Despite the growing popularity of fiber, cable companies still dominate the market for internet access, with nearly half of households relying on it. Mobile wireless came in fourth at 11.9 percent, followed by fiber to the home (FTTH) at 21.3 percent and digital subscriber lines (DSL) at 13.5 percent. Fixed wireless was fifth with 3.2 percent of the market, according to a report funded by the Fiber Broadband Association.
However, fiber is quickly gaining ground due to its faster download and upload speeds compared to cable: 45 percent faster downloads and 4.7 times faster uploads. Additionally, “A Detailed Review: The Status of U.S. Broadband and The Impact of Fiber Broadband” (link) by RVA LLC Market Research & Consulting found that fiber has reduced its cost-per-bit by 90 percent over the past decade, making it a more affordable option for many households.
From 2010 to 2022, cable has been the leading internet service provider, but FTTH is gaining ground where it is available. By 2023, 5G fixed wireless/5G mobile is expected to take a significant share of the market, particularly from DSL. According to RVA estimates, 92 percent of homes have access to internet services; 77 percent through wired connections and 15 percent through wireless connections (mostly via mobile phones). Wireless speeds (both fixed and mobile) have increased to 50 Mbps, surpassing DSL and satellite speeds, but still lagging behind FTTH at 200 Mbps and cable at nearly 150 Mbps.
Historically, when new wireless technologies are presented to the media, they are often advertised with aspirational speeds – such as 1 Gbps for 4G or 20 Gbps for 5G. However, after ten years of testing in optimum laboratory conditions, these speeds usually only reach about 50 to 55% percent of the original goal. In real-world scenarios, the results are even lower – typically only about 5 to 10 percent of the original aspirational speed is achieved after a decade.
True wireless speeds are made possible by a combination of technologies. First, there’s the use of multiple antennas to create a mesh network that covers your entire home. This mesh network allows for multiple devices to connect to the same signal at once, allowing for faster speeds overall. Additionally, true wireless speeds use advanced modulation techniques to increase the speed of data transmission over long distances. Finally, true wireless speeds also use beamforming technology to focus the signal on specific devices in order to maximize speed and reliability.
With certainty, 2024 will bring big changes to cable, wireless and even fiber. Our advice is to hold on to your hat and enjoy the ride:)
by Susan Jett – Managing Editor