Optical/IP Networks

Consolidated CEO bets the house on fiber

Bob Udell, president and CEO for Consolidated Communications, joins the podcast to provide an update on the service provider's fiber buildout plan and the company's efforts to deliver connectivity to rural areas. In addition, Udell explains why Consolidated is investing in more fiber across its market region of 23 states, instead of fixed wireless access (FWA).

Consolidated has a five-year plan to extend its fiber footprint to reach 1.6 million upgraded locations, and Udell says the company is on track to reach 300,000 new upgraded residential and business locations with 1Gbit/s fiber despite global supply chain issues impacting the telecom industry.

In regard to supply chain woes, "It's something we have to continue to watch," says Udell. "We see the opportunity to scale more in our build. I think fiber slicers will be the pressure point next." He adds that Consolidated is investing in training programs to educate internally to bring employees up to speed as the operator moves forward with the next phase of its fiber build.

"Ultimately, fiber is going to be the best future-proof answer, and radio for fixed wireless is always going to be best where you just can't build [fiber] effectively," says Udell about Consolidated's emphasis on fiber versus FWA. There are some mobile or temporary use cases where FWA is best, he says, but for the majority of customers, fiber is more cost-effective for Consolidated to deploy.

— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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