TDS to drive FTTP services into 25% of its access line territories

TDS Telecom has set an aggressive timeline to deploy fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) services in its wireline territory, with plans to get to 25 percent of its access lines this year.

Jane McCahon, vice president, corporate relations for Telephone and Data Systems, told investors during the Citi 2015 Global Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference that its main priority for 2015 will be to expand the reach of its fiber and growing cable-based broadband business.

"We continued to work on our broadband strategy in our wireline business that involves deploying fiber as far as we can into our territories," McCahon said. "Right now, we think we can get to 25 percent of our access lines and with that we're rolling out our IPTV product TDS TV and we've been pleased with the take rates, the ARPU and the triple play penetration that it has brought us."

McCahon added that TDS Telecom plans to continue to "push ARPU and higher speeds because it is about the broadband play."

TDS Telecom said in December that it plans to expand its fiber network by laying 800-900 miles of cable in 2015, a build that will support its ongoing 1 Gbps data services.

This follows what was an aggressive year of building out fiber for the telco. In 2014, TDS Telecom laid about 900 miles of new fiber and is leveraging existing fiber where previously deployed to serve as a backbone and extension to deliver 1 Gbps services to more communities in its footprint.

Initially, TDS Telecom will focus on bringing 1 Gbps service to both a mix of new markets like Hollis, N.H., while upgrading existing FTTP markets like Mt. Juliet and La Vergne, Tenn. Today, the telco offers services in various cities and towns in four states: Georgia, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Unlike its larger telco brethren AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), TDS has focused its attention on serving Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets in these states with FTTP service.

Along with FTTP, the service provider service provider has been aggressive on establishing itself as a regional cable operator, snapping up BendBroadband in May and earlier Baja Broadband in late 2013.

Both of these acquisitions enabled TDS Telecom to immediately expand not only its broadband and video reach, but also its managed services capabilities for business customers.

McCahon said that the company sees more opportunities to acquire more regional cable operators to further bolster its wireline broadband business.

"We completed the acquisition of BendBroadband this year and have pretty much finished the integration of that and we will look to find suitable cable acquisitions that are about the size of what Baja was," McCahon said. "We'd like to add one of those a year going forward if we can find them at the right price and what they help us do is leverage the telecom infrastructure and expertise we bought."

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