Lumos targets 110K new passings in 2023, with builds in NC, SC

East Coast internet service provider Lumos announced two new expansion projects in the last two weeks, aiming to bring a total of more than 1,300 miles of fresh fiber to North and South Carolina. CEO Brian Stading said the news means Lumos now has planned builds or existing assets covering more than half of the 1 million passings it is targeting over the next four years.

The newly unveiled projects include a $56 million build in the area of Wilmington, North Carolina and a $60 million undertaking in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. The latter adds to a $100 million project in Columbia, South Carolina that Lumos announced in January.

In Spartanburg County, it plans to reach the towns of Cowpens, Duncan, Lyman, Greer and Wellford, while the work in North Carolina will connect Wilmington, Carolina Beach, Ogden, Myrtle Grove, Castle Hayne and Wrightsboro.

Lumos had around 200,000 fiber passings as of January. Once the newly announced builds – and grant funded projects in Virginia and North Carolina it recently secured – are completed, Stading said Lumos will have more than 550,000 passings.

In terms of how quickly it expects that work to be done, Stading said has already started engineering work in Columbia and will begin construction sometime this year. Engineering work in Spartanburg is also expected to begin soon, with the same kicking off in Wilmington in mid-2023, he said.

All told, Lumos is looking to reach more than 110,000 new passings this year – an increase from the 80,000 it targeted in 2022 – and even more in 2024.

It is also eyeing additional expansion markets across an 11-state zone which covers the mid-Atlantic region and adjacent states.

“The primary driver of where we’re going to go is where we have what I would say are favorable regulatory conditions, where the municipality wants us there, they’re excited for us to be there, they’re willing to work with us on permitting, on licensing,” he said. “The cost to build and being able to pass a meaningful number of households is important. But if you don’t have a community that is excited for us to be there – that’s where we really start.”

Like its larger counterparts, Lumos is aiming to achieve 40% penetration in the markets it serves within two years. And thus far, Stading said it’s on track to reach its goal with its recently built markets.

He said 1 Gbps is Lumos’ most in-demand speed tier, though it also offers 2 Gbps and 5 Gbps in addition to 500 Mbps and 200 Mbps options. It doesn’t advertise the 5-gig tier but can and has rolled it out for customers who have asked. The reason it doesn’t promote the 5-gig offering, Stading said, is that it requires giving a new router to customers, whereas the 2-gig offering can use the same router as its 1-gig service.