Brightspeed unveils 'innovation hub' as company seeks transformation

Brightspeed will set up shop in Kansas City, Missouri to recreate its network infrastructure and generate a test environment in a new facility called the Brightspeed Technology Advancement Center, or BTAC.

Simulating a real network environment will enable Brightspeed to work with hardware and software for voice, DSL, broadband fiber and Wi-Fi to improve customer experience and network efficiency, the company said in an announcement.

The newly launched BTAC will also bring Brightspeed employees and vendor partners together to develop, test and launch new products that reduce outages, lower repair times, address device and software bugs and reconfigure network deployments.

The BTAC contains equipment and infrastructure from Brightspeed partners including Calix, Cisco, Ribbon, Adtran, Nokia, RAD, Ciena, DZS, AXON Networks, Fujitsu, Viavi, Infinera, Corning, Codecom and Casa Systems. In addition to firmware and software trials, Brightspeed said the facility will serve as an “innovation hub” for ideation, process and design improvements, as well as automation and risk mitigation.

Brian Bond, Brightspeed chief of operations support and innovation, said working with vendor partners will give the company “the freedom to test cutting-edge technologies, create our own innovations and assess their effectiveness without disrupting the network or our customers’ services.”

Brightspeed has emerged as a significant contender in the telecom landscape this year.

Just last month the company announced a slew of executive changes that will go into effect November 1. Namely, Chief Operating Officer Tom Maguire will become Brightspeed’s new CEO. Manny Sampedro, a veteran of Verizon, joined the company to replace Maguire as COO. And incumbent CEO Bob Mudge will transition into the role of executive chair of Brightspeed’s board of directors, where he will be responsible for the “strategic direction” of the company.

Mudge earlier this year had indicated the company is working fast to transform nearly every aspect of the assets that it purchased from Lumen Technologies in October 2022. Brightspeed is majority owned by the private equity firm Apollo, and bought ILEC assets in 20 states from Lumen Technologies for $7.5 billion.

The company claims its network platform is capable of serving more than 6.5 million homes and businesses. But the vast majority of Brightspeed’s acquired footprint is served with copper, and the company has set a goal to pass 3 million homes and businesses, as well as towers, with new fiber over the course of about 3.5 years. Those fiber projects have caught the eye of Abu Dhabi private equity firm Mubadala, which in May announced plans to invest $500 million into the operator.

Being a private equity company means it can work much faster to completely overhaul its business than Lumen was ever able to do as a legacy telco with a dividend burden.