Verizon prepares competitive response to Altice’s FTTH plans

Verizon’s latest near-gigabit fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) Fios offering was clearly a response to Altice, which now is the dominant cable operator in the former Cablevision territories like New York City.

The telcos main mantra—“We’re not cable. We’re wired differently”—will soon face an even greater threat in New York as Altice moves forward with its own ambitious FTTH plan.

During the recent NAB Show, Dexter Goei told attendees that his company plans to bypass the fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) interim architecture that uses DOCSIS 3.1 to deliver gigabit speeds over existing hybrid fiber coax (HFC) that is connected to each home.

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"Fiber today remains the most robust, efficient and reliable technology,” Goei said. “For us, to invest in little steps to eventually get to all-fiber makes no sense."

Altice USA, which serves 4.6 million homes across 20 states, plans to begin its five-year FTTH U.S. rollout sometime in 2017.  

Earlier, Altice—which became the nation’s fourth-largest cable operator following its acquisitions of Suddenlink and Cablevision in 2016—said it will extend fiber deeper into its existing HFC network, leveraging “cost-cutting and proprietary technologies” developed in its European research facilities, Altice Labs. 

Verizon’s competitive pressure

Verizon may have a lead over Altice with its established Fios network markets, but it’s clear that the service provider is feeling a bit of competitive pressure from the French conglomerate.

The service provider reported it lost 13,000 net video subscribers, a trend it says is related to more customers changing viewing habits. However, the service provider only added Verizon added a net of 35,000 Fios internet connections. This was far lower than the 68,000 new Fios internet net customers and 21,000 new Fios video customers Verizon added in the fourth quarter.

“With a substantial fiber push from Altice, we are not sure we see this trend abating,” said Jennifer Fritzsche, senior analyst of wireless/wireline telecom services for Wells Fargo, in a research note. “Just this past week, Verizon unveiled pricing for a gigabit Fios offer—likely to get ahead of Altice’s expected offers.”

Google Fiber reignites

Interestingly, Verizon’s move comes at a time when Alphabet's upstart Google Fiber appears ready to reignite its build-out efforts. A number of reports emerged that the service provider will finally start offering service in Louisville, Kentucky.

While Google Fiber lacks the network and subscriber density of Verizon and cable MSOs, the service provider’s presence clearly drove a number of incumbents to build out large FTTH networks.

On the eve of reporting its first-quarter revenues, AT&T announced plans to bring its fiber network to parts of eight new metro areas, meaning AT&T plans to offer the service to customers across at least 75 major metros (PDF).

True to form, details on Google’s plans for the city were lacking. The service provider said only that it would focus on metro Louisville, and noted it would provide deployment specifies at a later date.

Google did post a page where residents can sign up for notifications about its progress.

Citing various sources close to the company, a TechRepublic article said that the FTTH provider could roll out service sometime this week. However, it appears that when Google Fiber does make its broadband service live, the provider will likely take a wireless broadband route.