A trio of former Verizon executives are seeking to learn from the operator’s Fios rollout to build an even better network under the Brightspeed name, as part of Apollo Global’s $ 2 billion effort to transform ILEC assets as it purchased from Lumen Technologies.
Apollo signed a $ 7.5 billion deal with Lumen in August to acquire ILEC assets in 20 states. Earlier this month, it announced that the holdings will be rolled into a company called Brightspeed when the deal closes, and it unveiled a plan to implement fiber to 3 million locations over the next four years. That number represents about half of the addressable locations in the acquired footprint.
Ex-Verizon execs Robert “Bob” Mudge, Tom Maguire and Chris Creager were hired to lead the responsibilities as Brightspeeds CEO, COO and Chief Administration Officer, respectively. Creager told Fierce that the project provides an opportunity to build a whole new and “groundbreaking” network.
The Fios network that we built is pretty much considered the gold standard when it comes to local broadband access, and we think we can do even better than that with the experience we have learned and the experience we have. gained over the years, “he said. “What we’re trying to do as we go through this is to step back and say ‘ok, it’s now chapter two, how can we think about how we design the whole network now end-to-end a little differently. ‘ ”
That means having talks with vendors about making “some tweaks” to their products to enable Brightspeed to build its new fiber network faster and more efficiently, Creager added.
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Maguire said Brightspeed plans to build an XGS-PON network for a mix of greenfield locations and brownfield locations currently served by Lumen’s copper DSL network. It is currently in discussions with “all the best suppliers” and has shared its forward-looking plans with them to lock its place in the production line, he said. Maguire added that their supply for 2022 is “well secured” and the company is already planning its needs beyond that.
The company also works with vendors to ensure it can offer a robust networking experience at home. Mudge said the quality of a customer’s Wi-Fi is how most people will “determine the efficiency of the broadband. They’re not as focused on whether it’s fiber or copper, no matter what the speed of the house.”
Brightspeed’s primary service offering will be a 1-gig product, but Mudge said it will eventually introduce multi-gig service levels. “We want to lead the market at the right time,” Mudge explained. “When and how we introduce it as an offer, we will set the pace for the success and demand from the concert service.”
But Brightspeed is not just looking to serve private customers with its fiber. It also has an eye on companies and even wholesale users.
Creager said the existing copper network that is in place is not really suitable for that kind of customers. “Not only will we be able to provide better access through fiber facilities to businesses and wholesale customers, but the services or products that we will offer through that network will also be improved,” he said. “So we want to put a lot of focus on making sure we scale up and update the product set for business to make sure we’re very competitive.”
Mudge said, among other things, that it will come on the market with voice-over IP, data and security offerings.
While its focus is clearly on fiber, executives said Brightspeed will also take immediate steps to stabilize the copper network it buys from Lumen and do what it can to improve the customer experience. Maguire noted that some subscribers to the DSL network today can only get speeds of around 3 Mbps, meaning “they barely get enough broadband.”
Work on the copper front will include addressing congestion in the home, in the DSL access multiplexer (DSLAM) and in the transportation network, Mudge said.