Can America add 10M lines of fiber in 2023? Moffett says no.

Top analyst Craig Moffett adds up announcements for US fiber homes passed and finds plans for 10 million in 2023. AT&T alone plans 4 million.

He finds that unrealistic due to the well-publicized staffing and supply problems. But soon after, I discovered that the UK passed 4 million homes the last year. Britain has 68 million people, the US, 330 million. If the US built at the UK level, we could do 17 million per year.

Six months ago, amid the global chip shortage, fiber suppliers were back ordered, in one case by 17 months. Since then, the chip shortage turned into a glut in most categories except auto. I couldn’t make the trip to Las Vegas for the (excellent) Calix event. I bet if I had, carriers would have told me the equipment problem was rapidly easing.

States and the feds are pumping dollars into technician training. Most necessary skills can be learned in six months, although I’ve heard it takes ~ 18 months to get efficient. My *guess* is that crews will be found, especially because profits are high.

Most of themoney from the NTIA BEAD $40 billion will not flow until late 2023, giving time for production capacity to catch up.

Moffett’s estimate was part of his analysis of how badly cable will be hurt by fiber builds and fixed wireless. His conclusion is the current cable stock price implies that the cable companies will be hurt very badly by competition. He think it won’t be that bad, and cable subscriber numbers will mostly hold up. He thinks cable will even be able to push through 2-4% price rises.

Put another way, it’s down so low it looks like up for cable stocks. I defer to Craig for investment advice.

I don’t think our disagreement is large enough to change the investment picture. It’s mostly a question of whether some plans will go from 2023 to 2024-5.

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