Fiber: What’s Goin’ On

Telcos are adding fiber at a rapid pace. It makes money. AT&T’s CFO John Stephens explains that the fiber delivers three sources of revenue.

Fiber works. I can use it three times. I can use it for my consumers. I can use it for my business customers. And I can use it for my wireless backhaul.

CEO Hans Vestberg of Verizon used almost exactly the same comments to explain the 1.400 miles of fiber it is building every month.

Orange/FT, Telefonica Spain, Bell Canada, and Telus cover more than half their territory with fiber and continue to add more. Orange has 8 million more homes set to pass.

Neither BT nor Deutsche Telekom had much fiber two years ago. Now, both are telling their government they are building fiber as rapidly as possible. BT is getting clobbered by half a dozen well-financed upstarts with plans for over half the country. DT saw a similar movement, including from electric utilities.

Pension funds and other long-term investors believe new fiber networks will reliably return 6-10%, much more than truly safe investments. (Totally unproven.) Goldman Sachs, Axa, and others are actively looking for places to invest.

The result: 21% growth in FTTH across Europe in 2018.

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