AT&T continues to lead the lit business fiber buildings market

June 20, 2024
The service provider holds onto its top ranking on Vertical Systems Group’s fiber-lit building LEADERBOARD.

AT&T remains the top U.S. provider of business fiber, retaining its number one position on Vertical Systems Group’s 2023 U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings LEADERBOARD. 

While AT&T has fiber into many large business buildings, its fiber network could also be used to penetrate small—to medium-sized businesses further. The telco noted in its first quarter earnings call that it has relationships with nearly 2.5 million business customers today and has an opportunity to win more small—to medium-sized business customers.

Fellow telcos Verizon and Spectrum Enterprise retained second and third positions, respectively.

AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, Comcast Business, Lumen, Cox Business, Zayo, Crown Castle, Frontier, Brightspeed, Breezeline and Optimum.

These twelve retail and wholesale fiber providers qualify for this benchmark as of year-end 2023 with 15,000 or more on-net U.S. fiber-lit sites, including commercial buildings and data centers.

“The top companies stayed stable on the LEADERBOARD,” said Rosemary Cochran, principal of Vertical Systems Group.

Fiber-lit buildings rising

VSG noted a double-digit increase in 2023 for total U.S. fiber-lit commercial buildings and data centers.

Also, the base of commercial buildings with two or more fiber providers continues to increase.

One segment is that Cable providers significantly grew in net new fiber-lit commercial buildings during 2023.

Comcast Business reported first-quarter revenues increased due to increased revenue from small business customers. Higher average rates and increased revenue from medium-sized and enterprise customers drive this. Business Services Connectivity revenue grew 5% to $5.1 billion, up from $2.3 billion in the same period last year.

Likewise, Charter’s first quarter Spectrum Business enterprise revenue grew 3.8% year over year to $708 million, driven by 6.9% year over year enterprise PSU growth.

“The number of U.S. fiber-lit sites steadily expands across every commercial building size segment,” Cochran said.

M&A effects

Mergers and acquisitions were a factor in the 2023 fiber-lit building rankings.

There were some shifts as Comcast Business moved up to fourth position, displacing Lumen, which dipped to fifth overall. Lumen lost its share in this fiber segment due to its spinoff of assets to Brightspeed.

“Comcast moved up to the fourth position and Lumen moved down to five,” Cochran said. “That was predicated on the fact that Lumen has been spinning off fiber assets in the U.S. to Brightspeed,” Cochran said. “This impacted how fiber-lit buildings are in each of those companies.”

Cox Business drove another slight shift.

While Cox Business remained in the sixth position, it gained fiber share from its Segra and Unite Private Networks acquisitions, both previously cited in the Challenge Tier.

“Cox gained some share relative to the assets it acquired from Unite Private Networks and Segra,” Cochran said. “Previously, UPN and Segra were in the Challenge Tier, which is a threshold of up to 14,999 buildings with fiber.”

She added that Cox’s acquisition of UPN and Segra meant the Challenge Tier dropped to seven companies from nine companies, but Cox did not move up in the LEADERBOARD rankings.

Data center rising

Another critical factor in the growth of lit fiber buildings is the growth of data centers.

To meet the demands of AI and cloud, data center providers heavily rely on having fiber and power in their facilities.

Large hyperscaler data centers providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, Meta and Microsoft have this year's large hyperscale data center projects—all of which will require fiber facilities.

According to reports, AWS plans to invest $10 billion to build two data center complexes in Mississippi. Meanwhile, Meta plans to build an $800 million data center campus in Jeffersonville, Indiana. 

However, the fiber need is not just relegated to the large hyperscalers.

Emerging data center providers like DataNovaX, a Build-to-Suit (BTS) provider, noted that its planned Pioneer Park data center complex in Wichita Falls, Texas, boasts plenty of power and fiber options.

Pioneer Park features various network providers, including Zayo, AT&T, Indian Nations Fiber Optic (INFO), Syntrio, Spectrum, Vexus, Comcell, Consolidated Communications, Crown Castle, Dobson Fiber, Hilliary Communications, MetroNet Fiber, Texas Lone Star Network, Uniti Fiber and Windstream.

“We’re seeing with AI and security services that rely on fiber,” Cochran said. “The number of data centers is increasing, and you need diversity of connections and fiber capacity.”  

For related articles, visit the Business Topic Center.
For more information on high-speed transmission systems and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer’s Guide.
To stay abreast of fiber network deployments, subscribe to Lightwave’s Service Providers and Datacom/Data Center newsletters.


About the Author

Sean Buckley

Sean is responsible for establishing and executing the editorial strategies of Lightwave and Broadband Technology Report across their websites, email newsletters, events, and other information products.

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