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Looking at the Future of Fiber Broadband in 2024



Fiber optic networks have come a long way in recent years, driven by the need for fast and reliable data to serve a growing number of subscribers.

But what about the future of fiber? In this blog, we look at the state of the industry and where it’s going in 2024, and beyond.

Phenomenal Growth of Fiber Networks 

United States 

2023 saw the highest annual growth in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments in the United States – nine million homes connected to fiber, according to the Fiber Broadband Association’s (FBA) 2023 North America Fiber Provider Survey, surpassing the previous year’s record of 8.3 million. Fiber now passes nearly 77.9 million U.S. homes, more than 50% of residences in the country. This is partly due to new players, like rural electric cooperatives, who are building consumer and business fiber networks to boost this growth.  

The FBA predicts the rapid rate of growth seen over the last few years will continue to accelerate, projecting that 12 million homes will be deployed with fiber in 2024. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly as much fiber will be deployed during the next five years as has been deployed throughout history.

This growth can partly be attributed to telecom and major network providers expanding into new markets and deploying fiber in greenfield projects, along with upgrades to outdated networks to match competitive fiber offerings and the opportunity to win federal grants.

Asia-Pacific & India 

Across the globe, governments are making significant investments in critical fiber infrastructure projects. According to GlobalData, fixed broadband penetration will accelerate to 23.3% by 2028, driven by broadband network expansion and service adoption, with serious growth coming from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and India.

The Indian government launched the National Broadband Mission in 2019 with an investment of $100 billion, including $35 billion for telecom towers, $30 billion for optical fiber infrastructure, and $35 billion for spectrum and research and development.

A further $13 billion investment was announced in 2023, aimed at developing India’s optical fiber grid.


fiber-2024-chart-blog_imageFiber investment is also driving broadband network growth in Europe. Around 90% of households in Portugal, Romania, and Lithuania were connected to fiber at the end of 2022. 

Some countries are still playing catchup, with Belgium, Germany, and Greece requiring significant investment, as less than 30% of homes were connected to fiber in 2022.

This could soon change, however – it’s estimated that in Germany, nearly half of all homes will be passed with fiber by the end of 2024.

In 2023, the UK government pledged £0.5 billion to push broadband to 330,000 hard-to-reach homes and businesses, and over 100 providers are investing more than £40 billion to roll out gigabit-capable broadband across the UK, with 61% of UK properties now passed by full-fiber networks. 

The UK government has been working with broadband suppliers to reach at least 85% gigabit coverage by 2025 and nationwide coverage by 2030.

Fiber Expansion Through U.S. Government Programs 

Growth in fiber networks in the U.S. has been, in part, driven by the impact of the $1.2 trillion federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Infrastructure Act will provide money for projects in areas not yet served by broadband and includes a separate provision for underserved locations in high-cost areas. An estimated 11.8 million locations – households and businesses, rural and urban – are considered either unserved or underserved. Currently, more than 30 million Americans are thought to be living without adequate broadband. 

The money pledged by the federal government through this Infrastructure Act will go to states that can match at least 25% of project costs, and it’s expected that most of the funds will be spent on fiber optic deployments. If you’re wondering about a timeline for these projects to begin, we likely won’t see any impact on the ground immediately, as the disbursement of funds has only recently been announced, and it’s up to individual states to match those funds and award contracts.  

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act isn’t the only program happening for broadband in the U.S. The Broadband, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access through the planning and deployment of broadband infrastructure in all 50 states, and the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) is awarding $20.4 billion worth of funding to expand broadband connectivity to the most rural areas of the country

Explore the Top 3 Challenges in Deploying Rural Broadband Solutions

Increasing Broadband Demand for Consumers and Business 

The demand for fast internet connection continues to increase, driven by the proliferation of bandwidth and data-intensive applications such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and generative AI, all of which rely on fast, secure, reliable data speeds. The rise in popularity of network-intensive leisure activities, such as video streaming and online gaming, is also fueling consumer demand. 

Big players in cloud computing, like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook, require considerable bandwidth to enable their operations. The global hyper-scale cloud market is expected to grow from $191.15 billion to $693.49 billion by 2026.

Recent Innovation in Technology 

Fiber technology continuously evolves, giving us faster speeds, lower latencies, improved resiliency, greater security, and more flexible applications. Speed records are consistently being broken – for example, an 800-Gbps data rate was recently transmitted at a distance of 4,887 miles (7,865 km) using a single wavelength of light.

The introduction of 10 Gigabit Passive Optical Network (XGS-PON) technology as the industry standard in 2023 has been a big step forward, offering download and upload speeds of up to 10 Gbps. Some providers are already looking at 25G PON, and at some point, the industry may even be looking at 100G PON. 

An Exciting Fiber Optic Future 

One of the most exciting future technologies is quantum networking. A quantum network can connect any two quantum devices, such as quantum computers or sensors, over large distances. Whereas today’s internet distributes information in bits (that can be either 0 or 1), a quantum application will use quantum bits that can be 0 and 1 simultaneously. This allows more complex operations to be done in fewer steps, making the quantum internet much more efficient for certain applications. 

Using fiber as the conduit, quantum networking offers the promise of unparalleled levels of security, scalable architectures, and improved communication capabilities. Quantum networks are particularly suited for financial markets and financial transactions.

During 2023, progress was made in this area with the opening of the first commercial quantum network. There are other networks in the planning stage, and with major companies developing the hardware, it looks like quantum networks will be deployed during this decade.  

The future of fiber looks clear worldwide with high levels of predicted future growth, new advancements in technology, improvements to existing technologies, and a healthy level of investment by governments and service operators. It’s now up to broadband manufacturers to innovate and develop products that meet the challenges ahead and deliver a bright digital future. Belden and its broadband solutions business, PPC, are doing just that every day with their newly-released fiber dome closures and cabinets, and award-winning cabling solutions. 

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