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Brightspeed is born in the USA

Brightspeed will spend US$2 billion on the rollout of fibre infrastructure to up to 3 million US homes and businesses over the next five years.

If the name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s because it’s not: Brightspeed is the name that Apollo Global Management has just given to the consumer operations it is in the process of acquiring from Lumen Technologies. Or to put it another way, what was once CenturyLink is now Brightspeed.

To recap just a little, in August Lumen announced it had inked a $7.5 billion deal to sell its legacy CenturyLink-branded incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) business – which covers consumer, small business, wholesale and mostly copper-served enterprise customers – across 20 states in the Midwest and Southeast of the US. The assets reached around 7 million addressable locations and included approximately 200,000 fibre-enabled units. The Lumen brand came into existence the best part of a year earlier, when the parent company formerly known as CenturyLink renamed itself, retaining the old brand purely for the legacy ops and adding a new Quantum Fiber brand for its fibre-based operations.

The Apollo takeover is not yet complete, but the company did not provide any additional detail on progress, other than to say that, subject to the usual regulatory approvals and so forth, it is due to close in the second half of next year. That’s in line with what it said when it first announced the deal.

As such, Apollo is getting a flying start on turning around its not-that-soon-to-be new assets. The company is talking a good game on helping to “bridge the digital divide” by rolling out fibre, and therefore faster and more reliable Internet services, to under-served communities, but let’s not forget that it is an investment firm. Getting in at the fibre rollout phase gives it ground-floor access to network infrastructure that promises long-term, reliable returns, as well as creating a more valuable asset than the one it purchased.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t change the fact that the US is getting a new fibre builder and more people are gaining access to fibre broadband, should they want it.

“As we take the first steps in our journey and develop our infrastructure investment plans to provide consumers, local businesses and enterprise customers with the fastest, most reliable connections they need to accomplish what’s most important to them, we now have a brand identity that uniquely reflects our product attributes and customer experience,” said Brightspeed chief executive Bob Mudge.

“We have an incredibly talented team of network builders and lifelong customer advocates who are eager to accelerate the upgrade to fiber optic technologies in parts of the country that have been historically under-invested,” he said.

Brightspeed notes that its leadership team has worked together for more than two decades, their achievements including the buildout and growth of Verizon’s Fios fibre service. Indeed, Mudge has the post of EVP network operations at Verizon on his CV, along with other posts at the telco, while

the new Brightspeed Chief Operating Officer Tom Maguire and Chief Administration Officer Chris Creager both spent many years at Verizon.

“We are thrilled to introduce Brightspeed and to continue building our team with innovators who share a commitment to outstanding customer service,” said Creager. “We know what it takes to drive industry change, and while the investment and transformation we are planning are bold, we are confident we will have the right team members, partners, and resources to bring fast, reliable, and user-friendly internet to the communities that need it most.”

We’ll see how it all pans out in the fullness of time.

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