Lumos poaches Ziply exec to lead massive fiber expansion as CEO

Regional broadband provider Lumos appointed Brian Stading as its new CEO, hiring Ziply Fiber’s former COO to oversee an ambitious fiber growth plan that calls for quadrupling its number of route miles by 2026. Alongside the executive appointment, the operator announced its NorthState and Lumos Networks brands will unite under a single brand as Lumos.

For its part, Ziply appears to have already replaced Stading with Chris Denzin as its new COO. Denzin has been with Ziply as a general manager since mid-2020. Before that, he spent nearly 26 years at Centurylink, working his way up from roles like Director of Sales to VP of Region Operations and VP of Sales Marketing.

In an email interview with Fierce, Stading noted his experience overseeing the operational and financial elements of Ziply’s business Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana “was instrumental in preparing me for the work ahead with Lumos.”

“I come to Lumos ready to bring growth, strategy and success – but most importantly, ready to deliver 100% Fiber Internet to new communities where fiber previously didn’t exist. My goal is to build an internet infrastructure that is maintainable for generations to come,” he said.

Lumos currently provides broadband in two states, North Carolina and Virginia, with the former previously served under the NorthState name and the latter by Lumos Networks. In recent years, the company has been working to upgrade its ILEC assets in those states to fiber, with backing from private equity owner EQT.

All told, it currently has around 200,000 passings and 5,000 route miles of fiber. Under Stading’s leadership, however, it is looking to grow those numbers to nearly 20,000 route miles and over 1 million passings by 2026. Stading said its initial goal is to overbuild its entire legacy ILEC footprint with fiber, a target it expects to hit in early 2023.

Stading told Fierce its subsequent growth will see it expand both within North Carolina and Virginia and into new communities elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region. “Our focus is on communities that are not currently serviced with a fiber network and that are efficient extensions of our existing network,” he said.

The operator currently believes it can reach its 1 million passings goal without the use of grants. Still, Stading said it does “plan to leverage grants and public private partnerships to add additional scale to our markets for areas that are grant-eligible.”

However, Lumos isn’t the only one plotting a massive fiber rollout in North Carolina and the mid-Atlantic. Brightspeed, which will be comprised of Lumen’s ILEC assets in 20 states following the close of a purchase deal later this year, in June announced plans to deploy fiber to 300,000 new passings by the end of 2023 and a total of 500,000 over the following years. It is also targeting 60,000 new fiber passings in Virginia by end-2023 and a total of 130,000 over the next five years as part of its plan.

Shenandoah Telecommunications (Shentel) is also expanding its Glo Fiber offering across Virginia, with planned builds in Rockingham, Suffolk and York Counties, among others. Its fiber offer is already available in several Virginia cities, including Winchester, Front Royal, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Roanoke, Salem, and Lynchburg.

Meanwhile, Ting Internet has been growing its fiber footprint in Virginia and North Carolina, covering Alexandria and Charlottesville in the former and Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Rolesville and Wake Forest in the latter.