AT&T, Verizon Lead Fiber Spending in the U.S. and Want People to Know It

Carl Weinschenk

It may not be surprising to learn that AT&T and Verizon are spending the most money on fiber in the United States. What’s noteworthy may be that they are being public about it.

A research report from Deutsche Bank Markets Research pointed out that telecommunications companies are becoming more vocal about their plans to spend money on fiber infrastructure. Fierce Telecom quoted from the report:

“Telecoms have become much more public signaling their intent to increase fiber investment, with AT&T and Verizon leading the spending ramp,” said Deutsche Bank Markets Research.”

Examples of the spending spree: Verizon is paying Corning $1 billion for 1.5 million miles of fiber and Prysmian $300 million for 1 million miles of fiber. Both deals are for three years. AT&T, in its agreement with FCC on the purchase of DirecTV, promised to provide 12.5 million homes with 1 Gbps-capable fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure by 2019.


Broadband investment is always dependent on a variety of factors. During the past couple of years, the tension is between doing work that was put on the back burner by the financial crisis and, more recently, the desire to hold back as the software-defined networks, network functions virtualization (SDN and NFV), and other fundamental architectural changes are developed and implemented. Indeed, one of the main goals of these new approaches is to reduce capital and operational expenditures.

CenturyLink Takes a Step in Level 3 Acquisition

CenturyLink’s acquisition of Level 3 Communications took an important step this week as the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division approved the transaction provided that a couple of conditions are met.

The $24 billion deal was announced last autumn. The DOJ said that the deal is good to go if Level 3 networks in Albuquerque, Boise and Tucson are sold. It must also offer indefeasible (long term) leases for dark fiber along 30 intercity routes, according to Reuters.

Approvals from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the California Public Utilities Commission are still outstanding. The companies say the deal is expected to close this month.

Broadcom Acquisition of Brocade Delayed Again

The $5.9 billion acquisition of Brocade by Broadcom is being delayed again. And, again, the reason is uncertainty from the government. SDxCentral reports that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) wants to review the deal. The agreement was that the transaction was set for either completion or scrapping by Nov. 1. That new deadline is November 30.

The story points to Wall Street Journal reporting that suggests that the CFIUS review may have been triggered by concerns related to investments by Chinese companies. The deal was pushed back in July when the Federal Trade Commission requested extra time to study elements of the combined company that were thought to possibly be anticompetitive.

More Changes for Google Fiber

Fresh evidence emerged this week that Google Fiber was continuing what some may call its evolution and others its gradual winding down. In a company blog post, Cathy Folger, the head of Sales and Marketing for Access, wrote that that it will not include “traditional TV” to subscribers in Louisville and San Antonio.

The blog post essentially suggests that enough people have switched to over-the-top (OTT) video that subscription-based cable-like packages are no longer necessary. While cord cutting is clearly increasing, there seems to be far more to the move than getting ahead of the curve. This is especially true in the context of the other moves that Google Fiber has made during the past year or so. The bottom line is that the moves in San Antonio and Louisville should be seen as part of the process of the transformation of Google Fiber into something quite different, and possibly far less, than its original mandate.

FCC’s Pai: Use USF for Hurricane Maria Recovery in VI, PR

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai this week proposed using the Universal Service Fund (USF) to help the U.S. Virgin Island and Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria.

In a blog post, Pai said that he will ask for a vote on a proposal that would provide carriers with as much as seven months of their normal USF support in an immediate lump sum. That’s a total of $76.9 million. The post says that the proposal will top the FCC’s agenda for its October 24th meeting if it has not been approved in the interim.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


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