Brightspeed and T-Mobile US add to fibre footprints

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Nascent American ISP Brightspeed has announced the availability of full fibre broadband in six states, a move that comes as fibre rollout gathers pace in the US.

The telco is in the process of rolling out a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network with the aim of covering 1 million homes and small business by the end of the year. At the end of the first quarter it was keen to share the progress it has made towards achieving that goal, noting that services are now available in parts of Alabama, Indiana, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The launch represents the first phase of its FTTP network rollout and comes just six months after Brightspeed came into being as a standalone company.

If we were to split hairs, we might point out that we started hearing from Brightspeed in late 2021, when Apollo Global Management conferred that brand on the consumer operations it was then still in the process of acquiring from Lumen Technologies; essentially, what was once known as CenturyLink became Brightspeed. Even then, private equity firm Apollo was already talking up its intention to roll out fibre to underserved communities. By the time Brightspeed formally launched operations in October last year, its plans were firmly set.

Nonetheless, it is clearly making pretty swift progress, which is good news for the many communities in the US lacking access to fibre. And it’s not the only one.

T-Mobile US has quietly added a couple of new locations to its own fibre footprint. Pueblo and Northglenn, both in Colorado, now have access to T-Mobile fibre, Light Reading points out, the telco having added the two markets to its coverage map.

The mobile operator hasn’t said much about the move at all, but it’s clear that it too is pushing on with FTTP. It launched a small-scale fibre service in New York more than a year ago and late last year reports emerged that it was seeking a co-investor for a new fibre broadband unit that could spend in the region of US$4 billion on rollout.

It’s all gone quiet since then, on the fibre front at least. The operator has made plenty of noise about its fixed wireless access (FWA) service, aiming to take on big broadband with a 5G-based home Internet offer. But it hasn’t had a lot to say about its own plans to become big broadband. This latest snippet of news suggests fibre broadband is still in its roadmap, but thus far progress has been slow.

It could be that it’s waiting for the aforementioned cash injection, something that Brightspeed already secured with the arrival of Apollo.

“We hit the ground running as a company with this first phase of deployment and we are confident this is only the beginning of what is possible for our customers and for Brightspeed,” the operator’s CEO Bob Mudge said this week.

Brightspeed has pledged to add new locations to its fibre footprint on a weekly basis during 2023. Its existing broadband network serves a coverage area of 6.5 million locations mainly in rural and suburban communities across the Midwest, Southeast and parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with a customer base of over 1 million. It plans to invest $2 billion in its network to upgrade Internet connectivity for 3 million homes and businesses over five years, focusing primarily on locations where fibre and advanced technology are lacking, it says.

Brightspeed refers to itself as the fifth-largest ILEC in the US – incumbent local exchange carrier, that is – but it has some way to go before it can hope to match the footprints of big guns AT&T and Verizon. As will T-Mobile US, should it push on with its fibre project. But there is still plenty of ground to cover in the US, and a growing number of companies looking to do it.


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