As Cincinnati Bell moves forward with its fiber expansion efforts today in Cincinnati and in Hawaii when it completes its pending acquisition of Hawaiian Telcom, the service provider plans to increase penetration not only in new areas but also where it has existing copper.
Within Cincinnati, the service provider has passed over 565,000 locations with fiber. On a year-to-date basis as of the end of the third quarter, the telco has passed 31,300 new addresses with Fioptics and said it's on track to reach 35,000 new addresses for the year.
Out of that figure, 80% have FTTH and the remaining are connected via a fiber-to-the-node (FTTN)-based VDSL2 or ADSL2+ service.
Andy Kaiser, CFO of Cincinnati Bell, told investors during the UBS 45th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference that a large percentage of its footprint is currently connected to fiber-based broadband.
“In all we have 70% of our market covered with some form of fiber,” Kaiser said.
Over in Oahu, which is Hawaiian Telcom’s largest market, the service provider currently has 65% of its market covered with fiber.
“Oahu is where most of the individuals in Hawaii reside,” Kaiser said. “Hawaiian Telcom is more skewed towards fiber-to-the-node, and they’re roughly 60% FTTH and 40% fiber-to-the-node.”
Cincinnati Bell has previously set a high bar to build out fiber to 80% to 90% of its footprint in Cincinnati over the next three years. Kaiser said that a portion of its build in Cincinnati will include converting customers from FTTN to FTTH.
“What we intend to do in Cincinnati is build to closer to 80% to 90%, which will include going back where we have VDSL2 and overbuilding to bring fiber to the premises,” Kaiser said.
Kaiser added that it will take a similar approach in Hawaii.
“In Hawaii, we intend to push closer to 80-plus percent coverage of fiber,” Kaiser said.
Penetration rates rising
By all accounts, Cincinnati Bell’s FTTH penetration rates continue to rise. During the third quarter, the service provider added another 7,000 Fioptics subscribers, ending the period with a total of 221,200 Fioptics customers. However, its copper-based DSL broadband base dropped to 86,700 customers.
“It’s absolutely accelerating,” Kaiser said. “We’re definitely seeing a shift in penetration on the HSI front.”
Given that the FTTH network allows Cincinnati Bell to deliver speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 1 Gbps, churn rates are very minimal on broadband service.
“Churn rates for single family units are very low at 1%,” Kaiser said. “From a churn perspective, it’s our best performing product.”