading edge of bringing fiber broadband further into communities.


At FBA, we push to remove barriers to deployment and support pro-fiber policies in all forums on the federal, state, and local levels. We encourage forward-leaning rights of way, pole attachment, battery back-up policies, and more to help build fiber networks faster. To that end, we also support state legislative changes to allow electric co-op and municipal network deployments. Local operators often know their customers best, so we advocate for their ability to deploy high-speed broadband in their local communities.

We do the work to push the government to bridge the digital divide. This means advocating for funding for rural communities at the FCC through programs like the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, the Connect America Fund, and others, while also pushing Congress to move forward on a comprehensive infrastructure bill that includes broadband funding. At FBA, we are proud to support our members in pushing for common-sense policies to connect more Americans to future-proof fiber broadband networks.


We also conduct broadband research that helps push our industry forward, making the economic case for investment in the next generation of networks. This year, we’ve conducted two major studies that have done just that.

The first study, conducted by researchers from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Oklahoma State University, focused on the impact of broadband on unemployment and economic development. In studying broadband deployment in the state of Tennessee, researchers found that access to highspeed broadband can significantly reduce unemployment rates, particularly in rural communities. Counties without high-speed broadband have smaller populations and lower population density, lower average household income, and a smaller proportion of people with at least a high school diploma. High-speed connectivity improves quality of life in rural communities and I believe it is our duty to bring it to more Americans.

A second study focused on the costs associated with deploying all-fiber networks to all homes across the United States. In the next decade, if current deployment rates hold, researchers predict that we can potentially increase the number of American homes passed by fiber broadband networks from 40% to 90%. In essence, this research shows that with the right funding and the right incentives, we can bridge the digital divide in this country. It is an exciting conclusion and we are thrilled to share it with the industry.


A broader range of entities are increasingly interested in investing in and training people to build out fiber broadband networks. I invite you to join FBA to explore some of these opportunities, especially Fiber Connect.

This annual conference and expo is the largest all-fiber event in the US, featuring top industry expert speakers, inspiring keynotes, in-depth training sessions, and peer networking. This year, our meeting will take place in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Resort on June 1-3, 2020. On May 31, 2020, a pre-conference workshop will focus on how to build fiber networks. Fiber Connect will present a comprehensive lineup of education led by the industry’s best, be it to build your customer base, find tools to make deployment more affordable, or to learn from industry leaders.


FBA also has a LATAM Chapter — formerly the Fiber to the Home Council Americas LATAM Chapter — which is committed to promoting and accelerating the deployment of fiber optic networks in Latin America. The LATAM Chapter seeks to promote the adoption of high-quality fiber optic access networks, to promote economic development and to improve the quality of life resulting from such adoption in the fields of education, health, defense and security.

In studying broadband deployment in the state of Tennessee, researchers found that access to high-speed broadband can significantly reduce unemployment rates, particularly in rural communities.

The Latin America region is one of the most emerging markets in fiber optic penetration and the FBA LATAM Chapter is committed to working to maintain the high-deployment movement in the coming years. The organization recognizes that for this process to have continuity and solidified development, a joint effort of all those involved in the market is necessary. Regulations must be implemented, the technology has to keep advancing and the facilities and services maximized. The LATAM Chapter has worked hard to raise awareness among industry and governments about the importance of fiber optics, its benefits and impacts on the future of the Latin American market.

The rise of ultrabroadband requirements in either the wireless or wired environment, will drive massive deployments of fiber infrastructure by operators all over the region, allowing them to be competitive in the current and future connectivity market. We saw significant year-over-year growth in 2018, with homes connected to fiber up 60% to 12.5 million and homes passed up 36% to 40 million.


Our LATAM Chapter also has an annual conference — Fiber Connect LATAM. This 11th annual event will take place August 24-26, 2020 in Lima, Peru at the Westin Lima Hotel & Convention Center. We chose Lima for this year’s meeting because our latest FTTH/B deployment study showed significant growth in the Peruvian market — an astounding 513% from 2017 to 2018. At this meeting we will explore this dynamic growth, unveil our latest research and continue to share best practices for fiber architecture for the region.


It is important to remember the reason that we do this work. Today, close to 20 million Americans in rural areas lack broadband access, cutting them off from many educational and professional opportunities — and even more people in Latin America remain unconnected. This is a huge problem, but also a huge opportunity.

I am eager to continue advocating for the deployment of fiber broadband networks and to partner with others so that all people can benefit from access to high-speed connectivity. I invite you to join me.

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