Is fiber optic broadband to the home a viable technology? Verizon is betting heavily that it is, and the returns are starting to show. The company has announced that it has signed up one million subscribers for its FiOS service. Half of those subscribers are receiving television service via FiOS.
Now, these numbers pale compared with competing services. The combined satellite services have around 30 million subscribers, and Comcast cable is closing in on 25 million all by itself. When you consider the FiOS didn’t get started until the second half of 2006, however, the growth rate is pretty impressive.
The beauty of fiber optic is that it can deliver all your communication services to your home over one single pipe, and that pipe has a lot of capacity. With downstream speeds of 5 to 50 Mbps, and upstream rates of 2 to 10 Mbps, there is capacity to move lots of information including HDTV content. And given that the Internet and video connections are carried on the same beam of light, it should become easier at the subscriber’s end to merge the two sources of content. Fiber optic may be the key to integrating Web-based video content with traditional broadcast content. This holds the potential to opening up the home television to a world of entertainment and informationpossibilities.