Lumen eyes multi-gig broadband with XGS-PON rollout

Lumen Technologies isn’t looking to be a laggard as it ups its presence in the residential fiber market, with the company’s President of Mass Markets Maxine Moreau telling investors it is working to develop a multi-gig offer for Quantum Fiber customers.

Speaking during Deutsche Bank’s Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, Moreau noted the operator began deploying XGS-PON technology late last year. This sets the stage for it to offer multi-gigabit capabilities over its network.

Among other product development, markets and sales initiatives, Moreau said it is investing in creation of a multi-gig service. It is also undertaking software development work to enhance its all-digital customer platform and mobile app, and working to expand sales and distribution channels for its Quantum Fiber service.

Lumen previously laid out plans to expand Quantum Fiber to a total of 12 million locations over the coming years. Moreau said the future-proof nature of its network is one of the reasons Lumen is confident it can reach its goal of achieving 40% penetration in the markets it is targeting.

“We have a superior service. It's a symmetrical fiber connection that can offer gig services today and multi-gig in the future. Where we've deployed our instant activation services today, we achieved over 40% penetration within the first 12 months,” she said. “Overall, our penetration is right at 30%, which is double that of what our DSL penetration rates are on copper.”

A move to provide multi-gig services would allow Lumen to keep up with other major fiber players which have done the same. AT&T and Ziply Fiber both already offer 2-gig and 5-gig service tiers, while Verizon and Frontier Communications provide a 2-gig option.

Until now, Moreau said Lumen’s fiber investments have been primarily in aerial infrastructure, which allowed it to deploy at costs significantly lower than its $1,000 per location target. But she noted “as we expand our enablement and go more dense within a market, we're going to have a higher mix of buried construction” which is typically more expensive than aerial.

Even so, it still believes it can complete these rollouts cost effectively in its chosen markets because “of how dense we plan to go and the economies of scale that we will get by doing that.”

Lumen CEO Jeff Storey said previously it expects to ramp fiber rollouts from its historical pace of around 400,000 locations per year to one million in 2022 and 1.5 million to 2 million each year after that.