Want fiber to the home? If you’re not in FiOS territory, it’s going to cost you. I’ve been following the various research projects over at Google (s GOOG) and up in Canada debating the benefits and business models of building fiber to the home, and wondered how much it would cost. Today I sat down with a table of Time Warner Cable Business Class salesmen to hear that it wasn’t possible. Finally, one told me it might happen, but I would have to pay the cost to build out the fiber to the home — about $5,000 to $10,000, depending on how far out from the core fiber line I lived.
Okay, that is some serious infrastrucutre cost right there, something many of these “homes with tails” studies gloss over. I have no idea how accurate that price is since it’s not something people want to talk about, but Verizon FiOS estimates range from $850 per home to $4,000. So we’re not far off on the low end and perhaps, since it’s a one-time effort rather than a neighborhood-wide deployment, the high end might be reasonable.
Regardless, that’s about what I would pay to be hooked up to the city’s water system or sewer system. I am of the the belief that broadband is more like water or electricity in that everyone should have access to it, but as a homeowner looking at a $5,000 (or $10,000) cost for something that doesn’t even begin to approach that type of value, I think homes with tails will be a hard sell. Until there’s a killer application that requires that kind of infrastructure investment — and HD streaming for all content might count — I can’t justify the cost. So, the bandwidth gap between copper and fiber to the home seems insurmountable for now — but maybe, when LTE arrives in a few years, wireless networks can bridge that divide.