Altice USA's FTTP rollout eclipses 1M homes passed

Altice USA's fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network upgrade has hit a milestone in its Optimum footprint in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, as the operator eclipsed 1 million fiber homes passed at the end of Q1 2021.

(Source: Altice USA)  
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(Source: Altice USA)
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Altice USA now has FTTP available to about 20% of its Optimum footprint. The company is on track to pass 500,000 more homes with FTTP in 2021, putting it in-line with 2019 levels before the pandemic slowed the permitting process in 2020, Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei said on today's earnings call.

Some 43% of gross broadband subscriber additions in 1-Gig areas took that top speed tier in Q1, up from just 13% a year ago. Meanwhile, more than 50% of Altice USA's total base still takes downstream speed tiers of 200 Mbit/s or lower, meaning there's ample opportunity for upselling, Goei said.

With DOCSIS 3.1 deployments on hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks included, Altice USA has 1-Gig speeds available to about 92% of a consolidated footprint comprised of the Optimum areas in the northeast and Suddenlink's more rural areas. Meanwhile, 1-Gig service penetration levels reached 9.8% in Q1 2020, up from 2.4% in the year-ago quarter, the company said.

Among other broadband service tidbits, Altice USA saw monthly data usage among broadband-only customers hit 613 gigabytes, 26% higher than the average monthly usage of its full broadband customer base.

Still not sweating fixed wireless

Goei still doesn't view fixed wireless as a big threat to the company, whether it involves Altice USA's urban or rural markets.

"As we look at the more rural areas where we have 1-Gig available throughout Suddenlink, its's difficult to see how the economics work to try to put a less-performing product in place at attractive numbers in order to get penetration," he said. "We're not seeing any noise in our footprint at all from potentially fixed wireless substitutions."

For the quarter, Altice USA added 12,000 residential broadband customers. It also lost another 54,000 residential video subs due to the continued slowing of attach rates. Altice Mobile added 5,000 lines in Q1 2021, extending its total to 174,000, or roughly a 3.7% penetration of Altice USA's residential base.

Goei said he expects similar mobile line additions for Q2, but hinted that Altice Mobile will attempt to accelerate growth rates in the fall in tandem with a planned boost in mobile-focused media and advertising spending.

Business services showed signs of improvement as overall segment revenues inched up 0.7% in the quarter, with a 2.4% increase for Lightpath's fiber-based business and an 0.2% increase for its small/midsized segment. Goei noted that Altice USA is starting to explore offerings focused on the tier 1 enterprise market, with more details to be shared in the coming months.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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