Impressive LTE deployments masking fixed-line broadband crisis in USA

Mobile market overview

Despite the growth in data use, Americans still pay almost twice as much for mobile services than do customers in Europe and the Asia Pacific region. High cost is partly due to the lack of effective competition in many areas, with dominant players increasing charges regardless of the falling cost of delivering data. Sector revenue is continuing to migrate to data rather than voice, a trend which will escalate further in 2013 following the introduction of VoLTE services. Over the next five years data volume is expected to grow tenfold, particularly through customer use of rich media, video teleconferencing, mobile video, mobile computing, mobile business solutions and remote health monitoring. Given the paucity of spectrum available, operators will need to develop new business models on network architecture, including upgrades to fiber backhaul and an escalation in the number of microcells.

Broadband market overview

Following the success of Google’s FttH offering in Kansas City, the FCC has called for all 50 states to build at least one community offering a 1Gb/s service by 2015. The ‘Gigabit City Challenge’ is aimed at encouraging providers, state and municipal officials to collaborate in developing faster networks serving as hubs for innovation and economic growth. Thus far there are more than 40 gigabit communities in 14 states. The fast-growing FttH sector is still driven by a growing number of municipal and regional enterprises while the two dominant telcos, having adopted a hybrid fiber/copper network, have all but completed their network upgrades. This has left million of Americans with little prospect of benefitting from FttH, while in many areas broadband will only be available via expensive LTE alternatives.

Key telecom parameters – 2010; 2013

Sector

2010

2013

Subscribers by sector (million):
Fixed broadband subscribers 85.7 95.5
Mobile phone 302 327
Penetration by sector:
Fixed broadband 27% 32%
Mobile 97% 110%

(Source: BuddeComm)

Market Highlights

  • Google’s deployment of 1Gb/s broadband services in Kansas City has spurred regional investments elsewhere, often concentrated in university campuses of municipalities such as Seattle.
  • The FCC has called for all 50 states to build at least one community offering a 1Gb/s service by 2015. The ‘Gigabit City Challenge’ is aimed at promoting business and innovation.
  • The number of cable broadband subscribers in stable though cord cutting is notable as customers ditch cable TV for OTT alternatives.
  • Access to spectrum remains the key to LTE deployment. While mobile data traffic is expected to increase 10-fold by 2016, the FCC has also projected a 275MHz shortfall in required spectrum by 2014 if no further spectrum allocations are made. Operators have endeavoured to secure available spectrum and rationalise their regional holdings through swaps and purchases.

BuddeComm’s annual publication, USA – Telecoms, IP Networks, Digital Media and Forecasts, provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in one of the world’s largest markets. The report includes the regulator’s market data updates, telcos’ financial and operating data to the end of 2012, and market developments to early 2013.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see:

USA – Telecoms, IP Networks, Digital Media and Forecasts

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