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Optical/IP

Frontier and Ziply Fiber amass funds for FTTP buildouts

Frontier Communications and Ziply Fiber both went to the till recently to secure more funding for their respective fiber building projects and network upgrades.

Frontier announced Monday it intends to offer $1 billion of second lien secured notes due 2023, aiming the offer at persons reasonably believed to be "qualified institutional buyers." Frontier said proceeds, coming way of a private transaction, will be used largely to fund capital investments and operating costs tied to its fiber network buildout and plans to broaden its fiber customer base.

The offering enters the picture roughly five months after Frontier emerged from bankruptcy armed with a multi-year plan to upgrade millions of residential and business locations in its footprint. Frontier plans to deploy FTTP to about 600,000 homes this year and, more broadly, to extend FTTP to about 10 million homes by 2025.

Frontier, which is shifting to XGS-PON, has also been noodling on what to do with a remaining piece of its footprint, which includes rural areas that aren't as economically attractive as the original portions of its upgrade plan. The company has discussed multiple ideas for a so-called "Wave 3" buildout that might include exploring joint ventures, securing private equity or pursuing asset swaps.

Meanwhile, Ziply Fiber, a company formed last year via the acquisition of Frontier's operations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, has raised $350 million in fresh funding from bond buyers.

Earlier this year, Ziply Fiber announced it was moving ahead with an FTTP network upgrade that will deliver 1-Gig services to another 14 markets in Washington state and Oregon later this year. That ties into a broader commitment to deploy FTTP to 52 markets in its regions.

Like Frontier, Ziply Fiber is also starting to gear its efforts toward XGS-PON, a standard that paves the way for symmetrical 10Gbit/s services and beyond. Ziply Fiber uses GPON today but is "fast approaching where everything will be XGS-PON," Ziply Fiber CEO Harold Zeitz told Light Reading in a recent interview. "We are preparing all of our network for XGS. The only difference will be the ONT [optical network terminal] that goes on the home. Everything else will be XGS-ready."

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

A version of this story first appeared on Broadband World News.

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