Frontier's McCarthy: Micro-trenching, directional boring are lowering FTTH build costs

Frontier isn't planning on a large expansion of its FTTH network in the areas it entered via its latest Verizon (NYSE: VZ) wireline facility acquisition, but a host of fiber installation innovations will help it retain costs.

CEO Dan McCarthy told investors attending the recent Bernstein 32nd Annual Strategic Decisions Conference that using micro-trenching and directional boring allows Frontier to accelerate deployments in Greenfield fiber builds where developers are building new homes.

"In Florida, for instance, subdivision growth is very robust right now and housing construction continues very nicely," McCarthy said. "It offers an interesting opportunity because we have the best network, the best product and it is about using the best generation of micro-trenching or doing directional boring to provide the lowest cost to whoever is developing the subdivision."

However, McCarthy said that Frontier has no immediate plans to extend FTTH services into new cities in the areas it entered into by acquiring Verizon's wireline facilities.

"I don't think you'll see us, in a wholesale way, look at a new city in one of these new locations," McCarthy said. "We'll look at that on a case by case basis, but there are no plans for that."

Regardless, the advent of micro-trenching and finding ways to use aerial utility poles are helping Frontier, other telcos and new entrants like Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) keep installation costs in check for FTTH builds.

"Micro-trenching and both underground technologies as well as finding different ways to use overhead technology have driven down the costs of FTTH roll outs," McCarthy said. "By using overhead technology you don't get the benefits necessarily of the protection of having plant underground from storms and people barreling into it with their cars, but it provides a very low-cost to latching fiber to existing facilities and moving forward."

McCarthy added that the service provider will evaluate where each of these methods fit into a particular deployment in its legacy or new markets.

"We're using a combination of all of these methods as we look at fiber deployment, whether that's in Connecticut, whether it's in these three states, or anywhere around the country," McCarthy said. "It has brought costs down."

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