Optical/IP Networks

Altice USA crosses fiber subscriber milestone as network upgrade expands

Altice USA offered a progress update on its fiber strategy, announcing Thursday that the operator now serves more than 100,000 customers on a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network that currently passes about 1.3 million homes and businesses.

(Source: Richard Levine/Alamy Stock Photo)
(Source: Richard Levine/Alamy Stock Photo)

The milestone appears to represent a possible acceleration in the pace of fiber broadband subscriber additions. Altice USA added 11,000 FTTP customers in Q1 2022, for a total of 81,000, so it appears that the operator has added at least 19,000 during a second quarter that still has another week to go.

Click here for a larger version of this image.  
(Source: Altice USA Q2 2022 earnings presentation)
Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Altice USA Q2 2022 earnings presentation)

The updated fiber subscriber count enters the picture as Altice USA plows ahead with an aggressive FTTP network upgrade plan that will see the company add about 6.5 million fiber passings across its Optimum footprint (in parts of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey) and its more rural-focused Suddenlink service area by the end of 2025.

Under the current plan, Altice USA expects to build 1.3 million FTTP passings this year, 1.6 million each in 2023 and 2024, and another 800,000 in 2025.

Taking a page from several US telcos that have launched multi-gigabit services over fiber, Altice USA recently unleashed symmetrical 5-Gig and 2-Gig services on parts of its Long Island area fiber network. The new 5-Gig service sells for $180 per month, and the 2-Gig offering fetches $120 per month.

Altice USA's fiber subscriber growth update also arrives as the company looks to reverse recent broadband subscriber losses. Altice USA lost 13,000 residential broadband customers in Q1 2022, but believes its fiber strategy will result in broadband subscriber growth in the second half of the year.

HFC sticking around

Though FTTP is the path forward for Altice USA, the company has stressed that it has no plans or justification to tear down or decommission its existing hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) network any time soon. That's partly because it would simply take a long time to transition all of those existing HFC subs to the fiber platform, Altice USA CFO Michael Grau said at the recent JP Morgan Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference. Grau also made it clear that the focus is on driving new customers to the fiber network rather than migrating existing HFC customers to fiber.

"I don't see a justification for us shutting down the HFC network," he said, noting that it costs Altice USA about $60 million per year to power its legacy HFC network.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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