Altice USA CEO says its quest for broadband grants is gaining steam

Outgoing Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei revealed the operator has already secured tens of millions in broadband grant awards this year, as it pursues as much as $1 billion in government funding to boost its fiber expansion plan.

Speaking during an investor conference this week, Goei indicated it has received around $50 million so far this year to help it reach between 40,000 and 45,000 locations. He added it continues to apply for grants “every week” and is hoping to score additional funding over the next 12 to 24 months to help it cover “a couple hundred thousand more” locations.

The operator’s wins thus far include a $6 million Arizona Broadband Development Grant to cover 7,000 locations in La Paz and Coconino counties; a $6 million grant from the state of West Virginia to cover more than 9,000 locations there; and a $4 million award to cover around 1,500 locations in North Carolina. It also scored $15 million from Louisiana’s Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) program to serve more than 9,000 locations and a $12.6 million from Arizona’s Yavapai County to reach around 8,000 locations.

According to Fierce's count, Altice's current grant tally stands at $43.6 million to cover approximately 48,000 locations. It is possible Goei misspoke and mixed up the two figures, since a statement specifying $40 to $45 million in grants and 50,000 locations would have been more accurate.

Last year, Goei said Altice USA would apply for as much as $1 billion in subsidies.

The company’s wins come as operators engage in a fierce battle for broadband grant money, with Windstream, Charter Communications and Comcast currently leading the pack. They also come as Altice USA looks to ramp an ongoing fiber overbuild of its cable footprint.

During the conference, Goei noted Altice ended 2021 with around 1.2 million fiber passings and is on track to reach at least a million more locations by the end of 2021, with 1.2 million locations its “stretch target.” The operator added approximately 270,000 new passings in Q2, a record Goei said it plans to beat in Q3 and Q4.

In 2024, it’s looking to ramp rollouts to reach 1.6 to 1.8 million new passings.

CEO transition

Earlier this month, Altice USA announced a new CEO is set to take the reins in October as Goei transitions to a new role as Executive Chairman of the Board. Goei said he notified the board about a year ago of his family’s desire to more back to Europe, adding the search for a new CEO began about six months ago.

The executive said his new role will focus on taking care of “external stuff, so a lot of strategic stuff” as well as government affairs and investor relations so that new CEO Dennis Mathew can focus on internal operations.

“There’s been discussions around us being [involved] in strategic activity, so I’m going to be very focused on that. There’s lots of other things we’re working on, small and big,” Goei said. Eventually these responsibilities will be transferred to Mathew’s plate, but “I’m around for a year and a half,” he concluded.