Frontier Communications has nearly three million broadband internet subscribers across 25 states, on a network that reaches about 5.5 million homes and businesses via fiber and another 10 million via copper. About a third of Frontier’s potential fiber customers subscribe, three times the rate of those on copper lines. Frontier built fiber to an additional 339,000 locations in Q1 2023, ending the quarter with 5.5 million fiber passings and 15.4 million total passings. The company also added a record 87,000 fiber subs in the period, extending that customer total to 1.76 million (1.65 million residential and 110,000 business customers).
However, building out its fiber network will cost more than Frontier’s management forecast when the company emerged from bankruptcy in early 2021. Its latest two million locations cost an average of $830 to deploy. In May, management said it expects the remainder of this year’s build to cost between $1,000 and $1,100 per location. It costs Frontier another $600 or so to send a technician to a customer’s home to plug in all the necessary equipment and the like.
Light Reading reports that Vikash Harlalka, telecom analyst at New Street Research, estimates that Frontier’s fiber buildout plan faces a funding gap of about $2.3 billion. However, Frontier Communications’ plan to offer $1.05 billion in securitized debt, with the potential to upsize it, will significantly cut down the company’s funding gap to build fiber to 10 million locations by 2025. The company said:
An indirect subsidiary of the Company intends to offer approximately $1.05 billion aggregate principal amount of secured fiber network revenue term notes (the “Notes”), with the potential to upsize, subject to market conditions and other factors. The Notes will be secured by certain of Frontier’s fiber assets and associated customer contracts in the Dallas metropolitan area and constitute the first offering of green bonds by a Frontier subsidiary.
“The offering should close nearly half the gap (more than half, if the offering is upsized. It takes most of the funding risk off the table,” Harlalka explained in a research note, adding that the move also unlocks a new market for Frontier to tap into for its funding needs. Harlalka noted that Frontier had about $2.7 billion in liquidity at the end of the first quarter of 2023 – enough to meet the company’s capital needs until mid-2024. “This new debt raise should extend that beyond 2024,” he added.
Frontier said the debt offer will be secured by a portion of the company’s fiber assets and associated customer contracts in the Dallas metropolitan area, and marks the first offering of “green bonds” by a Frontier subsidiary. The offer will go toward capital expenditures and research and development, “in line with Frontier’s fiber expansion and copper migration strategies,” the company said.
Last week, Frontier stock dropped 21.3% after The Wall Street Journal reported on potential health risks posed by lead-sheathed copper wires in old networks across the U.S. Frontier declined to comment. The stock decline continued on Monday July 17th with FYBR hitting a low of $11.65 on huge volume of 12,063,100 shares. It rebounded 43.95% in the next four trading days to close at $16.77 on Friday July 21st (albeit on very light volume).
New Street analyst Jonathan Chaplin estimates that remediation costs to Frontier could reach $6 billion if it is required to rip out all the lead-covered copper on its own dime within five years. But there’s overlap with upgrading those same lines to fiber, and Chaplin calculates a $75 fair value for the stock in this unlikely scenario. “Even if it comes to pass, we see upside to the stock,” he writes.
Frontier is scheduled to announce Q2 2023 results on Friday, August 4th.
Frontier Communications fiber build-out boom continues: record number of fiber subscribers added in the 1st quarter of 2023
Global fixed broadband connections reached 1.377 billion as of Q1-2023, up by 83 million from a year earlier and reflecting an annual growth rate of 1.59%, according to Point Topic.
There was a decline in fixed broadband subscriptions in 18 countries which mainly include emerging markets, as well as some saturated markets such as Singapore. However, while there were fluctuations in growth rates across regions and markets, the overall trend indicates a steady expansion of global broadband connectivity.
Among global regions, Africa, East Asia and America Other saw the fastest growth in broadband connections (2.9%, 2.2% and 1.8%), not least due to healthy increases in broadband subscribers in the vast markets of Egypt, Brazil and China.
The share of FTTH/B in the total fixed broadband subscriptions continued to increase and stood at 66.7%. Broadband connections based on other technologies saw their market shares shrink further, with an exception of satellite and wireless (mainly FWA).
VDSL subscriber numbers grew in ten countries, while they dropped in at least 22 markets as consumers migrated to FTTH/B.
The highest FTTH/B broadband subscriber growth rates in Q1 2023 were in Algeria, Peru and UK.
At 21.6 million, the quarterly net adds were close to the figure we recorded a year ago, though the growth rate (1.59%) was slower, compared to 1.77% in Q1 2022, with global inflation and economic instability having an impact.
East Asia continued to dominate in Q1 2023, maintaining its position as the largest market with a 49.6% share of global fixed broadband subscribers. This substantial market share is primarily driven by China with its vast population.
In Q1 2023, broadband subscriber base grew faster in China, Hong Kong and Korea, compared to Q4 2022. As a result, the region’s net adds share globally went up from 63.2% to 68.8%. Asia Other accounted for 10.8% of the global broadband market, similarly to the previous quarter, though the region’s net adds share went down from 12.8% to 9.4%.
Europe’s market shares remained rather consistent, though Eastern Europe saw their net adds share decline from 3.4% to 0.5%, as a result of slower growth in almost all markets and the decline in broadband subscribers in Russia having an especially significant impact due to its market size.
Similarly, Americas maintained relatively stable market shares of 10.3% and 8.1% respectively, while America – Other’s net adds share increased from 7.8% to 9%, driven by higher growth in such sizeable markets as Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile, to name a few.
Next Point Topic looks at fixed broadband penetration among population, comparing it to growth rates across the regions.
Africa and Asia Other continue to have relatively low fixed broadband penetration rates among their populations. In Q1 2023, this metric in Africa stood at 4.6%, while Asia Other reached 5.6%. These figures indicate the potential for future expansion in these regions. Not surprisingly, Africa also recorded the highest quarterly growth rate of 2.9%.
The markets of East Asia and America Other followed closely with growth rates of 2.2% and 1.8% respectively, despite East Asia already having the highest population penetration at 41.9%. This reflects a widespread adoption of fixed broadband services in East Asia, while America Other showcases steady growth in a region with significant potential, where broadband penetration is among the lowest, at 17.2%.
Eastern Europe displayed a modest growth rate of 0.2% with a population penetration of 24.8%. Some markets in this region still have a lot of headspace when it comes to broadband adoption but the growth was sluggish, likely due to economic pressures. Other European regions showed a slightly higher growth rate, with Europe Other at 0.5%, coupled with the second highest population penetration of 39.4%. These figures indicate a mature market with limited growth opportunities.
Among the largest twenty broadband markets all but one saw fixed broadband subscribers grow in Q1 2023, although in ten of them the growth was slower than in the Q4 2022. There was a slight drop in broadband subscribers in Russia which is under international sanctions.
The less saturated broadband markets of India, Egypt, Brazil and Mexico recorded the highest quarterly growth rates in Q1 2023, all higher than 2%. China recorded an above 2% growth as well. At the other end of the spectrum, the mature markets of Germany, France, Japan, UK, and Italy saw modest growth rates at below 0.5%. At the same time, Italy was among the countries that saw one of the largest improvements in growth rates, from -0.44% in Q4 2022 to 0.04% in Q1 2023, as its GDP growth also went from negative to positive in that period. Mexico, China and Brazil recorded the largest improvements in their growth rates, at +1.14.%, +0.52% and +0.41% respectively.
Between Q4 2022 and Q1 2023, the share of FTTH/B connections in the total fixed broadband subscriptions went up by 0.7% and stood at 66.7%. Broadband connections based on other technologies saw their market shares shrink further, with an exception of satellite and wireless (mainly FWA), which remained stable.
FTTx (mainly VDSL) share stood at 6.7%. VDSL subscriber numbers grew in ten countries (including modest quarterly increase in the large VDSL markets of Turkey, Czech Republic, Greece and Germany, for example), while they fell in 22 other markets as consumers migrated to FTTH/B.
It remains to be seen whether consumers will continue to gravitate toward fibre broadband offerings, particularly as global economies face potential slowdown and inflationary pressures.
In terms of FTTH/B broadband net additions in Q1 2023, China continued to maintain a significant lead with 13.5 million while Brazil added 1.4 million. Mexico is back in the top ten league, having pushed out Argentina this quarter.
Satellite broadband also saw a modest growth of 1.3% while wireless broadband demonstrated continued relevance with a respectable growth rate of 4.9%. These trends can be attributed to the demand for connectivity in remote or underserved areas where traditional broadband infrastructure is not feasible.
The diverse growth rates among different broadband technologies highlight the dynamic nature of the industry as consumers seek more reliable and high-speed connections. The significant increase in FTTH/B connections and the growth of satellite and wireless broadband underline the ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide and ensure connectivity for all.
The top ten countries by fixed broadband subscribers remained unchanged (Figure 5). As of Q1 2023, China exceeded 0.6 billion fixed broadband subscribers, having added 14.6 million in the quarter. Also, the country is approaching 1.2 billion 5G subscribers, with the service now being used by 84% of the population.
Overall, the latest fixed broadband subscriber data reveals a clear trend towards advanced, high-speed broadband solutions like FTTH/B, while older technologies such as copper-based broadband (ADSL and VDSL) are experiencing a decline, suggesting that the broadband landscape is continuously evolving to meet the growing demand for faster and more reliable connectivity.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $714 million worth of grants and loans to small telecom companies for the provision of high-speed Internet in rural areas in 19 states. This award forms part of the fourth round of funding allocation under the ReConnect program, whose remit is to financially support the build out or improvement of infrastructure required to provide decent broadband in rural communities. The multi-billion-dollar program has been ongoing for around five years and this latest award is the third to take place under round four, the other two much smaller awards having happened earlier this year.
Essentially, the money is going into full fiber deployments. All of the 33 projects receiving funding in this latest allocation centre on the build out of fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) infrastructure.
As noted by a USDA press release, connecting all communities across the United States to high-speed internet is a central part of President Biden’s ‘Investing in America’ agenda to rebuild the national economy “from the bottom up and middle out” by rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, which the agency notes “is driving over $470 billion in private sector manufacturing investments and creating good-paying jobs.”
To add some colour, there are three projects receiving grants of just under the $35 million mark: two are in Alaska and involve the Interior Telephone Company and Mukluk Telephone Company, while a third will see the Nemont Telephone Cooperative roll out FTTP to homes, businesses, farms and schools in Montana.
The biggest loan, at just shy of $50 million, will go to the Craw-Kan Telephone Cooperative in Kansas, where a new FTTP network will reach 4,189 people, 149 businesses, 821 farms and three educational facilities in five counties.
The government itself highlighted the Kansas projects, as well as others in South Carolina, Arkansas, Oregon, California and Missouri that will all reach significant numbers of people. In all, the grants and loans will go to telcos serving communities in 19 states.
“High-speed internet is a key to prosperity for people who live and work in rural communities,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can ensure that rural communities have access to the internet connectivity needed to continue to expand the economy from the bottom up and middle out and to make sure rural America remains a place of opportunity to live, work, and raise a family.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, inked in late 2021, provides $550 billion in investment in infrastructure over the 2022-2026 period into transport, waterways, power and broadband; the last has $65 billion allocated to it. Companies awarded grants and/or loans under the ReConnect program are required to apply to participate in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides discounts on Internet connectivity for low-income households.
Naturally, the announcement of the latest funding round under ReConnect is peppered with rhetoric on the current administration’s efforts to plough money into connectivity and ignores any part played by the previous administration in the project. ‘Twas ever thus in politics. However, the important point here is that those in the White House at present are showing a strong commitment to pushing on with funding broadband network rollout in those areas that are uneconomic to the big telcos, and that has to be a good thing.
FTTH lines made up nearly 60% of French fixed broadband market in Q1-2023. FTTH subscriptions across mainland France and the overseas territories reached a 59.4% share of the country’s fixed broadband market at the end-March 2023, up by 10 percentage points from Q1 2022.
Viva La France!
According to the latest update from France regulator Arcep, the FTTH installed base added 895,000 net connections since December for a total of 19.02 million (+965,000 in Q4), representing a 22.8% increase year-on-year. As of March 31, 2023, 35.3 million premises (apartments, houses, offices, etc.) can be connected via FTTH i.e. a little over 80% of premises in the national territory. If you add cable internet that gives us 37.6 million locals who potentially have access to very high speed on wired networks in France. This represents a growth of approximately 3.6 million over the past year.
96% of Paris is connectable to optical fiber, but it’s only 50% in Lille. No explanation is given for this slowdown which is not in line with the France Very High Speed Plan which aims to generalize optical fiber throughout France by 2025.
Other high-speed networks (cable, VDSL and fixed wireless/LTE) continued to see their combined installed base decline quarter-on-quarter (-129,000) to stand at 3.25 million. As a result, the number of overall lines delivering download speeds of at least 30 Mbps reached 22.27 million at end-March.
The ADSL segment maintained its downward trend, leading to a further drop in connections delivering less than 30 Mbps. This brought the installed base across all fixed broadband networks to 32.04 million, up by 99,000 since December. This compares to with 63,000 market net additions in the previous quarter and 133,000 in Q1 2022.
Looking at progress in the ongoing fibre roll-outs, French operators brought FTTH connectivity to 840,000 million additional premises in the three months to March, for an overall footprint of 35.29 million. The pace of deployment slowed down from 1.3 million premises passed with fibre in the December quarter, and 1.1 million in Q1 2022.
On a year-on-year basis, the volume of new premises passed with fibre roughly halved across both densely populated metropolitan areas and mid-sized towns with privately funded roll-outs, while recording a 10% fall in public initiative fibre networks under deployment in rural communities. The latter reached a footprint of 12.8 million premises eligible for FTTH services at end-March, representing 610,000 additional premises since December.
- Scorecard for fixed broadband and superfast broadband services – figures for Q1 2023
- Maconnexioninternet.arcep.fr, to obtain detailed information on fixed internet access coverage, particularly thanks to FttH rollout maps (which are also still available athttps://cartefibre.arcep.fr/)
- Open data:data on fibreand data on all access technologies
Elmwood Lake Apartments is a suburban haven of elevated comfort, where sweet serenity meets desirable convenience. From cozy interiors and relaxing leisure spaces to an idyllic setting next to private Elmwood Lake, the welcoming apartments in Hudsonville, MI, are ready to deliver a heightened living experience.
“With STELLAR Broadband, residents of Elmwood Lake Apartments will enjoy the fastest and most reliable internet service available. STELLAR Broadband’s fiber optic network provides symmetrical speeds of up to 10Gbps so residents can stream, game, and work from home without any lag or buffering,” said Richard Laing, president of STELLAR Broadband.
“Bosgraaf Homes has been building homes in West Michigan for four generations. Over the years, we’ve seen the industry change dramatically thanks to advances in technology. Construction methods have evolved, and the amenities that homeowners expect have grown more sophisticated. We’re grateful for our partnership with STELLAR Broadband, a company that has been at the forefront of the industry for 22 years. Their experience and leadership have helped us make the transition into multi-family housing,” said Mike Bosgraaf, president of Bosgraaf Homes.
The first in the U.S. to bring 10Gbps Internet to the apartment in student housing, STELLAR today serves over 149 communities totaling over 10,000 residents with a wide range of technology solutions, from managed Wi-Fi, TV, and access control to security.
“DTN is excited to partner with Bosgraaf Homes and STELLAR Broadband to provide Elmwood Lake residents with a unique and enjoyable experience. Bosgraaf is building beautiful homes that will be easy to lease, and STELLAR will provide residents and our office with the best possible internet service,” said Dayle Braden, DTN property manager.
“We’ve seen and have been on the forefront of technology evolving from a desired amenity to a necessity. We are proud to partner with Bosgraaf to provide the high-quality technology that their residents expect and deserve,” Laing stated.
About Spartan Net Co, dba STELLAR Broadband:
STELLAR Broadband is the largest residential fiber internet service provider in Michigan, servicing over 149 communities with multi-Gigabit fiber internet. STELLAR provides technology design and installation services for the full portfolio of technologies for multi-tenant developments, including network design, structured wiring, consulting, door entry and access control, engineered Wi-Fi, security, voice, television services, and various Internet of Things solutions. To learn more, visit: www.stellarbb.com
Once again, AT&T ranked #1 in the U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings Leaderboard fromVertical Systems Group (VSG) for a seventh consecutive year. The fiber focused U.S. carrier retained the top spot with the highest number of fiber lit buildings across its footprint in 2022. But there’s a whole lot more AT&T #1 rankings that the carrier has not gotten proper credit for achieving:
- AT&T also holds the #1 ranking in VSG 2022 U.S. Carrier Ethernet LEADERBOARD.
- AT&T ranked #1 for the fifth consecutive year in VSG’s year end 2022 U.S. managed carrier SD-WAN leaderboard.
–>Please see the images below, courtesy of VSG.
Major mobile operators like AT&T and Verizon are actively installing new fiber for their 5G network backhaul, which facilitates new fiber connectivity to nearby commercial sites. T-Mobile no longer has any fiber assets from their Sprint acquisition. They were sold to Cogent along with all other wireline assets in a deal that closed May 1, 2023.
Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, Lumen, Comcast Business, Cox Business, Zayo, Crown Castle, Frontier, Brightspeed, Breezeline and Optimum followed. Those retail and wholesale fiber providers qualified for the leaderboard with 15,000 or more on-net U.S. fiber lit commercial buildings as of year-end 2022.
“Fiber installations at U.S. commercial sites increased in 2022, driven by escalating requirements for gigabit-speed connectivity to support cloud-based services, data centers, 5G rollouts, and other applications,” said Rosemary Cochran, principal of Vertical Systems Group. “New fiber investments in the U.S. will continue to be impacted by pending federal programs and funding initiatives. Opportunities in the commercial segment include monetizing the millions of small buildings underserved.”
U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings LEADERBOARD Highlights:
- The 2022 LEADERBOARD roster increases to twelve commercial fiber providers, up from eleven in 2021.
- AT&T retains the #1 rank on the 2022 U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings LEADERBOARD for the seventh consecutive year.
- Rankings for the top six companies on the 2022 LEADERBOARD are unchanged from 2021, which includes AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, Lumen, Comcast Business, and Cox Business.
- The next six LEADERBOARD provider rankings change as compared to the previous year. Zayo advances to rank seventh ahead of Crown Castle, which dips to eighth. Frontier moves up to ninth position from tenth. Brightspeed debuts in tenth position with fiber assets acquired from Lumen. Breezeline (formerly Atlantic Broadband) falls to eleventh position from ninth. Optimum (Altice USA brand) drops from eleventh to the twelfth and final position.
- The number of 2022 Challenge Tier citations expands from eight to nine with the addition of Ritter Communications.
Market Players include all other fiber providers with fewer than 5,000 U.S. commercial fiber lit buildings. The 2022 Market Players tier covers more than two hundred metro, regional and other fiber providers, including the following companies (in alphabetical order): 11:11 Systems, ACD, Alaska Communications, American Telesis, Armstrong Business Solutions, Astound Business, C Spire, Centracom, Cogent, Conterra, DFN, DQE Communications, Everstream, ExteNet Systems, Fatbeam, FiberLight, First Digital, Flo Networks, Fusion Connect, Google Fiber, GTT, Horizon, Hunter Communications, Logix Fiber Networks, LS Networks, Mediacom Business, MetroNet Business, Midco, Pilot Fiber, PS Lightwave, Shentel Business, Silver Star Telecom, Sonic Business, Sparklight Business, Syringa, T-Mobile, TDS Telecom, TPx, U.S. Signal, Vast Networks, WOW!Business, Ziply Fiber and others.
For this analysis, a fiber lit building is defined as a commercial site or data center that has on-net optical fiber connectivity to a network provider’s infrastructure, plus active service termination equipment onsite. Excluded from this analysis are standalone cell towers, small cells not located in fiber lit buildings, near net buildings, buildings classified as coiled at curb or coiled in building, HFC-connected buildings, carrier central offices, residential buildings, and private or dark fiber installations.
Shenandoah Telecommunications (Shentel) became the latest wireline network operator to roll out a symmetrical 5 Gbps internet tier, making it available to all 147,000 passings where it currently offers Glo Fiber service. Over 147,000 homes across Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania will have access to the fastest fiber speeds available in these markets.
The average U.S. household now has approximately 20 connected devices, and that number is expected to continue to grow. In addition, with more consumers working remotely long-term, video conferencing is here to stay. Multi-gig speeds are designed for these growing demands and will provide more bandwidth to run a multitude of connected devices at once.
“Adding 5 Gig internet service to our multi-gig product portfolio allows Glo Fiber to meet the demands of our customers and communities. 5 Gig is a premium residential service designed to connect multiple devices at their fastest possible speeds over a reliable, 100% fiber optic network,” said Ed McKay, Shentel Chief Operating Officer.
As of the end of Q4 2022, Glo Fiber was live in 17 markets across four states, including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Jeff Manning, Shentel’s VP of Product and Network Strategy, said that by the end of 2023, Glo Fiber and the new 5-gig offering will be available to just under 250,000 passings across 23 markets.
“It feels like the right time to launch,” Manning said. “When you look at the number of devices in homes, the average is well over 20 devices in every home now. So, 5-gig service gives you the capability to ensure every device in the home is fully supported with the capacity it needs.”
The regional network operator already offers 600 Mbps, 1.2 Gbps and 2.4 Gbps service tiers at price points ranging from $65 to $135. The new 5-gig tier will cost $285 per month and require customers to bring their own router.
Manning said the reason it is asking 5-gig customers to bring their own router is because that will enable them to select a device with the level of performance they need. That and there aren’t routers on the market yet which are fully capable of delivering 5 gigs over Wi-Fi. When that changes, he said, Shentel will look at options to package routers with the 5-gig plan.
As a leading broadband internet provider in the Mid-Atlantic region, Glo Fiber takes great pride in several key differentiators compared to their competitors:
- Fiber-to-the-home technology with exceptional reliability
- Symmetrical download and upload speeds
- Easy, straight-forward pricing
- Prompt local customer service
Frontier has 125,000 fiber passings in West Virginia and recently announced plans to build another 100,000 there this year. It also provides fiber service in parts of Pennsylvania, including near Harrisburg and Lancaster, areas Shentel is eyeing for its expansion.
Altice also offers its Optimum fiber service in parts of Pennsylvania, including the areas west of Carlisle, which are similarly situated in the general area of a market Shentel is targeting. AT&T and Google Fiber offer 5-gig service tiers as well but don’t appear to operate within Shentel’s footprint. Frontier’s 5-gig service currently runs $164.99 per month while Altice’s costs $180 per month.
Watkins said the majority of Glo Fiber customers today are landing in its 1-gig and 2-gig buckets, though only around 10% fall into the latter. Thus, it’s not expecting huge take rates for the 5-gig product. Instead of mass market appeal, he said it’s designed to cater to select segments of the population with high bandwidth needs.
About Glo Fiber:
Glo Fiber (Glo) provides next-generation fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) multi-gigabit broadband internet access, live streaming TV, and digital home phone service powered by Shentel (Nasdaq: SHEN). Glo provides the fastest available service to residents leveraging XGS-PON, a state-of-the-art technology capable of symmetrical internet speeds up to 10 Gbps. To learn more about Glo Fiber, please visit www.glofiber.com or 1-800-IWANTGLO (1-877-492-6845).
About Shenandoah Telecommunications:
Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (Shentel) provides broadband services through its high speed, state-of-the-art fiber-optic and cable networks to customers in the Mid-Atlantic United States. The Company’s services include: broadband internet, video, and voice; fiber optic Ethernet, wavelength and leasing; and tower colocation leasing. The Company owns an extensive regional network with over 8,300 route miles of fiber and over 220 macro cellular towers. For more information, please visit www.shentel.com.
Google Fiber is using its service launch in the Westwood neighborhood of Mesa, Arizona, market to also serve as the initial launch point for its new symmetrical 8 Gbit/s broadband service. Residential customers in Mesa can sign up for Google Fiber’s 8 Gig service for $150 per month. 8 Gig offers symmetrical uploads and downloads of up to 8 Gbps with a wired connection, along with a Wi-Fi 6 router (which allows for up to 800 mbps over Wi-Fi) and up to two mesh extenders.
The 8-Gig tier, now Google Fiber’s fastest, sells for $150 per month and comes with a Wi-Fi 6 router and two Wi-Fi mesh extenders. There are three other symmetrical broadband service tiers:
- 1-Gig: $70 per month
- 2-Gig: $100 per month
- 5-Gig: $125 per month
Google Fiber’s debut in the Westwood neighborhood of Mesa arrives about eight months after the city council there approved the buildout. Mesa, the first city in Arizona to get service from Google Fiber, is also being served by primary incumbent providers Cox Communications and Lumen.
Amid the revamp of its network expansion strategy, Google Fiber expects to start construction later this year in Chandler, Arizona, Ashley Church, GM for Google Fiber’s west region, said in a blog post.
As announced last fall, Google Fiber is also in the process of launching new 5-Gig and 8-Gig tiers in additional markets in 2023. Its new 5-Gig service is already available in several Google Fiber markets, including Kansas City, West Des Moines, Iowa, and all the cities it provides service to in Utah.
Google Fiber will start construction later this year in Chandler, AZ. As new segments are completed, we’ll offer service in those neighborhoods. Residents who want to keep up on the construction process or service availability in their area can sign up here. Google Fiber has also conducted lab tests in Kansas City that produced downstream speeds of 20.2 Gbps.
Here’s an updated snapshot of where Google Fiber currently provides or plans to provide via FTTP or fixed-wireless Webpass services:
|Market||FTTP or Webpass|
|Charlotte, North Carolina||FTTP|
|Council Bluffs, Iowa||FTTP|
|Des Moines, Iowa||FTTP|
|Huntersville, North Carolina||FTTP|
|Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri||FTTP|
|Orange County, California||FTTP|
|Salt Lake City, Utah||FTTP|
|San Antonio, Texas||FTTP|
|San Diego, California||Webpass|
|San Francisco, California||Webpass|
|*Google Fiber FTTP deployments coming to cities yet to be announced.
(Source: Google Fiber and Light Reading research)
Ziply® Fiber [1.] has announced an agreement to acquire Ptera, Inc, a fiber internet and fixed wireless internet service provider (WISP) serving four counties across Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. The acquisition, Ziply’s fourth since June 2022, is scheduled to close later this year, pending regulatory approvals. Financial terms of the buyout were not disclosed.
Note 1. Ziply was created in May 2020 after Frontier Communications sold its operations and assets in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana to WaveDivision Capital in partnership with Searchlight Capital Partners for $1.35 billion. Ziply won just over $57 million in Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) support to build fiber to more than 21,000 locations. It has also been working with state and local broadband officials on additional opportunities and plans to participate in the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program.
Image Credit: Ziply® Fiber
Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Liberty Lake, WA, Ptera serves more than 4,000 customers in the cities of Airway Heights, Cheney, Liberty Lake, Medical Lake, Otis Orchards and more. All Ptera employees will join the Ziply Fiber team as part of the acquisition.
“Both Ptera and Ziply Fiber were born here in the Northwest, and both of our companies have been focused on a similar mission to connect communities that have been underserved when it comes to reliable, high-speed internet,” said Harold Zeitz, CEO of Ziply Fiber. “We look forward to having the Ptera employees join the Ziply Fiber team and continue the work underway to expand their fiber network to reach more addresses in the region.”
Zeitz told Fierce Wireless the deal will not only help fill in a gap in its fiber map, but will also give it fixed wireless access expertise which may help it secure more customers in the future. Zeitz said, “We’re not going to build fiber generally where there is fiber. So, rather than skip those areas that we think fit what we ultimately want as our network, it makes sense ultimately to join forces rather than skip an area or build over fiber.”
Zeitz told Fierce Wireless on Friday that it now serves fiber to approximately 800,000 locations – and remains on track to hit its goal to deploy fiber to 80% to 85% of its territory. But for the 15% to 20% of locations that fall outside its economic threshold for building fiber, Zeitz said it will either use grants to help fund its build or just use fixed wireless. Its recent acquisitions “give us an opportunity to have teams that are experienced with that.”
“There’s definitely a part of the footprint that’s just too expensive to get to but they deserve better internet, so fixed wireless is a good alternative for that cross section of the population,” he said. “We may build fiber where there is fixed wireless [today] but we’ll likely have some fixed wireless and we may extend the fixed wireless. We’re in the process of thinking through how we would do that.”
Steven Wilson, CEO of Ptera, said, “Ptera has been a family-owned business for more than 20 years, and I’m very proud of the work our team has done to earn the trust and support of our customers across the Inland Northwest. I’m excited about this next chapter for the company and our future together with Ziply Fiber.”
Current Ptera customers will not see any immediate changes to their service or working relationships. Once the acquisition officially closes (which can take months), customers will benefit from expanded customer service capabilities and access to new products such as SD-WAN and improved network management capabilities.
Meanwhile, the fiber buildout boom shows signs of slowing due to inflationary pressures for labor and equipment with a higher interest rates (i.e. cost of capital). In a new report to MoffettNathanson clients, Craig Moffett found that incremental telco fiber passings in 2022 were about 500,000, roughly 8% below year-ago expectations. Meanwhile, combined guidance for 2023 has dipped by 3.1 million, or 40%, he added, noting that this doesn’t include the build activities of private companies such as Windstream, Brightspeed, Ziply Fiber and Cincinnati Bell (altafiber).
AT&T has reduced the pace of future fiber buildouts to 2 million to 2.5 million per year, down from the prior suggested run-rate of 3.5 million to 4 million. That doesn’t include the AT&T-BlackRock joint venture initially targeting the buildout of 1.5 million fiber locations outside AT&T’s current footprint.
Lumen’s build also dropped about 33% from its year-ago guidance amid a broader company “reset”. Frontier Communications’ expected 2023 build has been cut back by about 300,000 passings, though its target to build fiber to 10 million locations by 2025 hasn’t changed.
Altice USA has also reduced its original fiber upgrade plans, putting more emphasis on DOCSIS upgrades in rural footprint.
Moffett doesn’t see any near-term relief as more government funds are released to support rural builds. “We expect labor cost pressures, in particular, to worsen,” he wrote. “We are inching ever closer to the allocation of rural subsidy BEAD [Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment] funds to states, and then to individual grantees. Those projects will introduce an enormous new source of demand for labor (and for crews from contract builders such as Dycom).”
About Ziply Fiber:
Ziply Fiber is local in the Northwest, headquartered in Kirkland, Washington, and has major offices in Everett, Washington; Beaverton, Oregon; and Hayden, Idaho. Most of Ziply Fiber’s executive team, which consists of former executives from AT&T, CenturyLink, and Wave Broadband, either grew up in the Northwest or have spent the better part of 30 years living here. That local ownership and market familiarity is an important part of the company mindset and culture. Ziply Fiber’s primary service offerings are Fiber Internet and phone for residential customers, Business Fiber Internet and Ziply Voice services for small businesses, and a variety of Internet, networking, and voice solutions for enterprise customers. The company also continues to support Ziply Internet (DSL) customers and its TV customers in Washington and Oregon.
Ziply Fiber has committed to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to build an advanced, 100-percent fiber network to both suburban and rural communities across the Northwest that have been underserved when it comes to internet access. The company has been actively building fiber across the Northwest since June 2020 and has plans to build and deploy new fiber-optic cables, local hubs, new offices, and new hardware to run the network as part of hundreds of additional projects across its 250,000-square-mile footprint.
A full listing of products and services can be found at ziplyfiber.com.
Ptera, a Liberty Lake, WA based telecommunications corporation, was founded in 2001 as a family-owned business. Today, Ptera is a pioneering wireless internet service provider operating a network with coverage in four counties across Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. Ptera also offers hosted voice over IP phone solutions serving customers across the country. The company’s service has no data caps on fiber internet and the lowest latency in town, even lower than DSL or cable providers. Ptera’s VoIP service offers crystal clear digital phone calls over an Internet connection utilizing your current handset or Cisco office phone.
For more, visit ptera.com.
Frontier Communications Parent, Inc. (“Frontier”) reported impressive 4th quarter and full-year 2022 results today. The fiber facilities based carrier added a record 76,000 fiber subs in the last quarter, more than two times what it added in the year-ago quarter. The bulk of those fiber subscriber gains are coming from cable competitors, execs said.
Frontier ended 2022 with 1.7 million fiber customers, a figure that represents the majority of its total base of 2.8 million broadband subs. Frontier also built out a record 381,000 new fiber locations in Q4, ending 2022 with 5.2 million fiber locations. That gets Frontier past the halfway point toward a goal of building fiber-to-the-premises to 10 million locations by 2025.
Total revenues were down year-over-year, but consumer fiber revenues rose 7.7% to $436 million versus the prior year period, offsetting declines in video. Consumer fiber broadband revenues surged 15.5%, to $283 million.
“We ended the year strong with another quarter of record operational results. We now have the fiber engine we need to power our growing digital infrastructure business. This is how we advance our purpose of Building Gigabit America,” said Nick Jeffery, President and Chief Executive Officer of Frontier.
“This year, we will accelerate our fiber build and give customers more reasons to choose the un-cable provider. The team is fired up and ready to return to growth in 2023.”
Frontier expects to accelerate its fiber build to 1.3 million homes in 2023 – about 20% faster than its 2022 pace – and end the year with 6.5 million fiber locations. Frontier is also exploring fiber builds beyond its initial goal of 10 million. The company has identified 1 million to 2 million copper locations where it can upgrade to fiber cost-effectively. There’s another 3 million to 4 million locations in its footprint that remain financially unattractive but could get over the hump with government subsidies or partnerships.
Even with its faster build pace, Frontier expects 2023 capital expenditures to reach $2.8 billion, essentially flat versus 2022’s $2.74 billion. Frontier anticipates its fiber buildout costs will stay in its envelope of $900 to $1,000 per location passed.
Frontier believes it’s set to grow its average revenue per user (ARPU) by 2% to 3% in 2023. Tied in, it’s updating its pricing and looking to upsell customers to higher speeds (more than half of new subs are choosing speeds of 1-Gig or more) while also reducing its reliance on perks such as gift cards.
Source: Frontier Q4 2022 earnings presentation
On the wholesale side, Frontier has fiber tower deals with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile and recently inked an expanded deal with AT&T to connect it to Frontier’s central offices. Company President and CEO Nick Jeffery suggested that the same model could apply to the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and other cloud companies that are distributing data and could make use of cache locations where data is being consumed.
But that handwork with wireless network operators has yet to drive Frontier toward deals that could enable it to add mobile services to the bundle, and follow the path being taken by major cable operators such as Comcast and Charter Communications.
Jeffery reiterated a position that Frontier is keeping close watch on potential MVNO partnerships but that no such agreement is imminent. Such a deal could be a “distraction of our capital,” he said.
“For the moment, we don’t see the need to launch with an MVNO and bundle with our core broadband offer,” Jeffery explained. “We think it’s something we could spin up relatively quickly and efficiently if we needed to.”
Full-Year 2022 Highlights:
- Built fiber to 1.2 million locations, bringing total fiber passings to 5.2 million by the end of 2022 – more than halfway to our target of 10 million fiber locations.
- Added a record 250,000 fiber broadband customer net additions, resulting in fiber broadband customer growth of 17.5% from 2021.
- Revenue of $5.79 billion, net income of $441 million, and Adjusted EBITDA of $2.08 billion.
- Capital expenditures of $2.74 billion, including $1.52 billion of non-subsidy-related build capital expenditures and $0.06 billion of subsidy-related build capital expenditures.
- Surpassed our $250 million gross annualized cost savings target more than one year ahead of plan and raised our target to $400 million by the end of 2024.
4th-Quarter 2022 Highlights:
- Built fiber to a record 381,000 locations
- Added a record 76,000 fiber broadband customers
- Revenue of $1.44 billion, net income of $155 million, and Adjusted EBITDA of $528 million
- Capital expenditures of $878 million, including $517 million of non-subsidy-related build capital expenditures and $33 million of subsidy-related build capital expenditures
- Net cash from operations of $360 million, driven by strong operating performance and increased focus on working capital management
- Achieved annualized run-rate cost savings of $336 million
4th-Quarter 2022 Consolidated Financial Results:
- Frontier reported revenue for the quarter ended December 31, 2022, of $1.44 billion, a 6.9% decline compared with the quarter ended December 31, 2021, as growth in consumer, business and wholesale fiber was more than offset by declines in copper and subsidy.
- Revenue growth was negatively impacted by the expiration of CAF II funding at the end of the fourth quarter of 2021.
- Excluding subsidy-related revenue, revenue for the quarter ended December 31, 2022, declined 2.5% compared with the quarter ended December 31, 2021, an improvement in the year-over-year rate of decline reported for the quarter ended September 30, 2022.
- Fourth-quarter 2022 operating income was $136 million and net income was $155 million.
- Capital expenditures were $878 million, an increase from $559 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, as fiber expansion initiatives accelerated.
4th-Quarter 2022 Consumer Results:
- Consumer revenue of $764 million declined 2.3% from the fourth quarter of 2021, as strong growth in fiber broadband was more than offset by declines in legacy video and voice.
- Consumer fiber revenue of $436 million increased 7.7% over the fourth quarter of 2021, as growth in consumer broadband, voice, and other more than offset declines in video.
- Consumer fiber broadband revenue of $283 million increased 15.5% over the fourth quarter of 2021, driven by growth in fiber broadband customers.
- Consumer fiber broadband customer net additions of 73,000 resulted in consumer fiber broadband customer growth of 17.9% from the fourth quarter of 2021.
- Consumer fiber broadband customer churn of 1.32% was flat with the fourth quarter of 2021.
- Consumer fiber broadband ARPU of $61.20 declined 1.6% from the fourth quarter of 2021, as price increases and speed upgrades were more than offset by the autopay and gift-card incentives introduced in the third quarter of 2021.
- Excluding the impact of gift-card incentives, consumer fiber broadband ARPU increased 0.9% over the fourth quarter of 2021.
4th-Quarter 2022 Business and Wholesale Results:
- Business and wholesale revenue of $659 million declined 2.6% from the fourth quarter of 2021, as growth in our fiber footprint was more than offset by declines in our copper footprint.
- Business and wholesale fiber revenue of $285 million increased 5.5% over the fourth quarter of 2021, driven by growth in both business and wholesale.
- Business fiber broadband customer churn of 1.33% increased from 1.23% in the fourth quarter of 2021.
- Business fiber broadband ARPU of $107.68 increased 0.8% from the fourth quarter of 2021.
Separately, Frontier introduced its Fiber Innovation Labs yesterday – National Innovation Day – designed for inventing and testing new patents, technologies and processes that will advance its fiber-optic network. Improving the customer experience and driving efficiencies are key to accelerating Frontier’s fiber-first strategy. Frontier’s labs serve as a testing ground to find new technologies and procedures to advance the way it delivers blazing-fast fiber internet to consumers and businesses across the country.
“The work we are doing in our Fiber Innovation Labs will change the way we serve our customers and will ultimately change the industry,” said Veronica Bloodworth, Frontier’s Chief Network Officer. “We have the best team in the business – they live and breathe innovation. They have been awarded several patents and are in the process of bringing those new inventions to life to deliver the best ‘un-cable’ internet experience to our customers. Be prepared to be amazed.”
As part of Frontier’s Fiber Innovation Labs, the company has launched its first-ever outside plant facility in Lewisville, Texas. The facility is designed as a miniature suburban neighborhood that mimics the real-life experiences of its techs serving customers every day. It features roads, sidewalks, a state-of-the-art central office, a small house and a reconstructed manhole system. It also simulates weather elements and temperature changes. Here, the Frontier team can test and learn new methods in real-world environments to install and maintain its fiber-optic network.