Frontier Communications and Ziply Fiber have secured more funding for their respective fiber optic network building projects and network upgrades.
On October 4th, Frontier announced that it intends to offer, subject to market conditions and other factors, $1.0 billion aggregate principal amount of second lien secured notes due 2030 (the “Notes”) in a private transaction. This offering comes approximately five months after Frontier emerged from bankruptcy armed with a multi-year plan to upgrade millions of residential and business locations in its footprint. Frontier plans to deploy FTTP to about 600,000 homes this year and, more broadly, to extend FTTP to about 10 million homes by 2025.
According to Jeff Baumgartner of Light Reading, Frontier will deploy XGS-PON and is debating what to do with a remainder of its fiber and copper network. Its footprint includes rural areas that aren’t as economically attractive as the original portions of its upgrade plan. The company has discussed multiple ideas for a so-called “Wave 3” buildout that might include exploring joint ventures, securing private equity or pursuing asset swaps.
Frontier offers a variety of services to residential and business customers over its fiber-optic and copper networks in 25 states, including video, high-speed Internet, advanced voice, and Frontier Secure® digital protection solutions. Frontier Business™ offers communications solutions to small, medium, and enterprise businesses.
In a prepared statement, Ziply says the new funding will support its ongoing fiber expansion. “It will ensure that we have the resources on hand to keep up the strong pace of construction we’ve set for ourselves as we head into the new year, and to continue to deliver on our goal to providing the best connected experience possible for people in the Northwest.”
At the time of its acquisition from Frontier, Ziply reported that 31% of its homes passed were fiber capable. Ziply fiber expansion goals targeted reaching 80% by 2024. The company reported passing 1.6 million locations when it was formed.
Washington state is the company’s largest market, and Montana is its smallest. Ziply employs more than 1,400 people, according to the statement about the additional funding.
The company says on its website that it is “investing $500 million to bring the best, fastest internet to our neighbors across the region.” And that was before the new $300 million funding offer.
Ziply Fiber currently serves about 500K customers across its four state footprint and has been pushing fiber deeper into its network. The company has been steadily announcing new fiber markets, adding 14 to its growing list in August 2021.
Earlier this year, Ziply Fiber announced it was moving ahead with an FTTP network upgrade that will deliver 1-Gig services to another 14 markets in Washington state and Oregon later this year. That ties into a broader commitment to deploy FTTP to 52 markets in its regions.
Like Frontier, Ziply Fiber is also starting to gear its efforts toward XGS-PON, a standard that paves the way for symmetrical 10Gbit/s services and beyond.
Ziply Fiber uses GPON today but is “fast approaching where everything will be XGS-PON,” Ziply Fiber CEO Harold Zeitz told Light Reading in a recent interview. “We are preparing all of our network for XGS. The only difference will be the ONT [optical network terminal] that goes on the home. Everything else will be XGS-ready.”