Lumen’s big fiber roll-out push from 2.5M to 12M locations passed in the next few years

At the 2022  CitiApps Economy Virtual Conference yesterday, Lumen Technologies, Inc (formerly CenturyLink) President and CEO Jeff Storey said his company plans to increase its fiber deployments from 2.5 million locations to 12 million, which represents a five-times increase over the company’s traditional deployment rate.  Storey said Lumen had been investing about 400,000 new fiber locations passed every year. “We have been very strategic and targeted and micro targeted in our approach to. We wanted to build — all digital experience of the quantum fiber platform, we’ve done that our NPS scores are really, really exceptional for quantum fiber. And so we’ve proven that we can build successfully, we proven that we can deliver successfully, and built all of the systems around the customer unnecessary to do that. So we’ll continue to invest there.”

Storey did not state how many years it would take company to reach 12M locations passed.

Separately, Lumen is expecting to close a sale of its local exchange business (formerly US West) to Apollo Funds in the second half of the year, which means it will retain mostly markets in metro areas.  “We’ve rewritten the consumer playbook,” said Storey, noting that the company is now positioned as an “all-digital fiber brand.”

Like other broadband providers that have relied, in large part, on traditional copper network infrastructure, Lumen has been losing broadband customers in recent years. The company hopes that its investment in fiber will reverse that trend and has set a goal of returning to revenue growth within two to three years.

“Fiber wins. If you are competing with any other technology, fiber wins.  And we’ll continue to deliver the majority of our services over fiber infrastructure and integrate those capabilities into an all digital experience. And when you do that, I think Lumen wins.” Storey said.

Lumen’s office building at 1025 Eldorado Blvd, Broomfield, CO 80021

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Not surprisingly, considering Lumen’s emphasis on the business market for telecom services, Storey went on to note several advantages that are likely to be most appealing to business customers. In particular:

Fiber and data communications are more important than ever. But we don’t just look at it as data growth opportunity. For example, enterprises are shifting. I already said this, but more and more to hybrid environments. With hybrid employees, hybrid computing, hybrid network connect those employees, the computing, the applications that they use in the most sensible manner.

We look at combining our fiber infrastructure with capabilities like SASE, edge computing, and dynamic connections. Dynamic connections is really our network as a service capability. We create hybrid computing and networking environments that empower the enterprises to acquire, analyze and act on their data.

And looking over the Lumen platform, we enable new technologies and expanding our addressable market and we believe we’re in a great position to deliver. At the beginning of last year, we announced we’d have edge computing resources within five milliseconds, from 95% of U.S. enterprises. By the end of the year, we actually completed that somewhere in the middle of June, July, and today we’re around 97%. So we believe we have a great infrastructure tightly coupled with our fiber capabilities and we think there’s a great opportunity. Lumen and industry analysts agree, that is a major opportunity with 10s of billions of dollars in revenue potential. But it’s more than focusing on one product. It’s our ability to combine our services into holistic solutions for our enterprise customers.

Because we are a fiber-based platform… bringing our services to our customers with the connectivity of the fiber but also to cloud service providers, major data center providers,…private data centers of our customers [and] to eyeball networks,” he said, “we are in an excellent position to… help [customers] acquire their data, analyze their data [from] all of these different cloud options… and then act on their data.

In his opening remarks, Storey summed up Lumen’s strategic plan for 2022:

Our top priority is revenue growth, and we’re very focused on that, 2022 will be somewhat an investment year for Lumen, something CapEx and OpEx. CapEx is generally success-based initiatives that we have. But OpEx is a little more proactive investing in things like product development, marketing, brand, and other go-to-market initiatives that we have. We will continue to focus on investing and augmenting the Lumen platform, we believe it’s a great way to enable new technologies and expand our capabilities and our addressable market. We’ve already announced our accelerated quantum fiber bill, and plan to add more than 12 million locations over the coming years in the remaining 16 states that we operate in the states.

Lastly, we continue to invest in transforming our business for better customer experience, and operational efficiencies. We’ve done a great job of improving our customer experience, at the same time taking costs out of the business by using the technologies that we sell to our customers and then using other technologies in our business direct.

This strong increase in fiber deployment echoes what was said earlier this week at the 2022  CitiApps Economy Virtual Conference from Scott Beasley of Frontier Communications and AT&T’s CEO John Stankey.  Also, from MSO Cable One’s joint venture with three private equity firms.

References:

Lumen’s Fiber Internet Offerings:  https://www.lumen.com/en-us/networking/business-fiber.html

Transcript: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4478335-lumen-technologies-inc-lumn-ceo-jeff-storey-presents-citis-appseconomy-virtual-conference

Webcast Replay: https://kvgo.com/citi-apps-economy-conference/lumen-technologies-jan-2022

CEO: Lumen Plans Fiber Deployment Rate of 5x its Historical Rate

 

Frontier Communications reports added 45,000 fiber broadband subscribers in 4Q-2021 – best in 5 years!

Frontier Communications added 45,000 fiber broadband subscribers in the fourth quarter, its best performance gains in five years, Frontier’s Scott Beasley said at the 2022 Citi Apps Economy Virtual Conference. The company hopes to expand by 1 million fiber locations this year as part of plan to reach 6 million by 2025.

Comment: That’s great progress for a company that filed for bankruptcy in April 2020 with a plan to cut more than $10 billion of its $17 billion debt load by handing ownership to bondholders. It was the biggest telecom filing since WorldCom in 2002, reflecting years of decline in its business of providing internet, TV and phone service in 29 states.

When combined with legacy DSL losses, Frontier added 9K net new broadband subscribers. Frontier is currently on an aggressive fiber build strategy that aims to add a total of 6 million locations by the end of 2025, resulting in 10 million locations reached in total. Beasley reports the company added 600K new fiber locations in 2021, with a goal of adding another million locations by the end of 2022. Beasley reports that the much discussed supply chain challenges facing the broadband industry have not had a significant impact at Frontier.

“We’ve managed through supply chain constraints and been able to perform very well in our fiber build and continue to ramp that up for 2022,” he said.

  • This marked the first time in more than five years that the Company has posted total broadband customer growth in a quarter.
  • The Company expects to continue growing the total broadband customer base as its fiber build accelerates.

Source: Frontier Communications Q3 2021 earnings presentation

Frontier has completed ‘wave 1’ of this fiber expansion.  The company is now beginning ‘wave 2,’ which will take them through 2025, getting them to 6 million new locations. Build costs in wave 2 are a bit higher at $900 to $1,000 per fiber location.

Frontier envisions a ‘wave 3’ coming, but that’s outside the scope of their current committed-to fiber build. Beasley says Frontier will look to leverage government funding programs and other partnerships to help fund wave 3 fiber builds.

“There could be scenarios where we accelerate the build of some locations in wave 3 into wave 2,’ he said in discussing Frontier broadband growth. “That will likely be a destination of significant government funding as the roughly $45 billion of infrastructure bill funding that goes to broadband will be targeted at locations like wave 3.”

Asked about potential competition from fixed wireless access (FWA) and satellite broadband services, Beasley said neither presents a material threat just yet. While FWA may gain traction in some ultra-dense urban locations and satellite in extremely rural areas, Beasley asserted neither technology will be able to stand up against Frontier’s gigabit fiber offerings. The company already offers 1 Gbps and is planning the rollout of a 2 Gbps plan in the first half of this year as well as a 10 Gbps tier somewhere down the line.  “It’s a technology we’re watching closely but don’t think it can compete with our core symmetrical speeds in fiber,” Beasley said of FWA.

“Against our core gigabit plus offers, 1 gig symmetrical speeds now, we’ve said we’re going to launch 2 gig in the first half of 2022, eventually we’ll move to 10 gig, the core network is 10 gig capable now, we’ve trialed 25 gig successfully in certain parts of the network,” he said. “I don’t think fixed wireless has the capacity to compete with that core infrastructure. It will be competitive in certain niches of the market…but I don’t think it can compete with our core symmetrical speeds and fiber,” he added.

References:

https://kvgo.com/citi-apps-economy-conference/frontier-jan-2022

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4478155-frontier-communications-stock-subscriber-growth-higher-profits

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/frontier-adds-45k-fiber-lines-posts-first-broadband-growth-5-years-q4

With 45K New Fiber Subscribers, Frontier Sees First Positive Broadband Growth in 5 Years

AT&T Communications CEO optimistic about wireless revenue and fiber buildout

Speaking at Wells Fargo (Virtual) TMT Summit, AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh discussed momentum in AT&T’s wireless business, noting that AT&T’s consistent go-to-market strategy has driven improved market position supported by healthy wireless service revenue and EBITDA growth. McElfresh noted that over the past five quarters the company has delivered its best subscriber results in a decade, with nearly 4 million postpaid phone net additions, and 1.4 million fiber net additions. At the same time, wireless delivered its best-ever EBITDA in the third quarter of 2021, up 3.6% year over year.

McElfresh said his company added over 1.4 million fiber net adds in the last five quarters. That was based on AT&T’s conviction to reinvest in what they believe is a very future-forward technology in fiber that’s got superior advantages to any other kind of broadband connectivity offering (e.g. FWA, bundled copper pairs, cable, etc).

McElfresh told the audience that the company’s fiber expansion is “rekindling” its consumer broadband business and that he has a high degree of confidence that the company is hitting “game speed” when it comes to the number of homes passed with fiber that it is achieving every month.

AT&T had approximately 14 million homes passed with fiber as of year-end 2020 and is expected to increase that to 16.5 million homes passed by the end of this year. The company now has 5.7 million fiber to the premises/home customers, including Internet access, VPN, private line, virtual private line, etc.

McElfresh said that he believes AT&T has enough “weight” in the industry that it can work with vendors to overcome any supply chain delays (which the company warned about in July).  He added that he has no concerns about achieving the 30 million locations by 2025 goal based upon the company’s current buildout pace. “I have no concerns about hitting the pace that we need to reach that,” he said.

“What I am focused on more than penetration levels is that we are demonstrating that we can step up our net add performance quarter to quarter.”  In the third quarter, AT&T added 289,000 fiber customers which was down year-on-year from 357,000. However, the company also said that 70% of its net adds were new to AT&T.

To help entice consumers to switch to AT&T’s fiber network, McElfresh said that the company has a dedicated fiber team within its consumer wireline business that is working in neighborhoods to sell fiber optic based Internet access. He added that the telco is measuring the number of fiber net adds they can achieve in 30 days, 60 days and 90 days in those local markets.  The company sees those fiber net add numbers accelerating during each of those time periods.

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Looking forward, McElfresh is encouraged by underlying mobile industry trends and sees limited signs that suggest a near-term shift in demand levels.  He said he believes AT&T’s momentum is sustainable with the company’s simplified plans, targeted subsegment approach, improved customer experience and network performance all helping AT&T retain and attract subscribers, leading to lower churn and increased customer lifetime value.  Reiterating recent comments by CFO Pascal Desroches, McElfresh indicated that AT&T’s outlook for 2022 and beyond does not assume a continuation of outsized industry net adds.  Should recent mobile industry trends continue, he believes the changes made to AT&T’s go-to-market strategy puts the company in a better position to capitalize on healthier than anticipated demand.

McElfresh noted that AT&T continues to see postpaid phone ARPU stabilizing in 2022 with an improvement in international roaming and subscribers adopting higher-ARPU plans balancing the impact of amortization accounting for device promotions. McElfresh said that fewer than a quarter of gross adds and upgrades in the third quarter traded in newer devices for premium promotional offers.  As previously noted, only about 20% of AT&T’s postpaid smartphones are on Unlimited Elite – the company’s highest-ARPU and fastest-growing rate plan.

With postpaid phone ARPU stabilizing in 2022, AT&T expects higher wireless service revenues from a growing postpaid subscriber base. McElfresh also indicated that he believes AT&T can continue to profitably increase its wireless market share going forward and reiterated that the company continues to expect fourth-quarter EBITDA growth to exceed third-quarter levels.

When asked about fiber penetration levels, McElfresh responded, “What I am focused on more than penetration levels is that we are demonstrating that we can step up our net add performance quarter to quarter.”  In the third quarter, AT&T added 289,000 fiber customers which was down year-on-year from 357,000. However, the company also said that 70% of its net adds were new to AT&T.

To help entice consumers to switch to AT&T’s fiber network, McElfresh said that the company has a dedicated fiber team within its consumer wireline business that is working in neighborhoods to sell fiber. He added that they are measuring the number of net adds they can achieve in 30 days, 60 days and 90 days in those local markets and they are seeing those numbers accelerate.

References:

https://about.att.com/story/2021/mcelfresh-wells-fargo-conference.html

https://investors.att.com/~/media/Files/A/ATT-IR-V2/events-and-presentations/final-wells-fargo-transcript-11-30-21.pdf

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/broadband/atts-mcelfresh-company-hitting-game-speed-fiber-build

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/09/21/att-ceo-john-stankeys-30m-locations-could-be-passed-by-fiber/

Cowen Analysts: Telcos to lead FTTH buildout; total 82M homes to be passed by 2027

According to a new report titled Fiber to the Home: Navigating the Road to Gigabit America, a multi-sector by Cowen analysts, forecasts  that telco fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) lines will pass 82 million American households by 2027, nearly double the 44 million households passed today. The four biggest U.S. wireline telcos (AT&T, Verizon, Frontier and Lumen) will account for the lion’s share of those deployments, together passing more than 71 million homes with fiber.

The Cowen report also projects that cable operators (cablecos or MSOs) will pass another 5 million homes with fiber lines over the next six years, largely because of Altice USA’s current big push in the New York metro area to match Verizon’s Fios rollout. Cable operators already pass about 5 million homes with fiber.

Overall, Cowen estimates that the US now has 50 million homes passed by fiber lines, with the telcos accounting for most of them.  Here are a few other highlights from the report:

  • Cowen expects state/federal funding of $130B for various broadband initiatives.
  • That will close the digital divide and expand the addressable market for broadband access.
  • FTTH will gain market share (compared to other fixed broadband access) to take ~70% of the net positive broadband subscriber adds by 2027.
  • As a result, 35M FTTH subscribers (26% market share) are expected by 2027; up from 16M (14%) today.
  • FTTH subs take speeds that are 54% faster than non-FTTH broadband subs.
  • The increase in FTTH subs will lead to exciting next-gen home applications (not specified) and ARPU growth.
  • FTTH subs have 13% higher ARPU compared to non-FTTH subs.

Large, midsized and small telcos will all participate in this massive fiber deployment, using FTTH to reverse nearly two decades of broadband market share losses to the cable industry, the Cowen analysts say. For instance, they project the nation’s biggest telcos will add a combined 7.7 million fiber subs over the next five years.

“The next few years will be historic in terms of telco FTTH upgrades, providing consumers speeds of 1 Gbit/s, closing the digital divide, expanding the total addressable market and achieving a ‘Gigabit America’,” the analysts wrote. “After years of hemorrhaging subscribers, we expect Big Telco to stem the tide of losses to Cable…

However, the report does not say that telcos will be gaining broadband customers from cable operators.  Instead, telcos will achieve broadband subscriber gains mainly by upgrading their own remaining 15 million DSL subs to FTTH.

“The cable decade of dominance of DSL-share stealing is over,” the analysts wrote, forecasting that the telcos will overtake the cable companies in broadband sub net gains by 2024. “Cable’s days of stealing DSL subs are over, though only losing modest share (DSL taking the brunt), as the focus will be on defense.”

The Cowen analysts expect cable’s broadband market share to drop very slightly from 61% today to 58% in 2027 while the telcos’ market share creeps up from 25% now to 27% in 2027.

“It’s far from doom-and-gloom for cable operators,” the analysts note. “With cable’s effective marketing plan and speed upgrades, the vast majority of subscriber losses will be from the 15 million DSL subscribers, not cable.”

The analysts expect fixed wireless access (FWA) to play a notable tole in the US broadband market by the middle of the decade, accounting for a small but increasing fraction of high-speed data customers throughout the 2020s. “FWA will establish a solid but niche foothold,” they wrote.

Cowen now expects U.S. service providers to add a collective 17 million broadband subs by 2027, enough to reach 97% penetration of occupied homes and 90% penetration of overall homes, up from 90% and 82% today.  The analysts believe that broadband could achieve utility-like penetration levels of 98% or more, like wired phone service did at its peak last century.

All this fiber optic spending will be a boon for optical network equipment vendors. Specifically, the Cowen analysts single out Calix, Adtran, Ciena, Cisco, MasTec, Nokia and Juniper as likely beneficiaries.

The analysts also see potential for further market consolidation. Some scenarios they envision are Charter buying the Suddenlink portion of Altice USA’s footprint and Charter or Altice USA merging with T-Mobile to form a third converged player in the national market.

References:

The Market Impact of FTTH

https://www.lightreading.com/opticalip/fttx/telcos-to-nearly-double-fiber-footprint-by-2027—report/d/d-id/773768?

 

Orange and Nokia demo 600Gb/sec transmission over a 914 km optical network; Nokia 25G PON

Nokia and Orange announced the completion of a network trial using the Nokia PSE-Vs, its fifth generation super coherent optics.  With this field trial, Orange has successfully validated a planned upgrade of its long-haul backbone networks to support new high-bandwidth 400 Gb/sec services, and the ability to scale fiber capacity up to 600Gb/sec. This represents an increase in spectral efficiency by 50% compared to prior technologies on its long distance optical network.

The trial was performed in real-world conditions using Nokia PSE-Vs super coherent optics in production-ready optical transport hardware, just 16 months after the lab prototype trial done on Orange’s live network.  Orange and Nokia demonstrated error-free performance at a data rate of 600Gb/sec over a 914 km network between Paris and Biarritz, under challenging  live network conditions. The fiber network consisted of 13 spans of Orange’s existing network, through multiple cascaded reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers (ROADM), using 100GHz WDM spectrum channels.

Jean-Luc Vuillemin, Vice President of International Networks and Services at Orange, said: “With the booming market bandwidth requirement and need for scalability and flexibility, it is important that Orange continues to support an ever-greater network scale and new high-bandwidth services across our terrestrial and subsea global footprint.

Validating super coherent optics with Nokia represents an important enabler for future-proof networks which will bring spectral efficiency and operational deployment flexibility to our customer solutions. Furthermore this technology will allow for power savings by nearly 50%, which is key to our objective of developing greener networks for our customers. ”

James Watt, Head of Optical Networks Division, Nokia, said: “We are delighted to work with Orange in continued support of their network upgrade plans. With the introduction of the PSE-Vs super coherent capabilities across our entire 1830 portfolio, Nokia enables spectrally-efficient transport at 600Gb/sec over real-world long haul networks, and 400Gbps services over ultra long haul networks spanning multiple 1000’s of kilometers.”

Nokia 1830 Photonic Service Interconnect (PSE)

The Nokia PSE-V
The Nokia PSE-V is the industry’s most advanced family of digital coherent optics (DCO), powering the next generation of Nokia high-performance, high-capacity transponders, packet-optical switches, disaggregated compact modular and subsea terminal platforms. The PSE-V Super Coherent DSP (PSE-Vs) implements the industry’s only 2nd generation probabilistic constellation shaping (PCS) with continuous baud rate adjustment, and supports higher wavelength capacities over longer distances – including support for 400G over any distance – over spectrally efficient 100GHz WDM channels while further reducing network costs and power consumption per bit.

Further resources:
•    Web page: Nokia 1830 Photonic Service Interconnect (PSI)
•    Web page: Nokia Photonic Service Engine (PSE) Coherent DSPs
•    Web page: 400G Everywhere

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Earlier this week, Nokia and Bell Canada announced the first successful test of 25G PON fiber broadband technology in North America at Bell’s Advanced Technical Lab in Montréal, Québec.

The trial validates that current GPON and XGS-PON broadband technology and future 25G PON can work seamlessly together on the same fiber hardware, which is being deployed throughout the network today. 25G PON delivers huge symmetrical bandwidth capacity that will support new use cases such as premium enterprise service and 5G transport.  Nokia’s 25G PON solution utilizes the world’s first implementation of 25G PON technology and includes Lightspan and ISAM access nodes, 25G/10G optical cards and fiber modems.

For the past decade, Bell has been rolling out fiber Internet service to homes and businesses across the country, a key component in the company’s focus on connecting Canadians in urban and rural areas alike with next-generation broadband networks. With this successful trial, Bell can be confident that its network will absorb the increased capacity of future technologies and connect Canadians for generations to come.

Stephen HoweEVP & Chief Technology Officer, Bell, said:
“As part of Bell’s purpose to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world, we embrace next-generation technologies such as 25G PON to ensure we remain at the forefront of broadband innovation. Our successful work with Nokia to deliver the first 25G PON trial in North America will help ensure we maximize the Bell fiber advantage for our customers in the years to come.”

Jeffrey Maddox, President of Nokia Canada, said: “Nokia innovations powered the fiber networks and the connectivity lifeline that carried Canadian homes and businesses through the pandemic. 25G PON innovations will drive the next generation of advances in our connected home experience.”

Bell and Nokia have closely collaborated over the years on many industry breakthroughs, such as the first Canadian trial of 5G mobile technology in 2016. Bell continues to work with Nokia to build and expand its 5G network across Canada.

 

References:

https://www.orange.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2021/nokia-and-orange-validate-performance-fifth-generation-super-coherent

https://www.nokia.com/about-us/news/releases/2021/11/16/nokia-and-bell-canada-test-25g-pon-fiber-broadband-technology/

 

 

Open Access Fiber Networks Explained; Underline’s Intelligent Community Network

In Open Access Fiber networks, the same physical network infrastructure is utilized by multiple providers delivering services to subscribers. The Open Access business model has been drawing attention globally as governments and municipalities find the concept of offering competition between providers and the freedom of choice for the subscriber is essential. It has also proved to be a feasible way to connect rural areas where service providers might have a hard time generating enough revenue to justify investing in their own network infrastructure.

Open access fiber networks can be the foundation for distributed healthcare, 5G, and resilient, modernized infrastructure—including responsible energy creation and secure community smart grids.

For subscribers to benefit from the freedom of choice and competition between providers that are delivering services using the same network infrastructure they will need a comprehensive way to browse the assortment of services offered.

Open Access network operators must keep track of:

  • Every single subscriber in the network, their physical address, their “technical address” (switch, switch port, etc.).
  • Which services they are buying from which provider/s.
  • The total number of customers and/or services bought if you’re operating in a three-layer model where you have to report back to the network owners how their network is utilized.

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Already common in Europe with Sweden as the best known example, open access networks are just beginning to gain market traction in the U.S.  While U.S. community-wide network operators like SiFi Networks and UTOPIA Fiber (Utah) have adopted a wholesale-like business model, newcomer Underline is taking a bit more of a direct approach.

“When people say open access in this country, they typically mean ISPs can come in and lease fiber and choose to build a given neighborhood that hasn’t been overbuilt yet. We mean something very different,” Underline CEO Robert Thompson told Fierce Telecom. “We are not a wholesale leaser of fiber. We are the fiber network literally to the doorbell.”

Underline isn’t just providing physical fiber-to-the-home infrastructure, but also a unified billing system and cybersecurity layer. The latter will allow the communities it serves to deploy smart city applications over an on-demand Layer 2 (Data Link layer) connection that will never touch the Layer 3 (Network layer) public internet, Thompson said.

“On the one hand, we directly face consumers and businesses, schools and so forth and we provide them network access connectivity and technology for a monthly connection fee. On the other hand, we look like a network infrastructure-as-a-service provider to the ISPs or content community,” Thompson said.

“We don’t provide IP,” he continued. “We’re going to move your traffic from your house ultrafast over fiber and we’re going to hand off you and your traffic to the internet service provider of your choosing. That ISP is then your IP, the routing of your traffic. They’re connecting you to that glorious world wide web,” he added.

Thompson said Underline will charge users directly on a monthly basis for connectivity, with their chosen ISP getting a portion of that cost. So, for instance, in the case where a subscriber takes a $65 per month symmetric gigabit plan, the ISP will get a $15 cut. Underline also plans to charge licensing and per subscriber fees for use of its technology stack.

Underline is now initiating construction in its first market: Colorado Springs, CO. The company will offer residential speeds up to 10 Gbps and enterprise service up to 100 Gbps, with qualifying households eligible to receive a discounted rate on Underline’s bottom tier symmetrical 500 Mbps plan.

The project will be completed in several stages, with a Phase I build set to connect 24,000 homes and 4,000 businesses with 225 route miles of fiber plant. Initial customers will include the the National Cybersecurity Center, the new Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center and Altia Software.

Thompson says that Phase II will cover roughly the same amount of ground and Underline also has a build agreement with an unnamed city “immediately surrounding” Colorado Springs. Taken together, construction in both phases and the second city will amount to “an exercise of approximately $125 million in total capital.”

“We are after this with a vengeance, and we are very thankfully supported by very strong capital,” Thompson said, noting a “drumbeat of steady announcements of drills in the dirt in new communities” is on the way.

Thompson said Underline is targeting communities with populations between 20,000 and 750,000. He noted that such communities have “historically been basically ignored by the incumbents (large telcos) and which by and large will not qualify” for federal support for broadband deployments.

Beyond that, he said Underline’s market assessments include factors like demand point density per fiber route mile, a population productivity ratio, a competition index and a social equity analysis. The latter is a key priority for Underline and “part of our social purpose,” Thompson explained.

“We want to understand and we actually want to target communities that have a significant portion of their demand points that have no internet at all or very poor internet at home because of socio economic status.  This country’s got to have internet that’s fast, affordable and fair,” he concluded.

References:

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/operators/underline-has-a-different-vision-for-open-access-fiber-u-s

https://underline.com/

https://www.cossystems.com/about/open-access/

https://www.foresitegroup.net/what-you-need-to-know-about-open-access-networks-2/

Comcast Business Announces $28 Million Investment to Expand Fiber Broadband Network in Eastern U.S.

Comcast Business today announced a two-year $28 million project to expand its network across four Mid-Atlantic states is well underway, touting it as part of an effort to bring 1 to 100Gbps service to thousands of additional enterprises in the region.

Once completed, Comcast Business will have committed a total of more than $110 million in area network expansions since 2015, to benefit nearly 35,000 of the region’s largest companies and organizations.

The operator said that work is focused on deploying new and densifying existing fiber across parts of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. Approximately $13 million was already invested in the extensions in 2020, with an additional $15 million set to be spent this year to deliver service to a total of nearly 7,000 new businesses.

The network expansion delivers speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) for small and medium-sized businesses and up to 100 Gbps for larger enterprises and will support the ability to bring new customers online quickly with advanced services, including fast business Wi-Fi for employees and guests, cybersecurity solutions, 4G LTE backup, business TV and more. Additionally, businesses of all sizes now will have access to a comprehensive portfolio of Comcast Business products and services to help meet the day-to-day demands that require large amounts of bandwidth, linking multiple sites or branch locations or connecting offices to third-party data centers.

The latest expansion deploys new fiber optic cable or densifies existing fiber services across the following areas:

  • Delaware: GeorgetownOcean ViewRehoboth Beach and Smyrna
  • Maryland: Eastern Shore, Frederick and Montgomery County
  • Virginia: AshburnDullesHarrisonburgLeesburgLynchburg and Richmond; planned investments include Front RoyalTysons Corner and Warrenton
  • Washington, D.C.
  • West Virginia: Huntington and Martinsburg

“Comcast’s infrastructure investment in Virginia supports our business community and helps us attract new businesses to the Commonwealth,” said Brian BallVirginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade.

Ed Rowan, senior director of Comcast Business Sales Operations in the Beltway Region, said in a press release:

“The ability to offer both diversity of network and carrier is becoming increasingly important to help drive economic development and transformation. Connectivity is at the core of this and, more than ever, is an integral factor as businesses expand and prepare for what’s next. Our network expansions across Comcast’s Beltway Region are the latest example of the significant technology investments we’ve made to increase the availability of our multi-Gigabit Ethernet services. These investments will help foster economic development, transform our local communities, and better meet next-generation capacity needs across the region.”

Comcast’s vast and growing fiber footprint spans 29 regional networks in 39 states and includes:

  • An enhanced fiber optic network, with more than 150,000 miles of fiber, that provides high- speed, high quality, and high-definition services to a number of large companies
  • A support structure made up of thousands of professionals with the knowledge and experience to handle any situation
  • MEF-certified carrier class Ethernet that delivers standardized, scalable, and reliable Metro Ethernet solutions – at a service and hardware level

Comcast’s nationwide fiber optic network:

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/comcast-business-announces-28-million-investment-to-expand-fiber-rich-broadband-network-in-delaware-maryland-virginia-washington-dc-and-west-virginia-301394157.html

https://business.comcast.com/about-us/our-network

Orange España: commercial deployment of 10 Gbps fiber in 5 cities

At its Orange Network Fashion Week 2021 event, Orange España announced the commercial deployment of 10 Gbps fiber broadband service in five cities in Spain.  The new service uses XGS-PON technology, provides symmetric rates (for both upstream and downstream) and will be available to both residential users and businesses in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia and Zaragoza.  The telco forecasts that 10Gbps XGS-PON will reach all of Spain, but no timeframe has been set for that.
Orange has that with this fiber speed, and by combining its technology with WiFi 6, it will be possible to increase the performance of the internal equipment of the home both for teleworking and for playing online or watching 4K content on television.
To access this new network customers will need to change the router, which is one of the main impediments for the deployment to be more massive or faster.

Orange’s new 10Gbps fiber access will be at Love Total Plus and Love Total Plus 4 rates for residential customers, and at Love Empresa 3 and 5 rates for freelancers and small businesses. Adopting this speed will mean an increase of 10 euros /month on the price of the same.

In the 10Gbps offered by Digi, only 8Gbps was obtained, and it is expected that in the case of Orange it might be similar.  It remains to be seen, what actual performance it offers.

References:

Orange launches 10Gbps symmetric fiber for individuals and companies, first in five major cities

STL Launches Accellus End-To-End Fiber Broadband And 5G Wireless Solution; India’s PLI scheme explained

India based telecom equipment company STL (Sterlite Technologies Limited) has launched Accellus, its flagship solution for 5G-ready, open and programmable networks. This new product line raises the position of STL as a provider of disruptive solutions for Access and Edge networks. For the past 5 years, STL has been investing in research and development to expand its capabilities in converged networks based on fiber optic broadband and Open RAN.

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India’s PLI Scheme

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents service providers and network equipment vendors, said that the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme will boost local manufacturing, exports and also create employment opportunities.  STL plans to take advantage of that initiative. Nokia (through its India subsidiary) said the guidelines were an encouraging initiative by the government towards making India a global manufacturing hub. “Nokia is committed to this vision with our Chennai factory that manufactures telecom equipment from 2G to 5G-making for India and the world.”

“India is already the second largest telecom market globally and this will go a long way in making the country a global hub for telecom innovation,” said SP Kochhar, director general, COAI.

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STL’s Accellus is built on this industry-leading converged optical-radio architecture. The company expects the global adoption of this decision to accelerate at a rate of 250% on an annual basis, stimulating better TCO for customers and gross margin for shareholders. Accellus will allow four main benefits for network builders – scalable and flexible operations, faster time to market, lower TCO and greener networks.

Accellus will lead the industry’s transition from tightly integrated, proprietary products to neutral and programmable converged wireless and optical networking solutions. It offers wireless and fiber-based solutions:

1. 5G multiband radios: Exhaustive portfolio of RAN radios with single and multiband macro radios. Co-developed in partnership with Facebook Connectivity to build total availability for Open RAN-based radios

2. Internal small cells: O-RAN compliant, highly efficient internal 5G small cell solution, with level 1 edge treatment

3. Wi-Fi 6 access solutions: Outdoor Wi-Fi 6 solutions providing carrier-class public connectivity in dense environments

4. Intelligent RAN Controller (RIC): An Open RAN 5G operating system that allows the Open RAN ecosystem to use third-party applications to improve performance and save costs

5. Programmable FTTx (pFTTx): A complete solution that offers programmability and software-defined networks in large-scale FTTH, business and cellular sites (FTTx) networks

Commenting on the launch of Accellus, Philip Leidler, Partner and Consulting Director, STL Partners, said: “One of the goals of the O-RAN alliance was to expand the RAN ecosystem and encourage innovation from a wider base of technology companies worldwide. the message is the last indication that this goal has been achieved. “

Commenting on the launch of Accellus, Chris Rice, CEO of Access Solutions at STL, said: “Disaggregated 5G and FTTx networks based on open standards are becoming more common for both greenfield and brownfield deployments. These networks will require unprecedented scalability and flexibility, possible through an open and programmable architecture. STL’s Accellus will unlock business opportunities for our customers and provide a immersive digital experience worldwide.”

Optical fiber has evolved in its maturity and in its form factors to drive the infrastructure medium for the “wireline” side of the network. It continues to be the preferred medium for high-speed network delivery, Rice said.

“What network infrastructure is needed for 5G to become a reality and deliver expected Performance?” 

Answer:  “Upgrade the network backhaul and core IP infrastructure for the expected growth in bandwidth that 5G Applications will enable. The necessity of wireline 5G upgrades sometimes does not get the attention it deserves; this includes IP equipment (e.g. cell site routers) and the necessary fiber upgrades to the cell sites.

Perform the network planning for the new cell site builds required to get the coverage and capacity required for ubiquitous 5G at the speeds users expect. For 5G to pay off for Telcos, there have to be new capabilities and services to sell that deserve higher price points from consumers and business users.

Ensure that operational automation is available to keep operating costs reasonable, especially as the number of cell sites grows. CAPEX is typically only 20 to 25% of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a RAN, meaning that operating costs are 3X to 4X what CAPEX is. The RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) is an example in ORAN / Open RAN that helps Telcos fulfil this need in an open way. It is essentially the operating system for Open RAN. It provides a platform for third-party applications to deliver these operational benefits and automation.”

How Is STL Helping Industry Stakeholders to Explain to Government Officials the Importance of Fiber for 5G or High-Speed Broadband?

Answer: “Network speed in the RAN air interface is essentially meaningless without the ability to ensure that the connected IP network can backhaul the required bandwidth. This fact necessitates additional fiber deployments to the existing cell sites (where it does not exist) and to new cells sites.”

In conclusion, Rice opined, “Our (STLs) newest business unit, the Access Solutions BU, focuses on fiber broadband and 5G wireless products. These products are based on open networking principles and give STL the opportunity to participate in the disruption that is occurring in the open networking markets, like ORAN and Open RAN initiatives. While Access Solutions BU is new, it has an R&D and innovation heritage of almost four years. During that time, a top talent team has been put in place, fundamental technology and innovation have been developed and matured, and now a well-defined product roadmap has been put in place as the BU launches many new products in its Accellus product line.”

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/ae/news-releases/stl-launches-accellus—an-end-to-end-fiber-broadband-and-5g-wireless-solution-301382941.html

https://telecomtalk.info/5g-ecosystem-in-india-to-pli-scheme/468656/

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/telecom/telecom-news/pli-scheme-for-telecom-gear-to-make-india-a-global-manufacturing-hub-industry/articleshow/83208259.cms

IQ Fiber to launch service in Jacksonville, FL after majority investment from SDC Capital Partners

Start-up network operator IQ Fiber has received a majority investment from SDC Capital Partners, which also owns a 48% stake in Midwest fiber provider Allo Communications.   The transaction provides IQ Fiber with significant equity funding to complete the first phase of its all-fiber network build, passing more than 60,000 homes in the Jacksonville area.

“Consumers deserve a smarter internet choice,” said IQ Fiber CEO Ted Schremp. “High-speed internet has become a necessity and is truly the heartbeat of the modern home. With the launch of IQ Fiber, Jacksonville residents will soon have access to a state-of-the-art, 100% fiber-optic network with gigabit upload and download speeds, simple subscription plans and service experts who live and work in our community.”

“We are thrilled to partner with IQ Fiber in its initial launch in Jacksonville and are excited about the larger opportunity in Northeast Florida and beyond,” said Clinton Karcher, partner at SDC. “IQ Fiber’s commitment to providing exceptional customer service, coupled with state-of-the-art fiber network infrastructure in an underserved market, creates a formula for success.”

IQ Fiber plans to offer simple month-to-month rates with no hidden fees, surcharges or surprise price increases. IQ Fiber’s three service plans will deliver symmetrical internet speeds between 250 and 1,000 Mbps, with whole-home Wi-Fi service always included.

Fiber to the home represents the state-of-the-art for the delivery of broadband services, yet it is accessible to only 36% of the U.S. population. Compounding the consumer challenge, approximately 83 million Americans can only access broadband through a single provider. With today’s announcement, Jacksonville will soon have the freedom to choose a 100% fiber-optic network with simple, no-hassle plans, supported by local experts.

Though its initial plan will see it offer service in Jacksonville starting in early Q2 2022, CEO Ted Schremp said the company is eyeing an opportunity to expand across at least four counties, including Duval (where Jacksonville is located), Clay, Nassau and St. Johns.

“That four county area represents an opportunity for us that is five times bigger than our initial Phase I build,” he said. “So we know we’ve got not just opportunity to get this first 60,000 that we’ve announced, but plenty of additional opportunity as we go forward just inside this little corner of Florida that’s growing as quickly as it is.”

The company is deploying an XGS-PON fiber network and plans to offer three service tiers with symmetrical speeds of 250 Mbps for $65 per month, 500 Mbps for $75 per month and 1 gig for $85 per month. Those prices include taxes as well as whole-home Wi-Fi, Schremp said. While it’s not alone in providing the latter, he pitched it as a differentiator for consumers who just want simplicity and a good customer experience.  The company states on its website:

Our 100% fiber-optic network is built for the modern home. With symmetrical speeds, your entire can stream, game, and work from home all at the same time and it won’t slow you down.

“A gig to the side of your house is useless if you went to Best Buy and bought a router five years ago and are just bumping along, and the average consumer just really doesn’t know how to contend with that,” he said. “The reality is they’re looking at the service provider to solve that for them and certainly that’s good for us in terms of the management of churn and the delivery of the full speeds.”

More than anything, Schremp said IQ Fiber is “trying to be what the incumbents are not.  The incumbents here are Comcast with their traditional HFC [hybrid fiber coax] service, AT&T with some fiber build and a lot of legacy DSL and we know it can be done better,” the CEO said. “We certainly know that consumers react positively to choice. They certainly are irritated by the practices of many of the incumbent providers. And we’re trying to deliver the converse of that.”

References:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210915005165/en/SDC-Capital-Partners-Closes-Investment-in-IQ-Fiber

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/operators/iq-fiber-prepares-to-take-at-t-comcast-florida