“Building a Fiber-Connected World” is the tagline of Broadband Communities magazine, and each year the Fiber-To-The-Home Top 100 list recognizes organizations that lead the way in this endeavor.
Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployment in the U.S. is beginning to outpace legacy copper broadband, a trend impacting service providers and their vendor suppliers.
RVA LLC’s 2021 North American FTTH forecast predicts U.S. FTTH investment of more than $60 billion in the next five years. A large portion will be used to make fiber available to new homes for the first time, but some will be allocated to create fiber competition for homes that already have a fiber provider.
RVA said this latest FTTH investment cycle is driven by several factors: providing the best consumer user experience versus other broadband delivery methods such as cable coax, telecom DSL, wireless or satellite in terms of reliability; speed (upstream and downstream); and latency. For service providers, FTTH has the advantage of lowering operational costs and decreasing churn.
Service providers of all sizes are taking advantage of the FTTH opportunity, going all in. The three largest telcos – AT&T, Verizon and Quantum Fiber (formerly CenturyLink) – are expanding their FTTH footprints.
AT&T aims to more than double its fiber footprint in the coming years to reach 30 million customer locations by the end of 2025. Quantum Fiber exited the first quarter with about 2.5 million homes enabled with fiber and 715,000 broadband customers on fiber.
Smaller telcos, such as Consolidated Communications, Lumos Networks/NorthState and Smithville, are no less aggressive with FTTH. After securing a $425 million investment from Searchlight Capital Partners, Consolidated is enhancing its fiber infrastructure. It also has been actively pursuing public-private partnerships with several towns in Maine and New Hampshire to build out FTTH services. Lumos Networks/NorthState, which leverages the financial backing of its parent, EQT, set a goal to connect thousands of new homes and businesses. Meanwhile, Smithville is expanding FTTH organically and has struck partnerships with various electric cooperatives, including the Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC (UDWI) and SCI REMC, an Indiana rural electric cooperative.
Outside the domain of incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs), cable operators and competitors also are making progress. Cable multiple-system operator Altice USA has a plan to extend fiber to 500,000 homes this year. Meanwhile, Charter Communications, one of the big winners in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction, will bring FTTH to rural communities.
As more providers expand their FTTH footprints, they are adopting XGS-PON, a technology to offer symmetrical 10 Gbps FTTH services. Research firm Dell’Oro Group noted that total global revenue for the broadband access equipment market rose $3.3 billion in the first quarter of 2021, up 18 percent year-over-year. Growth came from spending on PON OLT ports, particularly 10 Gbps PON technologies.
Industry research firm Broadband Trends reports that in addition to offering symmetrical services, service providers can offer an array of business/enterprise services and provide connectivity for key applications, such as remote education, telehealth and teleworking. What’s more, 10G symmetrical fiber networks can be used for mobile backhaul/fronthaul and the aggregation of remote access node traffic in support of accelerating 5G mobile service deployments.
It’s no wonder the industry is expanding and the number of companies competing for the Top 100 slots continues to grow. That’s great for the country, even if it makes life difficult for the editors who assemble this list.
The 2021 FTTH Top 100 list represents the whole fiber-to-the-home ecosystem. Optical fiber and fiber cables; passive equipment for connecting, protecting and managing fiber; and active equipment for sending and receiving signals over fiber are the most basic components of an FTTH network, along with software for planning, setting up and managing networks and for provisioning and billing fiber services. The list contains many companies that design, manufacture and distribute these essential products.
To put these pieces together requires firms that finance, plan, design, engineer, construct and install fiber optic networks, as well as those that make equipment for digging, pushing, pulling and attaching fiber. These, too, are represented on the list. Also included are several organizations that advocate for better broadband.
Finally, there would not be any fiber to the home if not for the deployers – large and small, private and public, incumbent and competitive – that invest in FTTH networks.
Companies newly added or reinstated to the list represent a variety of ecosystem niches.
Two of the new entrants, Greenlight Networks and LUS Fiber, are emerging regional FTTH competitive players. Founded in 2011, Greenlight Networks began offering 1 Gbps FTTH internet service in 2012 in the Rochester area of New York state. After the company was purchased by local billionaire businessman and philanthropist Tom Golisano in 2018, Greenlight began to rapidly expand across the west side of the Genesee River market and expand its workforce.
Like other regional electric utilities, Lafayette Utilities System (LUS, the municipally owned utilities company in Lafayette, Louisiana) chose to upgrade the outdated microwave system for connecting its substations with fiber. Later, LUS Fiber became one of the first municipally owned companies to provide FTTH services in the state of Louisiana, and one of the first municipally owned FTTH companies in the country. It offers broadband speeds ranging from 3 Mbps to 10 Gbps and phone and video services.
Rejoining the list this year is DZS. Formerly known as DASAN-Zhone, DZS is repositioning its presence in the U.S. After naming telecom veteran Charlie Vogt as CEO, DZS has been expanding its broadband and optical portfolio via acquisitions of other vendors, such as Optelian.
Besides the new entrants, a handful of companies either have changed names or were acquired. BHC Rhodes is now BHC. In September 2020, CenturyLink rebranded under three separate entities: Lumen Technologies, CenturyLink and Quantum Fiber. (CenturyLink is the legacy telecom business and Quantum Fiber delivers fiber internet to residents and small businesses. Lumen will provide enterprise business services.) Meanwhile, the law firm Baller, Stokes & Lide became Keller and Heckman and OSPInsight was folded into the geospatial software company IQGeo following acquisitions.
In selecting the FTTH Top 100, the editors looked for organizations that advance the cause of fiber-based broadband by
- Deploying networks that are large or ambitious, have innovative business plans, or are intended to transform local economies or improve communities’ quality of life
- Supplying key hardware, software or services to deployers
- Introducing innovative technologies with game-changing potential, even if they have not yet been commercially deployed
- Providing key conditions for fiber builds, such as advocacy or demand aggregation
To be listed among the FTTH Top 100, an organization may be based anywhere in the world but must do business in North America. Except for broadband service providers, which inherently are local, we give preference to organizations that serve national rather than local markets. Overall size is unimportant, as is corporate form – in addition to for-profit companies, the list includes municipalities, a telephone cooperative, an electric cooperative and a nonprofit research organization.
Although some organizations on the list focus entirely on fiber to the premises (FTTP) or other fiber-based broadband technologies, most deliver or support a mix of broadband technologies. For some, broadband represents only a small part of their business. In making these selections, the editors considered how important the organizations are to advancing fiber broadband rather than how important fiber broadband is to them.
The FTTH Top 100 list was researched by Marianne Cotter, Rachel Ellner and Kassandra Kania and overseen by editor-in-chief Sean Buckley. To nominate a company for next year’s FTTH Top 100, email [email protected]m.
Key Products: Web-based tools and services for mapping, network design and management
Summary: 3-GIS software and services provide anywhere, anytime access, geospatial data and mapping, visibility of network connections and logic, an adaptable data model, and enterprise data access through a configurable interface. Customers range from traditional private companies and municipal utilities to college campuses. 3-GIS recently began marketing its asset management solutions to successful bidders in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program.
Applications include 3-GIS | Web, a browser-based application that provides asset editing and connection management functionalities; 3-GIS | Mobile, an Android-based mobile application allowing users to put network data directly into the hands of work crews in the field, syncing with the server upon establishing internet connection; 3-GIS | Admin, a browser-based configuration console for web and mobile, allowing system administrators to create systems of rules and guidelines that define access and use of software; and Prospector, an extension tool for automating network planning and design.
The company also provides various support services, including design automation, data conversion and project management. 3-GIS | Augmented Design Services (ADS) provides a team of fiber network engineers, OSP engineers, project managers, GIS and database experts, and software developers to assist network planning and operations. The company’s offices are in Decatur, Alabama, and Tampa, Florida, with development, design services, product support and project management in Bern, Switzerland.
Key Products: Broadband engineering and consulting, construction management
Summary: Established in 1987, ACRS provides turnkey engineering and consulting to rural telcos, cable TV operators, wireless ISPs, competitive providers, electric co-ops, municipalities, Native American tribes and large carriers across the U.S. Services include feasibility studies, financing acquisition, regulatory consulting (FCC licensing, CLEC and ETC filings and state corporation commission filings and testimony), detailed engineering, construction management and acceptance testing. ACRS has extensive experience in acquiring RUS broadband loans and grants and competitive Connect America Fund awards for its clients, including four grants in late 2019. The grants, totaling $10 million, will help fund various FTTH and wireless broadband projects in Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia.
ACRS engineered the first full-motion, distance learning network in the U.S. and the first FTTH system in Oklahoma. Recent projects include several FTTH networks for electric co-ops, including Northeast Rural Services (Bolt Fiber Optic) and Valley Electric Association, a winner of a Broadband Communities Cornerstone Award. ACRS is headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and has about 50 employees.
Adams Telephone Co-Operative / CheckPoint Solutions
Key Products: Consulting services for FTTH deployers, including opportunity assessment software, support and systems automation
Summary: Adams Telephone Co-Operative, a member-owned telco in Illinois, has deployed fiber for more than a decade. All the premises in its traditional service area have access to fiber broadband, making it 100 percent FTTH, and its Adams Fiber subsidiary continues to build out fiber as a competitive provider in nearby towns. With almost 2,900 miles of fiber deployed and a set of well-developed processes and in-house software tools for deployment, Adams now serves 30 communities with FTTH, focusing on places where there was previously little or no coverage.
In June 2020, Adams Fiber was awarded more than $4.9 million from the Connect Illinois Broadband Grant Program. This grant will cover roughly 50 percent of a $10 million total expansion project Adams has committed to in underserved local communities in Adams and Brown Counties. This broadband access deployment, which was slated to begin in Spring of 2021, will serve about 1,106 households, businesses, farms and anchor institutions in rural areas east of Quincy. The rural communities of Columbus, Payson, Richfield, Kingston, Liberty, Timewell and Adams will all benefit from this broadband access build. Burton will also benefit.
Adams now applies its experience and customer service spirit to help other rural providers plan and build their own FTTH networks. The company formed a new subsidiary, CheckPoint Solutions, in 2016, to share its expertise with other small companies that wanted to build FTTH in underserved communities and guide them through a software-developed automation process from beginning to end. CheckPoint Solutions counts several other independent companies as clients, such as Loretto Telecom and Green Hills Communications, and has been responsible for helping telcos and utility companies from coast to coast successfully build thousands of fiberhoods across the U.S. at more than 2.8 million service addresses. CheckPoint Solutions transitions raw data to actionable intelligence, fueling efficiency through automation, growth through demand generation and employee empowerment, and expansion through strategic direction and faster ROI. The CheckPoint Solutions platform is specifically designed to meet the needs of broadband providers deploying next-generation services. From the initial planning, through designing, building, selling, managing and driving growth, CheckPoint serves as a single point of operational coordination. Adams Telephone Co-Operative, founded in 1952 and based in Golden, Illinois, has 115 employees.
Key Products: FTTH, FTTN and FTTdp solutions; software-defined access; subscriber experience; network modernization and management; system integration
Summary: ADTRAN is a global supplier of next-generation broadband access solutions for residential, enterprise and mobile services markets served by cable MSOs, telecom service providers, municipalities, utilities and electric co-ops. The ADTRAN Total Access 5000 multiservice platform is a widely deployed solution supporting thousands of gigabit communities in North America. In addition, ADTRAN’s next-generation 10 Gbps FTTH technologies allow operators to double the lives of their fiber optic distribution networks while lowering operational expenses by supporting enterprise and residential customers on the same network. These solutions are complemented by a full suite of subscriber experience, network modernization and system integration services and a pool of next-generation alliance partners.
ADTRAN has bolstered its FTTH and 10G presence with ILEC and electric cooperative customers. Lumos Networks is leveraging ADTRAN’s 10G fiber access portfolio to deploy 10G fiber services for small-business customers. United Cooperative Services (UCS) selected ADTRAN to deliver multi-gigabit services to the electric cooperative’s membership in 14 counties across North Texas. In the U.K., Openreach will use ADTRAN’s SDX Series of OLTs and Mosaic Cloud Platform to make gigabit and multi-gigabit services available to 20 million homes by the mid-to-late 2020s with its Full Fibre network. ADTRAN expanded its 10G PON portfolio with several new ONTs and launched a managed, cloud-based, CAF performance test. In February, ADTRAN unveiled its Global Services Portfolio, which offers an ecosystem of turnkey network implementation and maintenance and professional, managed and cloud services. It also expanded its SDX series of open and disaggregated network elements and added support for Combo PON within the ADTRAN Total Access 5000 (TA5000) fiber access platform.
In 2020, ADTRAN addressed specific internet of things (IoT) scale challenges by offering IoT solutions that enable service providers, cloud providers and IoT sensor providers to better support the millions of sensors connecting to the access network, diversify their customer bases and generate new revenue opportunities. To support rural broadband, in March 2021 the company announced the ADTRAN Total Access 5004 (TA5004) Micro-Cabinet compact, modular, fiber-access platform, a 10G fiber-access platform purpose-built for serving ultra-low-density environments to expedite rural gigabit coverage. In April, ADTRAN introduced the IoT Gateway, a new LoRaWAN gateway that will enable providers, operators, VARs and solution integrators to support growing enterprise IoT initiatives. Based in Huntsville, Alabama, ADTRAN has 1,790 employees and reported revenue of $506 million in 2020.
“When I started Hotwire more than 20 years ago, I knew that bandwidth was going to be the predominant product going forward. Fiber has proven itself to be the best, most reliable way to achieve high-bandwidth broadband internet, with the ability to scale the gigabits per second a customer receives at a moment’s notice, making it vital for everything from high-capacity stadiums to integrated, smart-city government services.
– Kristin Johnson, CEO and president, Hotwire
Key Products: Engineering and consulting services
Summary: Advantage Engineers enables the future of telecommunications by deploying innovative solutions to solve complex engineering challenges. More than 300 full-time professionals work in 18 locations with in-house professional engineers licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. From cable-route design to more advanced network engineering, the team at Advantage Engineers provides the support required for planning, designing, permitting, documenting, installing, testing and managing clients’ fiber optic network deployments. The company delivers a broad range of fiber solutions, including FTTH, FTTP, FTTT, middle-mile, long-haul and relocations. To date, Advantage Engineers has designed more than 6,500 miles of fiber. The team recently completed a 150-mile mapping project for Baltimore County, Maryland, where it located and recorded existing fiber facilities with survey-grade GPS equipment to better serve community institutions. In April 2021, Advantage Engineers was acquired by – and became an operating company of – Network Connex, further expanding the company’s footprint and capabilities.
Key Products: Fiber optic cable and connectivity, outside-plant fiber and electrical conductor hardware, fusion splicers, test and inspection equipment, training, design, engineering, integration
Summary: AFL’s converged access network solution helps customers build expandable, flexible, accessible networks for 5G wireless fronthaul/backhaul, FTTH/business, multiple dwelling units/multiple tenant units (MXU), campuses and venues, enterprises and central offices. The company’s product offering includes wrapping tube cable powered by SpiderWeb Ribbon (SWR), the ASCEND high-density platform, splice closures such as Apex, Fujikura fusion splicers, test equipment and more. AFL has service and engineering expertise to help customers plan, design, build and maintain communications networks, offering FTTx and MDU solutions for master-planned community networks serviced by telephone, cable TV and wireless providers; utilities/electric cooperatives; and industrial companies and enterprises. AFL connects customers’ unique project requirements with technologically advanced product and service solutions.
The company continues to build on its core innovation strategy. Over the past quarter, AFL was awarded five new patents for technology and developments in connectivity and fiber optic cable. Founded in 1984, AFL is headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and is a division of Fujikura Ltd. The company has more than 4,500 associates around the world and operates in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Key Product: Cloud-based VoIP platform
Summary: Early fiber-to-the-home deployers were mainly telephone companies, but many new FTTH entrants have no history of providing voice services. For a broadband operator without telephone equipment or expertise, using a cloud-based system is the simplest, most economical way to add a voice offering – typically a high-margin service. Alianza’s Cloud Communications Platform, a web-scale VoIP software-as-a-service solution built for broadband providers, delivers and supports residential and business VoIP services. The platform does not require capital expenditure or equipment installation, and Alianza alleviates most operational and regulatory burdens associated with phone services. Since announcing a solution specifically for FTTH providers in February 2017, Alianza has made inroads with electric cooperatives, utilities and municipalities that deliver FTTH broadband to their communities. More than 70 ISPs, with more than 300,000 subscribers, use the Alianza platform.
In fall 2019, Alianza announced several new customer acquisitions, including Cumberland Connect in Tennessee and ecoLink in Oklahoma. Pennsylvania ISP PenTeleData launched a suite of cloud-based voice services for business customers powered by Alianza’s Cloud Communications Platform. In fall 2020, Alianza integrated with NISC’s IVUE Connect platform. It provides a complete suite of broadband billing, customer management and provisioning solutions for electric cooperatives and supports the needs of contemporary utilities. Alianza’s Cloud Communications Platform provides a turnkey VoIP solution that enables broadband providers to deliver a feature-rich, easy-to-manage portfolio of residential and business communication services.
To enhance its cloud platform with video conferencing and mobile applications, Alianza acquired CounterPath. In May, the company launched Business Cloud Communications for service providers, incorporating the CounterPath features into a single solution quickly launched by Horizon Telcom to expand its offering to business customers. Founded in 2009 and with new headquarters in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Alianza has more than 100 employees.
Key Products: Internet access, Metro Ethernet, phone, TV and video services
Summary: Founded in 2003, ALLO Communications, based in Imperial, Nebraska, has built fiber broadband networks throughout Nebraska as a competitive provider. ALLO has a broad vision of fiber as a transformational technology and builds its fiber networks citywide rather than in selected neighborhoods. It helps communities use their networks to expand business opportunities, create jobs and improve quality of life. ALLO provides services in 11 Nebraska communities and two communities in Colorado. Several current projects involve partnerships with city governments. Breckenridge, Colorado, selected ALLO as the service provider for its new fiber9600 infrastructure project, which began connecting homes in late 2019. In Lincoln, Nebraska, ALLO leased city conduits, extended the conduit system into residential neighborhoods and built fiber to the home. ALLO also is providing 77 nonprofit organizations in Lincoln 10 years of free internet service. In Fort Morgan, Colorado, ALLO leased the city-owned fiber network to deliver broadband services. In summer 2021, ALLO plans to bring internet to Fremont and Inglewood, Nebraska. In 2020, ALLO reported revenue of $76.6 million, up from $65.8 million in 2019.
“In the post-pandemic world, local governments are proving more willing to make needed broadband investments, whether alone or as part of partnerships, and state and federal governments are developing new programs to help fund these projects.”
– Christopher Mitchell, director, Community Broadband Networks, Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Key Products: Power supplies, surge suppressors, enclosures and batteries, installation and construction services
Summary: Founded in 1976, Alpha Technologies is a worldwide broadband power systems player. Alpha products provide power conditioning and emergency backup for video, data and voice networks. Alpha’s installation and construction services include structural engineering, rights of way and easement procurement, site preparation, equipment installation and system turnup and testing. Customers in 50 countries include major cable television system operators, telecommunications service providers and full-service communications providers. Alpha Technologies’ FTTH powering options include the FlexPoint line of 12V DC single-family solutions and the FlexNet line of 48V DC multiple-dwelling-unit and small office/home office power supplies. Alpha, with more than 1,000 employees, has sales and service centers in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Middle East, China and Australia. It is a member of the Alpha Group, which EnerSys acquired in 2019.
Key Products: Internet, video and voice services
Summary: Altice USA is one of the largest broadband and video providers in the U.S., delivering broadband, pay TV, voice, Wi-Fi hot spot access, proprietary content and advertising services through its Optimum and Suddenlink brands. Symmetrical 1 Gbps internet service over Altice’s new FTTH network is being rolled out to residential customers in select areas of Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut. Altice USA plans to expand gigabit broadband services via an accelerated fiber build and its whole-home, mesh-smart Wi-Fi service to 500,000 locations in 2021. This positions it to offer 10 Gbps speeds for residential and business customers next year. Altice USA is enhancing its existing hybrid fiber coax network in the Optimum service area and plans to launch 1 Gbps broadband service via DOCSIS 3.1. With less than 10 percent of the customer base taking gigabit speeds, the company has plenty of room to grow 1 Gbps and higher broadband speeds as demand dictates.
The cable MSO is also adding gigabit capacity in the Suddenlink service area and expanding the Altice footprint through new-home builds. In February, it gave Optimum and Suddenlink customers access to smart Wi-Fi and brought Altice One entertainment to Apple TV. Recently, Altice acquired Morris Broadband in western North Carolina, which provides service to 36,500 residential and business customers. Headquartered in Long Island City, New York, Altice USA serves 5 million customers across 21 states and posted 9.9 billion in 2020 revenue, up from $9.76 billion 2019.
Key Products: Fiber distribution solutions, fiber optic enclosures
Summary: Amphenol is one of the world’s largest providers of high-technology interconnect, sensor and antenna solutions. Its products enable the electronics revolution across a diverse array of end markets, including automotive, broadband communications, commercial aerospace, industrial, information technology and data communications, military, mobile devices and mobile networks. Founded in 1932, Amphenol trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker APH and had sales of $8.6 billion in 2020. In 2019, Amphenol acquired Charles Industries, a manufacturer of integrated environmental housings and enclosures for wireless, telecom and broadband service providers. The company is headquartered in Wallingford, Connecticut, and has more than 80,000 employees worldwide.
AT&T Fiber / AT&T Connected Communities
Key Products: High-speed internet, next-generation TV, voice, advanced mobile services
Summary: AT&T is the largest FTTH provider in the U.S. As part of its agreement with the FCC to purchase DirectTV, AT&T was required to deliver FTTH to 12.5 million homes, a goal the company surpassed by serving 14 million homes. Today, AT&T markets FTTH services to 15 million locations in 90 metropolitan areas. AT&T Fiber gained about 1 million subscribers over the past year, bringing the total subscriber base to about 5.2 million. After the telco announced plans to spin off its WarnerMedia unit and combine it with Discovery in a $43 billion deal, AT&T CEO John Stankey said it will have more “flexibility to invest in 5G and fiber to support the growing long-term demand for reliable high-speed connectivity.”
In 2021, AT&T plans to increase its fiber footprint by an additional 3 million customer locations across more than 90 metro areas, raising its deployment to about 18 million homes and businesses by 2025. Most of the 90 metro area locations where it plans to roll out FTTH already have AT&T fiber access. Looking forward, AT&T plans to more than double its fiber footprint in the coming years to reach 30 million customer locations by the end of 2025.
The telco is an active participant in two Open Networking Foundation broadband virtualization projects: Virtual OLT Hardware Abstraction (VOLTHA) and SDN-Enabled Broadband Access (SEBA). Through AT&T Connected Communities, the telco works with multifamily and single-family builders, developers, management groups and homeowners associations to provide communications and entertainment services. As the largest U.S. provider of pay TV, AT&T offers video entertainment through its AT&T TV platform, which it launched in March 2020. AT&T TV is the telco’s main national pay television service, positioned to succeed U-verse TV and satellite service DirecTV. (Although AT&T will support existing customers, it no longer sells U-verse TV.) In May 2020, AT&T launched HBO Max, a new streaming service with content from HBO, CNN, TNT, TBS and TCM. By the end of 2020, HBO and HBO Max combined had 41.5 million subscribers, up from 34.6 in 2019. AT&T revenue for 2020 was $171.8 billion, down from $181 billion in 2019, and the company has 230,000 employees.
Atlantic Engineering Group
Key Products: Turnkey outside-plant services for FTTH networks
Summary: Atlantic Engineering Group (AEG), founded by James Salter in 1996, focuses exclusively on the design and construction of fiber networks for long-haul, middle-mile, last-mile and in-building applications. The company helps lead the drive to combine FTTH and smart-grid technologies into a single business plan for municipalities, rural electric cooperatives and new entrants into the FTTH arena.
AEG is headquartered in Buford, Georgia, but deploys in-house personnel and on-site project managers globally. It performs project management, service planning, engineering, underground and aerial construction, splicing, testing and many other professional and technical services. It has completed or is currently working on design or build commissions for more than 130 networks, including 65 FTTH projects totaling more than 50,000 fiber route miles that pass more than 2.6 million homes in 29 states. Some of the most recent have been in Colorado, Tennessee, New York and Vermont.
Key Products: Planning, design and construction of FTTx projects
Summary: BHC (formerly BHC Rhodes) provides civil engineering services for public utilities and private firms that build and maintain fiber networks across the U.S. BHC has designed and managed thousands of miles of telecom network infrastructure for clients that range from small communities to large international service providers. The company’s FTTx services include feasibility studies, cost estimates and budgets; planning, layout and network architecture; GIS and AutoCAD mapping; hut site development and construction; outside-plant design; site and route surveys; pole surveys; right-of-way permitting and asset management. BHC performed design and related services for an FTTH network in Meridian, Idaho, resulting in 80,000 households passed. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, BHC was founded in 1992 and has more than 135 employees.
“The fiber broadband market in North America is exploding, boosted by a pandemic-proven need and more available grants and private funding. It will be a race to secure funding, competency and materials, which may lead to shortcuts. Fiber is a long-term investment and those who choose scalable, proven solutions will be the ones still around five years from now. It’s the responsibility of us in the vendor community to make sure the decisions made now will lead to high-quality networks and operations built to last.”
– Isak Finer, chief revenue officer, COS Systems
Key Products: Software and services for FTTx design automation, network planning, outside-plant engineering, mapping
Summary: Biarri Networks helps ISPs, utility service providers, telcos, engineering firms, and consultants to design and build fiber, fixed wireless, and mobile wireless networks. The company also launched the first ever web-based tool of its kind: Fiber Optic Network Design (FOND), a web-based optimization and collaboration platform for digital engineering, planning and design. The company continues to roll out new updates for FOND. For example, to help customers navigate the utility pole attachment process for FTTH networks, Biarri introduced pole and aerial span editing tools in FOND. Biarri’s team of experts also delivers designs and engineering outputs at speed and scale using the company’s patented algorithmic approach, combining technology, analytics, geospatial data and industry best practices.
In addition to FOND, Biarri offers custom-built design engines for enterprise clients, design services and consultancy services. In the U.S., the firm has 20 new and existing projects in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Last year, Biarri completed high-level designs for more than 10 new projects, passing 761,407 homes. More than two-thirds of those passings went on to become construction-ready “low-level” designs. By May of this year, Biarri had already delivered almost 2 million homes passed at feasibility-level design and had commenced 10 more projects that will be constructed in the future.
Biarri grew its team by more than 20 percent in the past year, increasing its workforce to more than 100 people globally. Rural broadband projects in Mexico and Canada, as well as in the U.S., helped fuel the growth. Biarri, now based in Denver, Colorado, has offices in Australia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Black & Veatch
Key Products: Consulting, engineering, construction, operations, program management
Summary: Black & Veatch, founded in 1915 and based in Overland Park, Kansas, is a global engineering, consulting and construction company that specializes in telecommunications, energy, water and government services. The employee-owned company has approximately 8,300 professionals in more than 120 offices worldwide and has completed projects in more than 100 countries. Services include engineering, procurement, construction, design, management consulting, asset management, environmental consulting and security.
Black & Veatch has deployed more than 45,000 miles of fiber for commercial carriers, cities and utilities. In 2020, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission chose Black & Veatch to install a new fiber optic network along more than 200 miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Revenue in 2020 was $3 billion. In 2020, Black & Veatch’s telecommunications business was ranked No. 2 by the Engineering News-Record.
C Spire Home Services
Key Products: Gigabit-speed internet access, live streaming video, digital home phone and smart-home services delivered over a fiber-based network
Summary: C Spire is building a fiber-based broadband network in Mississippi to attract investment and economic growth and pave the way for improvements in health care, education, civic life, business development and expansion, and municipal services. C Spire Home is taking its gigabit FTTH platform to Saltillo and Gulfport, Mississippi and plans to add Biloxi this year to cover roughly 78,000 new households. Using a demand-based model, C Spire Home Services – the company’s residential broadband unit – expanded to 20 markets at the end of 2019. In addition to its fiber builds, C Spire advanced its network reach through electric utility partnerships with Entergy and Alabama Power. It completed an $11 million infrastructure project with Entergy, which serves 2.9 million electric customers. This agreement enables it to offer broadband services to some of Mississippi’s most isolated rural areas. C Spire signed a similar partnership with Alabama Power to supply fiber-based internet in Birmingham and other parts of Alabama this year. The provider will use a demand aggregation model in Alabama to help gauge community interest and guide decisions on broadband deployment.
New and existing customers can take advantage of its Smart Wi-Fi solution. Powered by smart-home services provider Plume, Smart Wi-Fi improves coverage while offering online security. Alabama communities are seeing multiple construction starts and deployments after C Spire announced a $1 billion investment to speed the availability of FTTH networks. About $500 million is marked for fiber expansion in Alabama over a five-year period. In April, the company began construction on an FTTH network in Tuscaloosa County and is accepting consumer preorders. Construction also began in the north Shelby County cities of Helena and Pelham with Alabaster expected to start soon, and the company began connecting customers in Jasper. Headquartered in Ridgeland, Mississippi, C Spire has 1,499 employees.
Key Products: Fiber access solutions for residential and business services, managed home Wi-Fi with value-added subscriber experience applications, network and services management software
Summary: With more than 1,600 customers worldwide, Calix serves a wide range of North American FTTx providers and a growing share of international markets with fiber access and home Wi-Fi solutions. Since 2017, it has leveraged its transformation from providing wireline access systems to offering software platforms, cloud analytics and value-added subscriber experience solutions that enable broadband service providers to compete with consumer brand giants. The Calix Intelligent Access EDGE and Revenue EDGE solutions leverage its award-winning software platforms. Calix Cloud now delivers persona-directed Calix Marketing Cloud and Calix Support Cloud solutions to more than 500 customers. The Experience Innovation Platform, a unique hybrid cloud-premises software platform that supports residential and small business subscribers, powers the Calix Revenue EDGE Systems as well as third-party CPE.
The AXOS platform at the core of the Intelligent Access EDGE allows software functions in the access network to run independently of the underlying hardware; about 1,000 independent application modules run on AXOS. Calix’s AXOS systems power Verizon’s strategic One Fiber initiative to move residential, business and mobile transport services into a converged NG-PON2 network. To help service providers transition to SDN-orchestrated automation, Calix introduced the AXOS SMx access domain controller that enables providers to deploy SDN-automated workflows while simultaneously interfacing with existing back-office systems. In 2020, Calix Professional Services added network consulting services to its lineup. The Intelligent Access EDGE systems – including the temperature-hardened E7-2 Intelligent Modular System – support integrated 100GE aggregation. The E9-2 Intelligent Edge System provides service aggregation routing with broadband network gateway capabilities.
Headquartered in San Jose, California, Calix had 2019 revenue of $424 million, rising to $542 million in 2020 despite global pandemic and supply chain headwinds. Calix employed 785 people at the end of 2020.
“With 5G, SpaceX and fiber optics, the information pathways are only getting bigger. This renewed interest in funding and focus could be the turning point that gets us back to once again being excited like in 1996. I believe today we are witnessing the calm before the storm.”
– Bruce Smith, CEO, GEOGRAPH Technologies
Key Products: Regulatory, engineering, marketing, strategy and planning services; raising money for broadband projects
Summary: In business since 1997, CCG is a full-service consultant for small communications carriers. The company specializes in launching new broadband ventures and making existing businesses more profitable. CCG offers a wide range of regulatory, engineering, strategy and planning, operations, budgeting and billing services. The company helps clients design, upgrade and maximize fiber, coaxial, copper and wireless networks. CCG also offers direct operational assistance in areas such as number portability, new product development, cable programming, carrier disputes and billing audits. It is active in helping companies create workable public-private partnerships and secure funds for broadband projects – a specialty for which demand is growing. CCG continues to work on numerous feasibility studies for communities of all sizes and is helping several communities build and launch new broadband businesses.
Charter Communications / Spectrum Community Solutions
Key Products: Advanced broadband services, including internet, TV, fiber Wi-Fi and MDU Wi-Fi solutions
Summary: Charter Communications, the second-largest cable operator in the U.S., markets its services under the Spectrum brand. Spectrum Business provides broadband communications solutions to small and medium-sized business organizations. Charter serves more than 31.1 million customers in 41 states through the Spectrum brand, offering internet, mobile and voice to residential customers. Charter doubled minimum internet speeds to 200 Mbps in several markets at no additional cost to new and existing Spectrum internet customers. Spectrum Community Solutions helps property owners offer technology amenities to residents, including professionally managed Wi-Fi, TV and voice.
In February 2020, Charter announced plans to move toward 10G symmetrical broadband speeds. As a first step, the company finished digitizing its 41-state footprint and rolled out DOCSIS 4.0. In response to the COVID-19 virus, Charter expanded its free, 60-day Spectrum broadband internet and Wi-Fi offer to include educators who are new Spectrum subscribers. Later, the company moved to virtual recruiting, hired more than 3,000 new employees nationwide and continues to hire during the COVID-19 crisis.
As part of its goal to deepen its rural market presence, Charter announced plans for a $5 billion dollar initiative to expand gigabit broadband access to more than 1 million low-density, rural customer locations with starting speeds of 200 Mbps. The cable MSO was one of the big winners in the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, securing $1.2 billion in support. With 96,100 employees, in 2020 the company reported $48 billion in annual revenue, up from $45.8 billion in 2019.
Key Products: Engineering, network planning, managed NOC and managed IT services; communications billing software
Summary: CHR is a broadband systems provider enabling clients to grow their networks and customer bases at rapid speeds. It offers a range of engineering, business and technology solutions that support better broadband for telecoms, electric co-ops, utilities and municipalities nationwide. CHR has designed FTTx networks that pass more than 2 million premises. Services include preparing applications for loans and grants; broadband planning; performing high-level, detailed, outside-plant design for FTTx networks; permitting; converting GIS/CAD files and implementing outside plant.
CHR engineering specializes in fiber design and has expertise in various communications technologies, including xDSL, PON, active Ethernet, Carrier Ethernet and fixed wireless. CHR also provides B/OSS (billing, customer management, business and network operations) and outsourced managed IT/NOC services. The evolution of the B/OSS product continues. Its new Omnia360 customer management functionality enables handling rapid customer growth. The system also includes real-time analytics to support better business intelligence and easy implementation of subscription-based prepaid services. New customers include Alaska Communications, Beacon Broadband, CobbEMC, Cross Telephone, Gila River Telecommunications and Point Broadband. For example, Beacon Broadband, a subsidiary of Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative (CCEC) in southern Oregon, is building a new, rural, fiber-to-the-premises network and selected Omnia360 as its business software solution. The company is headquartered in Houston.
Key Products: Telephone, data, video, wireless and information technology solutions
Summary: Cincinnati Bell and its consolidated subsidiaries provide integrated communications and IT solutions. During 2020, the company passed an additional 13,600 addresses in the Greater Cincinnati area with Fioptics, which included a focus on FTTP addresses, as FTTP has become a more relevant solution for its customers. As of December 31, 2020, Fioptics products are available to approximately 637,000 customer locations, or 75 percent of the Greater Cincinnati operating territory. Last year, the company passed an additional 7,900 addresses in Hawaii. The consumer/SMB fiber products are available to approximately 254,300 addresses, or 50 percent of the operating territory in Hawaii, including Oahu and neighboring islands.
In 2020, the company also invested $25 million in enterprise fiber products, including fiber- and IP-based core network technology. The investment positioned the company to meet increased business and carrier demand within Greater Cincinnati and in contiguous markets in the Midwest region. In Hawaii, expenditures are for high-bandwidth data transport products, such as Metro Ethernet, including the Southeast Asia to U.S. cable. Cincinnati Bell continues to evolve and optimize network assets to support the migration of legacy products to new technology. As of December 31, 2020, the company increased the total number of commercial addresses with fiber-based services (referred to as lit addresses) to 30,200 in Greater Cincinnati and 21,200 in Hawaii by connecting approximately 1,400 additional lit addresses in Greater Cincinnati and 900 additional lit addresses in Hawaii. The company also expanded the fiber network to span more than 12,900 route miles in Greater Cincinnati and 4,900 route miles in Hawaii and provided cell site backhaul services to approximately 90 percent of the 1,000 cell sites in the Greater Cincinnati market. Approximately 97 percent of these sites and 80 percent of the 1,100 cell sites in Hawaii are lit with fiber. Cincinnati Bell’s revenue in 2020 was $1.56 billion.
“Greenlight Networks is thrilled to start bringing high-speed, fiber internet to the Buffalo and Binghamton areas and to continue in our tenth year of expanding throughout the Rochester region. As we emerge from the pandemic, we see a deeper appreciation for fiber broadband service and our ability to offer blazingly fast upload and download speeds for customers. Our team is so proud and honored to be included in the Top 100 companies list.”
– Mark Murphy, CEO, Greenlight Networks
Key Products: Fiber distribution and protection systems for inside plant, outside plant and access networks
Summary: Headquartered in Minneapolis, Clearfield designs and manufactures fiber management, fiber protection and fiber delivery products that accelerate fiber services activation. The company has four main product lines: FieldSmart fiber distribution systems for the inside plant and FieldSmart fiber scalability centers for the outside plant; a fiber delivery point series for access networks; FieldShield, an optical fiber delivery and protection platform made of microduct and preconnectorized pushable fiber; and the YOURx platform, which accepts multiple types of drop cable media. All Clearfield product lines integrate with the Clearview Cassette 12-fiber management system.
In 2020, Clearfield introduced three products to accelerate fiber deployments and reduce material and labor costs. The FieldSmart Fiber Active Cabinet for outdoor enclosures provides a single point of contact for passive and powered cabinet solutions. In April, Clearfield introduced the StreetSmart Fiber Hand-Off Box for fiber-based 5G deployments and its Home Deployment Kits, allowing DIY customers to complete the fiber connection from outside the home to the customer premises.
In addition to enhancing its product line, Clearfield added a manufacturing plant in Tijuana, Mexico. In October 2020, Clearfield introduced its FieldSmart Fiber Delivery Point (FDP) indoor 288-port wall box, optimized for dense MDU environments and designed to streamline large MDU deployments. This year, Clearfield launched a new 48-port adapter configuration for its Clearview Blue Cassette, which allows service providers to easily scale fiber capacity and improve data rates. Earlier this year, Clearfield partnered with four other manufacturers (Prysmian Group, Dura-Line, Oldcastle Infrastructure and Primex) to launch the FiberONE program, which will offer a broadband infrastructure solution to all rural areas of Canada. Clearfield, which has 240 employees, posted $93 million in revenue for the year ending September 2020, up from $85 million in 2019.
Comcast Cable / XFINITY Communities
Key Products: Internet, video, voice and home security services
Summary: Comcast delivers internet, phone and media services to residential and business customers under the XFINITY and Comcast Business brands. XFINITY Communities works with building and property owners, developers, leasing agents and homeowners associations to provide services to MDU residents. Comcast offers 1 Gbps service to nearly all the homes and businesses in its U.S. territory over its HFC network, using DOCSIS 3.1 technology. It also delivers FTTH-based gigabit residential service in greenfield MDUs and offers a premium 2 Gbps symmetrical residential FTTH service to about 18 million homes. In 2019, Comcast launched an in-home Wi-Fi digital security service and expanded its managed broadband footprint into Canada. The cable MSO also has enhanced its Wi-Fi management and smart-city capabilities.
Comcast acquired Deep Blue Communications, which provides engineering, installation and commercial Wi-Fi network management services. Meanwhile, its IoT subsidiary, machineQ, collaborates with Neptune Technology Group to accelerate smart-city projects for advanced water metering and infrastructure. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Comcast raised speeds of its Internet Essentials offering for lower-income subscribers from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps for all new and existing customers. New families that connect will get 60 days of free internet service.
At the end of 2020, Comcast Cable had 33.1 million total customer relationships, including 30.7 million residential and 2.43 million business relationships. Passing more than 59 million homes and businesses, Comcast’s total penetration of homes and businesses was 56 percent. A total of 31 million residential customers subscribe to Comcast’s high-speed internet services, and 19.8 million subscribe to video services. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Comcast Cable is a division of Comcast Corporation. Comcast Cable reported 2020 revenue of $60.1 billion, up from $60 billion in 2020.
Key Products: Cable and connectivity products
Summary: With a suite of headend/central office, outside-plant and end-user broadband solutions, CommScope provides carriers, electric co-ops and other operators solutions to address residential, MDU, commercial and cellular backhaul applications. Founded in Hickory, North Carolina, CommScope is the largest supplier of subscriber-premises connectivity and conduit products. By acquiring ARRIS and its subsidiary, Ruckus Networks, in 2019, CommScope solidified its position as a wired and wireless communications infrastructure solution provider.
To capture the strategic value of the acquisitions, CommScope realigned into four business segments in 2020 – Venue and Campus Networks, Broadband Networks, Outdoor Wireless Networks and Home Networks. Ruckus Wi-Fi products continue to gain traction; XFINITY Communities equipped Vantage, an off-campus housing development for Temple University students, with Ruckus Wi-Fi platforms. The new Ruckus R750 802.11ax indoor Wi-Fi access point is Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 from the Wi-Fi Alliance. In 2021, the company launched the NOVUX Portfolio of Global Fiber Deployment Solutions, a flexible, modular architecture that allows operators to use 75 percent fewer components than existing solutions while delivering 50 times the number of configurations. It also expanded its RUCKUS Wi-Fi 6 Portfolio for hospitality, MDUs and Smart Spaces. Earlier this year, CommScope announced plans to spin off its Home Networks business into a new, independent public company. The move is an early part of the CommScope NEXT strategy to optimize the business portfolio and control costs. In 2020, CommScope’s revenue was $8.43 billion, up from $8.34 billion in 2019.
Key Products: Gigabit internet, HDTV, phone service
Summary: A decade ago, Co-Mo Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Tipton, Missouri, served an area only 15 percent covered by broadband. In response to customer demand, it launched a successful FTTH pilot project that eventually led to the construction of a privately funded, $70 million, 4,000-mile fiber network covering the co-op’s entire 2,300-square-mile territory. Operating under the name Co-Mo Connect, the network set an example that other electric co-ops have followed. Co-Mo Connect offers internet speeds that range from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps as well as phone and television services. In 2018, Co-Mo was awarded more than $21 million over 10 years from the FCC Connect America Fund II auction. The money will support the current network and help expand it into adjacent areas.
The company is in the process of building out its network in three new areas of Missouri – Barnett, Jamestown, and Prairie Home – and is conducting an active sign-up campaign in Otterville. Before Co-Mo begins building out services in a new city, it must reach a sign-up goal of 30 percent of residents. Co-Mo Connect serves thousands of Missouri subscribers with internet speeds that can support smart-home technologies and farm technologies proven to increase revenue. The company has about 80 employees.
Key Product: FTTx network planning and design software
Summary: Comsof is the creator of Comsof Fiber, a solution for the automated planning and design of FTTx networks. With more than 100 million homes planned in more than 50 countries, Comsof Fiber makes fiber network design smart, fast and intuitive. Comsof Fiber’s automation and optimization enables smart-business decisions in the strategic planning phase and future-proof FTTx architecture during the detailed network design. This is possible because of the unique combination of algorithms that integrate real-world design rules and optimization capabilities based on GIS data.
“As America grapples with how to expand broadband access and affordability, there’s one basic business principle to consider that can address both: competition. In markets where true broadband competition exists, we see better prices, more reliable service and greater access. Open-access networks promote competition, and UTOPIA Fiber has proven that they work well in urban, suburban and even rural areas.”
– Roger Timmerman, executive director/CEO, UTOPIA Fiber
Key Products: Consulting services, fiber design and construction management, funding and operations for rural electric cooperatives deploying FTTH
Summary: Conexon is a leader in the electric cooperative broadband movement, with a mission of closing the digital divide through fiber to the home. Founded in 2015, Conexon’s architecture and approach enables electric cooperatives to leverage their infrastructures to deliver fiber broadband services efficiently and affordably to 100 percent of their membership. The company is composed of professionals who have worked in electric cooperatives and the telecommunications industry, and offer decades of individual experience in business planning, building networks, marketing and selling telecommunications. Conexon offers clients end-to-end broadband deployment and operations support, working with them to analyze economic feasibility, secure financing, design the network, manage construction, provide operational support, optimize business performance and determine optimal partnerships.
To date, Conexon has assisted nearly 200 electric cooperatives, nearly 50 of which are deploying fiber networks, with approximately 500,000 rural Americans across the U.S. connected to fiber to the home. Overall, the company has secured more than $1.3 billion in federal and state funding for its clients across the country. In 2021, Conexon launched its internet service provider subsidiary, Conexon Connect, an entity formed to operate and manage cooperative and investor-owned, fiber-to-the-home networks. Conexon Connect recently participated as part of Conexon’s Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium, a bidding entity awarded more than $1.1 billion through the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction to deliver broadband service at the gigabit tier. The Connect awards encompass dozens of electric co-op territories throughout 10 states and will result in lightning-fast symmetrical broadband service to more than 2 million Americans – fiber to 100 percent of rural homes and businesses in all the territories awarded in the RDOF auction. Conexon has grown to 300 employees strong and is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri.
Key Products: High-speed internet, data, phone, security, managed services, cloud services, wholesale carrier solutions
Summary: Based in Mattoon, Illinois, Consolidated Communications is a broadband provider serving consumers, businesses and wireless and wireline carriers across rural and metro communities in a 23-state area. Consolidated has built a fiber network spanning 47,400 fiber route miles. In 2021, the company embarked on an ambitious fiber expansion plan that will deliver symmetrical, multi-gig speeds via new FTTP networks to more than 70 percent of its service footprint by 2025. An early adopter of public-private partnerships, Consolidated has worked with numerous rural towns throughout northern New England to build out townwide FTTH networks that provide up to 1 Gbps symmetrical speeds to residents. The company offers various over-the-top options to complement its fiber services and provides enhanced security and business communications solutions, including DDoS Mitigation, Cloud Secure, ProConnect and several productivity tools. Consolidated Communications reported $1.30 billion in 2020 revenues and has 3,200 employees.
Corning Optical Communications
Key Products: Optical fiber, optical fiber cable, FTTx product suite (cabinets, splitters, terminals, housings, drops), closures, connectors, cable assemblies, wireless access networks, engineering services, training
Summary: In 2020, Corning marked the 50th anniversary of the first commercial, low-loss optical fiber – an innovation that transformed the communications industry. Corning remains a top provider in passive optical products and is the world’s largest fiber producer; it opened a new fiber factory in Poland last year. The company has been behind many innovations, including loose-tube cable design, plug-and-play solutions for LAN, and data-center applications. Its hardened, pre-connectorized products offer providers new FTTH network deployment options, such as its ultra-bend-insensitive ClearCurve product suite, designed to lower installation costs by minimizing the need for highly skilled labor.
Designed for long-haul, metro and FTTH network applications, Corning’s SMF-28 Ultra Optical Fiber combines low attenuation with improved macro bend performance. Corning responded to the need for higher fiber counts with RocketRibbon, which doubles the density of fiber in a 200-micron outer diameter. In 2020, the biggest news from Corning involved fiber-fed 5G deployments in buildings. The company introduced smaller, 5G-ready connectivity solutions; began a collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies on 5G mmWave in-building network systems; launched commercially available in-building 5G with Verizon; and announced collaboration with EnerSys to simplify delivery of fiber and power to small-cell wireless sites, speeding 5G deployment.
UL and the Telecommunications Industry Association launched the world’s first comprehensive SPIRE Smart Building Program in collaboration with Corning. Corning also introduced its Evolv hardened connectivity solutions designed to accelerate deployment of fiber networks and launched its Pushlok connector, reducing terminal size, facilitating lower costs and allowing quick connectivity. In 2020, Corning’s optical communications business reported $3.6 billion in revenue. The company has experienced unprecedented demand as the world emerges from lockdown and is actively investing to expand manufacturing capacity to meet the needs of the markets it serves.
Key Products: Demand aggregation software, BSS/OSS for managing open-access fiber networks
Summary: The COS Systems software suite helps network owners profitably plan, deploy and manage broadband networks to deliver services from one or more providers. COS Service Zones is a demand aggregation tool that enables network builders to identify grassroots interest in better broadband, spread awareness of their projects and presell internet connections using a fiberhood approach. COS Business Engine is a BSS/OSS suite for automation of the business processes and operations of fiber networks. It enables operators to market and sell services from multiple providers in an online marketplace with zero-touch service provisioning.
COS clients include private ISPs and operators, public-private partnerships, municipalities and utilities and cooperatives in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. In October 2020, COS Systems was acquired by Pivot Partners, and in February 2021, COS brought on new CEO Mikael Philipsson, who will further advance the company’s goal of automating fiber networks globally. One of the company’s founders, Anders Lindehall, will manage and strengthen relations with existing partners. New product functionality includes billing platform integrations and a workflow engine to automate new customer hook-ups. Recently, COS entered a partnership with Render Networks, a digital network construction platform that accelerates deployment durations and connection experiences. Privately held COS Systems is headquartered in Umeå, Sweden, and has U.S. headquarters in New York City. With 19 employees, it posted revenue of $4 million for 2020.
Key Products: High-speed internet, digital video, voice and smart-home services
Summary: The largest private telecom company in the U.S., Cox Communications serves 6 million homes and businesses across 18 states. Cox was one of the first to launch residential gigabit internet speeds, now available to all customers nationwide. It joined NCTA, CableLabs, Cable Europe and other large cable operators to implement the 10G initiative, a technology platform that provides a path from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps over existing HFC plant. Cox also teamed with US Ignite to help make Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego among the first “smart gigabit communities.” In addition, Cox launched Cox2M, which provides custom IoT solutions for businesses and cities.
Cox has been a leader in bridging the digital divide for low-income families with school-age children through its Connect2Compete internet offer. This past year, it increased program speeds and helped connect more than 60,000 new customers during the pandemic. The company also pledged $60 million over the next year to close the digital learning gap. In 2020, Cox increased its internet speeds and offered new, affordable packages to help those impacted by the pandemic stay connected and to support the communities it serves. The company also joined the FCC’s Keep America Connected initiative.
Cox Communications is the largest division of Cox Enterprises, a family-owned business founded in 1898 by James M. Cox, who later served three terms as governor of Ohio. Cox Communities is the division that delivers solutions to MDU owners, managers and developers, SFU developers, and the residents and owners within their communities to support them in optimizing rents and occupancy and making their properties future-ready. The cable MSO continually enhances its business services line through organic fiber builds and targeted acquisitions. It recently acquired Charlotte, North Carolina–based Segra, one of the largest privately held fiber infrastructure providers in the U.S.
“We talk a lot about ‘underserved’ communities when it comes to connectivity, and in a way these providers have been underserved themselves when it comes to access to the tools and technology they need to rise to this unprecedented opportunity. We worked with operators to understand their needs and built a platform to empower them with a solution that modernizes their operations and brings their data to life.”
– Will Mitchell, CEO and co-founder, VETRO FiberMap
CTC Technology & Energy
Key Products: Fiber and wireless broadband network planning and design, engineering, financial analysis, strategy, assessment, implementation
Summary: CTC Technology & Energy (CTC) offers extensive experience and expertise in all aspects of broadband strategic planning, needs assessment, feasibility analysis, engineering, business modeling, grant strategy and grant writing. Founded in 1983, CTC delivers independent strategic, technical and financial guidance on broadband primarily to public and nonprofit entities, including state and local governments, cooperative and municipal utilities and nonprofit consortia and universities. With more than 15 years of experience with federal, state and regional grant programs, CTC helps clients capitalize on funding opportunities. The firm identifies program options and develops appropriate funding strategies that align clients’ broadband plans, including public-private collaboration, with available funding opportunities.
CTC is a pioneer in digital equity analysis and planning. Through innovative approaches to data collection and analysis, the firm helps public-sector clients better understand the gaps that may keep all residents from making the most meaningful use of broadband. These approaches do not focus on building new infrastructure but rather on developing strategic guidance regarding the combination of factors related to affordability, device access, digital literacy, language barriers, security concerns and other issues that prevent internet adoption and use. CTC is currently performing digital equity studies for the cities of Dallas, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Bloomington, Indiana.
Key Products: FTTH network design, engineering, construction, testing
Summary: Founded in 1972 and headquartered in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, Danella Companies has 17 divisions operating from 29 geographically diverse facilities in 12 states. Danella Construction performs approximately $225 million in work per year and is a leading installation contractor for all types of utilities, providing services for the power, gas distribution, water and communications industries. Danella continues to expand its FTTH services for Tier-1 service providers and municipalities. By acquiring Florida-based Viking Utility Services in 2020, Danella expanded its underground utilities power and communications infrastructure installation and repair expertise. Viking’s capabilities include new construction development infrastructure, overhead to underground electric conversion, communications (fiber, coax, FTTx), directional drilling and locating services.
Danella also has been enhancing its management team. In 2020, Danella Engineering and Construction Corporation (DECC) tapped Danella veteran Dan Howick as its new vice president. He returned to Danella after serving a two-plus-years stint as the vice president of design and construction for Magellan Advisors. DECC offers broadband network design, engineering, planning, deployment and implementation fields. Howick can apply his experience as a licensed general and utilities contractor specializing in fiber optics to meet its broadband customers growing demands.
The company also is making efforts to boost diversity. In August 2020, it named Kate Howick as director of operations for the company’s engineering division. Among her many tasks is helping restart the engineering division, which focuses on broadband, and managing its day-to-day operations. Danella bolstered its ranking in the 2020 Engineering News-Record’s report. The company was ranked No. 81, moving up from No. 87. It also ranked No. 10 in the Top 20 Utility Firms listing.
Design Nine / WideOpen Networks
Key Products: Planning and feasibility studies; business and financial planning; project management; network design, buildout and operations
Summary: The broadband planning and network design firm Design Nine is well known for its expertise in local-transport and open-access networks. Design Nine’s services include fiber and wireless network design, grant-writing assistance, needs assessment, broadband network buildout assistance, financial modeling, business planning, legal and organizational design of community-owned broadband systems, and project management. Open-access networks it planned and designed include Bozeman Fiber in Montana; Palm Coast FiberNET in Florida; nDanville, Rockbridge and Wired Road in Virginia; FastRoads in New Hampshire; AccessEagan in Minnesota; and fiber to the home in Blacksburg, Virginia, and Charles City County in Virginia.
Design Nine’s subsidiary, WideOpen Networks, manages community-owned and private-sector networks, providing network monitoring, service provisioning, service provider attraction, asset management, billing and outside-plant management. The company has been recognized by “CIO Review” as a Top 20 Emerging Network Solution Provider. WideOpen Networks plans to develop 40 miles of fiber in Blacksburg, Virginia, in the coming year that will service up to 8,000 homes. Design Nine’s broadband planning work continues to expand, with a sharp increase in the number of feasibility studies completed and a steady increase in the number of municipalities requesting help. In the past 12 months, Design Nine has worked with 33 localities to develop broadband planning and feasibility recommendations in five states and managed four fiber and wireless broadband network buildouts. Headquartered in Blacksburg, Virginia, Design Nine works on projects throughout North America.
Key Products: Construction equipment for laying fiber
Summary: Ditch Witch offers tools that allow service providers to dig efficiently through challenging terrain, congested roadways and manicured lawns to build FTTH networks. It specializes in developing underground construction equipment, including trenchers, microtrenchers, vibratory plows, horizontal directional drills, mud recycling and fluid systems, drill pipe, HDD tooling, vacuum excavation systems and mini skid steers. Ditch Witch microtrenchers are designed to improve productivity and reduce the cost per foot on fiber job sites. The company’s newest fiber installation offering is the JT20XP horizontal directional drill package, which features the JT20XP drill and XP44 mixing system for midsize utility installation jobs. In 2019, Toro Company acquired Ditch Witch’s parent company, Charles Machine Works, for $700 million, a deal that allows Ditch Witch and other associated Charles Machine Works brands to access Toro’s reach and presence as a large international brand. Charles Machine Works is also the parent of several other underground-construction brands, including Subsite Electronics, DW/TXS, HammerHead, Radius HDD, American Augers, Trencor and MTI Equipment.
Among the company’s latest underground construction products are the RT80 Trencher and the JT24 Directional Drill. To help contractors centralize fleet and machine information, Ditch Witch launched the Stand-On Skid Steer, the HX30G Vacuum Excavator and the Orange Intel Fleet Management System. Ditch Witch’s factory is in Perry, Oklahoma, and the company has more than 1,400 employees. Its equipment is distributed through a worldwide dealer organization that operates in more than 100 countries through more than 170 locations.
Key Products: Conduit, cable-in-conduit, microducts, accessories
Summary: Dura-Line develops and manufactures high-density polyethylene conduits for protecting fiber optic, electrical and coaxial cables. It supplies fiber optic conduit and related products to telecom, data, cable TV, power and other markets. Customers include leading U.S. and international telephone and cable providers. Dura-Line developed the first ducts for installing and protecting fiber optic cables in 1981, introduced a complete line of fiber optic microduct products in 2001 and followed up in 2003 with FuturePath, a bundled package of microducts that can be installed the same way as traditional conduit. FuturePath allows up to 24 pathways in a single conduit, and the FuturePath Figure-8, introduced in 2018, allows bundling seven microducts into one conduit for aerial fiber. Other recent product releases include new conduit and microducts made from a low-smoke, zero-halogen material designed for use where smoke, toxic fumes and acidic gases pose risks. In February 2021, in response to the global COVID-19 crisis, Dura-Line’s parent company, Orbia, and the Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities), a city-led network to empower cities to advance the lives of urban dwellers, announced a partnership to produce innovative, long-term infrastructure investments that include connectivity. Dura-Line has 20 locations and 1,500-plus employees worldwide.
“Like others in the industry, we are seeing unprecedented demand from communities of all sizes for FTTH gigabit services and network deployment. Our teams are developing networks now for the delivery of multi-gigabit speeds to the end user because we expect it to become the standard for new networks within the next 12 months.”
– Dan Sivils, chief operating officer, GigabitNow
Key Products: Program and project management, engineering, construction, maintenance, installation services
Summary: Dycom provides specialty contracting services, including engineering, construction, program and project management, materials provisioning, installation and maintenance to telecommunications, cable MSOs and broadband providers throughout the U.S. Its subsidiaries provide services to construct, install, optimize and maintain communications facilities. The company offers a full suite of turnkey services for wireline and wireless networks, including planning, site identification and acquisition, architectural and engineering services, design, project management, materials purchasing and distribution, infrastructure and tower construction, equipment and antenna installation, cable placement and splicing, central office EF&I, commission, integration, residential and commercial installations, customer acquisition, locating services and maintenance.
AT&T, Comcast and Charter all recently awarded Dycom construction and fulfillment service contracts and extensions, and Dycom recently signed a rural fiber services contract covering two states. Dycom is also finding new opportunities to assist electric co-ops with their FTTH builds. Steven Nielsen, CEO of Dycom, noted in the company’s fiscal 2022 first-quarter call that fiber construction revenue from electrical utilities was $44.1 million in the quarter (5.9 percent of total revenue). He added that this activity increased organically 125 percent year-over-year. Founded in 1969 and headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, with more than 14,000 employees, Dycom posted $3.3 billion in revenue for fiscal year 2020, up from $3.1 billion in 2019.
Key Products: 5G, network edge and cloud technologies, 10 Gbps PON, GPON and Wi-Fi gateways
Summary: DZS, formerly DASAN-Zhone, is having a worldwide growth spurt, in part because it’s an alternative to banned or restricted Chinese vendors and in part because it’s one of the few large vendors in cellular and fixed wireless as well as fiber broadband. By the close of 2020, its customers included 10 of the world’s top 25 wireline and wireless telecommunications service providers and six of the top 20 mobile service providers. Its Chronos intelligent converged edge mobile transport portfolio provides a range of fronthaul/midhaul/backhaul solutions. Its open software xHaul solutions feature flexible topologies and architectures, including O-RAN, across packet and optical transport technologies. Chronos, xHaul and the DZS Velocity can be jointly controlled from regional datacenter to headend, central office and cloud sites to network edge through its sdNOS network operating software. Communications analyst firm Omdia says DZS shipped more fiber OLT ports than any other U.S.-based supplier in 2020. DZS recently told investors it shipped more than 1.5 million mobile access ports as well.
Early this year, DZS raised $64 million in new investment to erase debt and help fund market expansion. Though it has always been a factor in the U.S. market, it is a regional leader in both broadband connectivity and 5G mobile transport in South Korea and Japan and has moved strongly into cloud-native, software-defined networking. In February, DZS acquired Optelian, specializing in 100 Gbps 5G mobile transport solutions. A month later, it acquired network control and automation innovator RIFT to build on the 20 million mobile and fixed broadband products DZS has deployed in more than 100 countries. Revenue in 2020 was $301 million. The new DZS headquarters in Plano, Texas, including an extensive engineering and customer lab facility, has been fully operational since March.
EPB Fiber Optics
Key Products: Voice, video, data and smart-grid services provided over a fiber optic network
Summary: EPB’s FTTP network is frequently cited as a national model for deploying a community-based fiber optic network accessible to every home and business in its 600-square-mile service area. A municipal utility serving the Chattanooga area, EPB pioneered a groundbreaking business plan combining a fiber optic network with cutting-edge smart-grid technology. In 2010, EPB became the first U.S. provider to launch a gig-speed internet service accessible to all its customers. EPB also uses the Chattanooga fiber optic network as the communications backbone for one of the most advanced and highly automated self-healing smart-grid power distribution systems in the U.S.
EPB’s smart grid reroutes power around storm damage and other disruptions to reduce outages by about 50 percent per year, which saves customers an estimated $50 million in annual losses associated with spoiled goods, lost productivity and other outage-related damages. A recent study by Bento Lobo, Ph.D., documents $2.69 billion in community benefit for Chattanooga during the first 10 years since EPB’s fiber optic deployment. Positive impacts include creating nearly 10,000 additional jobs (above normal growth), bridging the digital divide for students, reducing carbon emissions and participating in more than 100 national research projects testing smart-city technologies.
Today, EPB serves more than 120,000 homes and businesses. In addition to being the first to launch 1 Gbps speed, EPB also premiered the first 10 Gbps service available as a standard offer to all U.S. homes and businesses in 2015. From the start, all EPB internet services included unlimited data, symmetrical upload and download speeds, and customer service and tech support 24/7/365. In July 2020, EPB partnered with Hamilton County Schools and other community partners to launch HCS EdConnect, which provides broadband internet to families with students in need at no charge. Qualified families receive 100 Mbps speeds, professionally installed routers and full technical support – and they can keep the service for at least 10 years. EPB plans to raise funding to keep the program going indefinitely. EPB also launched EPB Broadband Solutions in 2018 to help other communities build fiber optic networks. In addition to offering expertise, EPB Broadband Solutions provides a range of services to reduce capital cost and financial risk while accelerating speed to market.
Key Products: UPS equipment for fiber installations
Summary: Kansas-based ESPi manufactures several lines of UPS (uninterrupted power supply) equipment for FTTH installations. UPS backup equipment provides immediate protection against input power interruptions until power is restored. The company offers indoor and outdoor solutions as well as solar and hybrid units. ESPi’s UPS product line includes 12V NEO Indoor, 12V TITAN Outdoor, 12V TITAN Solar, 24V TITAN-24, 48V Mega TITAN, VOLTAR 2.0 Solar UPS, AC/DC Power adapters and other power supplies. The VOLTAR 2.0, an off-grid solar solution, supplies uninterruptible power to remote locations or anywhere utility power is not available. Available in 12V, 24V, 36V and 48V models, the VOLTAR 2.0 is the next-generation solar UPS. ESPi distributes its products through various partners, including Border States, United Tel-Supply, Graybar, KGP Logistics and Power & Tel. Founded in 2009 and based in Clay Center, Kansas, ESPi is privately owned.
ETI Software Solutions
Key Products: Software products for managing broadband service activation, billing, device management and analytics
Summary: ETI Software Solutions specializes in operational software for service and subscriber provisioning, network configuration, inventory control and performance management for broadband service providers. Designed for fiber network operators, including municipalities, utilities and electric co-ops, Vision360 software features order entry and work order management, automated service provisioning, device inventory and device management, network management tools and advanced visual analytics to help maximize revenue.
Today, ETI Software is experiencing tremendous growth and momentum, led by its partnership with Microsoft and membership in TM Forum. This collaboration birthed a service-management platform that combines Microsoft Dynamics’ scalability, security and reliability with TM Forum standards and ETI’s expertise in device, subscriber and network management. Providers can now simplify the process of device and application integration, subscriber and service activation and consolidation of data to reduce costs, improve customer experiences and roll out next-generation services faster and more easily. ETI software provides a single point of control, enabling solutions that deliver new insights and more-personalized customer engagements spanning the full subscriber life cycle. With the creation of Dynamics 365 for Digital Service Providers, ETI offers enterprise-level capabilities to providers of all sizes, fulfilling the mission of putting subscribers at the center of the universe.
“I predict you will see more and more community broadband networks (including municipally owned and co-op/EMC-owned), especially through public-private partnerships. Big telcos historically have compiled all three in their offerings, but this is an incredibly inefficient business model. Because each telco owns its own infrastructure and competes for customers, the ROI is negatively affected. By only promoting the deployment of a single ‘agnostic’ physical network, the savings are expressed in lower prices, more extensive deployment or both.”
– Lee Comer, broadband engineering practice leader, Foresite Group
Key Products: Testing, monitoring and analytics solutions for the communications industry
Summary: EXFO, headquartered in Quebec, Canada, has offered testing, monitoring and analytics solutions for 35 years. The company has expertise in lab and field testing, providing solutions that automate FTTH testing and workflows to boost efficiency and subscriber quality of experience. EXFO’s FTTH test portfolio includes: fiber inspection solutions; OLTS, OTDR and iOLM, including CWDM and DWDM models; PON power meters; Ethernet protocol testers; and end-to-end monitoring solutions for the physical and service layers. In mid-2019, EXFO introduced the Optical Xplorer, an optical fiber multimeter that verifies optical links and automatically finds and identifies faults. Also announced was the Optical Wave Expert, a device that integrates DWDM channel power validation and intelligent OTDR fault-locating capabilities on a single port.
EXFO supports the end-to-end design to deployment ecosystem with test solutions for network equipment manufacturers and network operators alike. The company has been broadening its suite of 5G test tools and in 2020 expanded development of its cloud-native, AI-based Nova A|SA Adaptive Service Assurance platform. EXFO operates in more than 25 countries and counts 95 percent of the world’s top communications service providers as customers, including Openreach in the U.K. and eir in Ireland, which were announced within the last year. In fiscal 2020, EXFO reported revenue of $266 million.
Key Products: Optical passive devices, multiplexers, fiber optic cable assemblies, termination boxes, FTTH drop cables, fiber testing and installation services
Summary: Fiberdyne Labs, Inc., established in 1992, is a manufacturer of stock and custom fiber optic products, including termination boxes, passive modules (WDM and fiber splitters), fiber jumpers, pigtails and MPO cables and cassettes. Recent product introductions include in-building fiber tracing tools, FTTH drop cables, various wavelength-division-multiplexing solutions and a new 1RU termination box. The company also offers fiber characterization testing and installation services nationwide. With its fiber characterization service, Fiberdyne can determine whether a fiber plant will support a provider’s network equipment and transmission speed. Its installation services include managing, terminating, troubleshooting and testing copper and fiber optic cabling. It also offers fiber optic splicing services to repair broken fiber optic cables or to splice on factory terminated pigtails. Headquartered in Frankfort, New York, Fiberdyne has 77 full-time employees.
Key Products: Broadband network consulting, design and engineering services
Summary: Finley Engineering has 68 years of communications and electric power engineering experience and 30-plus years of experience with fiber communication and data projects. Finley works with organizations that provide fiber connections to improve quality of life and economic opportunities. The company has more than 250 employees nationwide and is one of the largest communications and network design companies in the U.S. Specializing in end-to-end engineering consulting, Finley works with telecom providers, electric cooperatives, municipalities and counties to find the best broadband strategies to fit specific needs. Every project starts with a strategic discussion regarding broadband and includes all stakeholders to gather critical information and perspectives. Finley’s approach is from start to finish – from the initial feasibility study to project completion. The company continues to specialize in helping clients secure rural broadband funding from grants and loans. In December 2020, Finley and CCG Consulting prepared the “Broadband Feasibility Report,” providing findings and recommendations for bringing better broadband to the electric service territory of the Farmington Electric Utility System.
Key Products: Broadband engineering, wireless services
Summary: Foresite Group is a multidisciplinary engineering, planning, design and consulting firm providing collaborative services to public- and private-sector clients nationwide. Its broadband engineering practice area integrates expertise in fiber optic engineering services, management and consultation to provide comprehensive broadband connectivity programs to clients and communities. To understand each community’s unique needs, goals and capabilities, the company developed a four-phase program to include a community assessment, a broadband master plan, program implementation and technology master planning. Clients include Huntsville Utilities, UTOPIA Fiber, Verizon, Google Fiber and AT&T.
Foresite Group was instrumental in the Huntsville Utilities (HU) fiber infrastructure network buildout, in which HU designated fibers for its own use and smart-grid applications while leasing a portion to Google Fiber. The firm also completed high-level design for an institutional network for the city of New Orleans and the Foundation for Louisiana. Foresite Group is currently working with Northline Leander Development Company to provide fiber conduit consulting and design services as well as project management services for its mixed-use development. Headquartered in the Atlanta area, Foresite Group has 150 associates in 15 offices nationwide.
Fujitsu Network Communications
Key Products: Consulting, solution design, deployment, integration, operation, project management, NOC services
Summary: Fujitsu Network Communications, based in Richardson, Texas, builds middle-mile and last-mile fiber and wireless networks, partnering with states, municipalities and utilities. The company works with customers or their consultants to plan, design, build, operate and maintain broadband networks, delivering custom, end-to-end network integration. Fujitsu offers a vendor-agnostic approach to provide turnkey solutions for FTTx implementations with the best of multivendor wireline, wireless and software technology. It has served as a prime integrator for high-profile projects that include an FTTH deployment by Kit Carson Electric Cooperative in Taos, New Mexico, and a middle-mile network for Horizon Telcom in southern and eastern Ohio. Another key project was serving as prime network integrator for municipal broadband provider FairlawnGig; Fujitsu currently maintains the network. A recent online survey revealed overall customer satisfaction with FairlawnGig is 94 percent. Traverse City (Michigan) Light & Power also tapped Fujitsu, launching a gigabit broadband service for businesses, public facilities and residents in fall 2019.
With remote work and schooling on the rise, Fujitsu deployed several new networks in 2020 and 2021, including a 53-mile FTTH network for Craig-Botetourt Rural Election in New Castle, Virginia. Valley TeleCom Group in Wilcox, Arizona, deployed the Fujitsu 1Finity optical networking platform and Virtuora Network Controller, enabling its existing network to support higher bandwidth and software-defined operations and management. A similar deployment was made for Pioneer Communications in southwestern Kansas. Fujitsu Network Communications is a subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited, a global information and communications technology company based in Japan, offering a full range of technology products, solutions and services in more than 100 countries. Fujitsu Limited, which has approximately 130,000 employees, reported consolidated revenues of $33.7 billion for the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2021.
Key Products: GIS-based software and support for designing, planning, mapping and managing fiber, copper and coaxial networks
Summary: Built for Esri’s platform, GEOGRAPH’s CrescentLink software empowers users to advance projects from design and staking to complete 360-degree views of their networks. Users can track and manage equipment, individual cable strands, splices, poles, pedestals, hand holes, panels and every connection right down to the port level. CrescentLink includes design, construction, staking, reporting, cost estimation and project management – all within GIS. GEOGRAPH FourSevens is a free tool for broadband providers to submit the FCC Form 477 by parsing feature classes and generating the required CSV file. The company shares its expertise with organizations looking to plan and build out network assets, audit and inventory existing assets and migrate data to a GIS platform. GEOGRAPH works with a wide range of customers, from local government entities to telecoms, utilities and universities. GEOGRAPH was founded in 2018 and is headquartered in Clemson, South Carolina.
“The trenchless market will continue to have a solid future. The need for telecommunications and power is immense and trenchless is a preferred way to install these utilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an eye-opener and is certain to create greater urgency around the need to ramp up data connectivity.”
– Dave Wisniewski, vice president, commercialization, Vermeer Corporation
Key Products: FTTH network solutions and internet services, including design, construction, operations, connectivity and customer support
Summary: GigabitNow offers communities of all sizes fast, reliable, affordable fiber internet without bandwidth caps and free from privacy worries or service constraints. The company offers customized solutions, including full turnkey services, for the development, construction, operations, support and delivery of gigabit fiber internet networks. GigabitNow concentrates on providing gigabit-class networks and services to unserved and underserved municipalities, multi-tenant buildings and private (including senior living) communities. GigabitNow lit large sections of Fullerton, California, in 2020 as part of its FiberCity project with SiFi Networks and started working with customers in neighboring communities on new connectivity services. It announced a new project for Placentia, California, in June of this year. Several other FiberCity projects with SiFi are underway, including in Salem, Massachusetts – GigabitNow’s first residential/business deployment on the East Coast. The company is also deploying new FTTH community networks in Oregon and Arizona. Founded in 1991, GigabitNow is a division of IsoFusion, one of the largest privately held, full-service ISPs and co-location providers in the Pacific Northwest.
Key Products: Software for broadband customer management, billing, provisioning and workforce management
Summary: Since 1980, GLDS has helped small operators look big by providing flexible billing and management software at affordable prices – including cloud-based options that require a much smaller investment. Partnering with major equipment suppliers, GLDS supports FTTH, IPTV, DOCSIS, OTT, LTE, wireless and legacy delivery systems and native (not DOCSIS) provisioning for Calix, ADTRAN, Nokia and other FTTH platforms. The company has installed solutions for more than 800 small and midsize broadband operators (12 new ones added in 2020), including FTTH, cable, satellite and wireless operators ranging from small startups to providers with more than 550,000 customers.
GLDS has offices in California, Wisconsin, Alabama and Lithuania and supports operators in all U.S. states except Delaware and 47 countries worldwide. Key products include BroadHub for billing and customer management (by salespeople, both in person and remotely) and SuperController for automated provisioning. MyBroadbandMarket allows operators to win new subscribers 24/365 by providing a virtual salesperson that can take customers through an online shopping, self-subscribing “mall.” GLDS hosts the platform, maintains security certificates and ensures PA-DSS compliance requirements, but it appears as part of any service provider’s online presence. WinForce tech, a mobile workforce management platform, empowers field techs with tools previously available only to office staff. The GLDS best-of-suite approach ensures that critical features come pre-integrated, eliminating the need for expensive, lengthy development timelines.
Key Products: Voice, video and gigabit internet services
Summary: Headquartered in Rochester, New York, GoNetspeed serves residential and small-business customers on its high-speed fiber optic network. The company was founded by Frank Chiaino, who formed Fibertech Networks, a company that built more than 14,000 miles of fiber network across the Northeast. It launched services late in 2017 and, during the first six months of 2018, built 100 miles of network across 13 towns in two states, serving more than 30,000 homes. In 2018, GoNetspeed began building fiber in West Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport, Connecticut, providing residential customers and small businesses access to internet speeds up to 1 Gbps. This year, the company announced its commitment to expand to neighborhoods spanning approximately 17,000 households in parts of West Hartford, Rocky Hill, Bristol and Plainville, Connecticut, and completed the first part of its expansion in Hamden and North Haven, Connecticut, allowing more than 1,000 homes to schedule GoNetspeed installation. The company also completed its expansion in the Fairfield Beach area, making service available to more than 3,600 homes. In Pennsylvania, GoNetspeed constructed an initial footprint in select areas of Pittsburgh and plans to quickly expand to nearby communities as part of its multiyear, multimillion-dollar private investment. In tandem with its aggressive network buildout strategy, GoNetspeed takes an unusual approach to customer care and pricing. It offers 24/7 customer support and a lifetime price pledge guaranteeing that for the entire time a resident is a customer in its service territory, GoNetspeed will not raise its monthly internet fee.
Key Products: PON electronics, fiber cabinets and enclosures, fiber optic cable, fiber splice closures and pedestals, DC power, fiber terminals
Summary: Graybar is a North American distributor of products and materials for telecommunications and other industries. FTTH and related solutions represent a significant portion of Graybar’s broadband business. Independent telephone companies and cooperatives, competitive exchange carriers, municipalities, rural electric cooperatives, contractors, wireless companies and cable operators all depend on Graybar. In December 2020, Graybar completed its acquisition of Shingle & Gibb Automation, a provider of automation and control solutions to industrial users and original equipment manufacturers. Founded in 1869 as Gray and Barton, Graybar sells thousands of items from major manufacturers; its value-added services include kitting and integrated solutions. Graybar observed its 150th anniversary and 90 years of employee ownership in 2019. A Fortune 500 company with net sales of $7.3 billion in 2020, Graybar employs 8,200 people at 292 locations throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. It is one of North America’s largest and oldest employee-owned companies.
Key Product: High-speed internet services
Summary: Founded in 2011 in Rochester, New York, Greenlight Networks is an ultra-high-speed broadband service provider that builds, owns and operates its fiber optic networks. It offers residential and small-business customers internet speeds up to 2 Gbps. Since Tom Golisano acquired a controlling interest in Greenlight Networks in mid-2018, the provider has tripled its staff and brought high-speed fiber internet to nearly 50,000 homes in 13 municipalities. Last year, Greenlight Networks announced an agreement with the City of Buffalo to lay its fiber broadband network. Service is expected to be available to nearly 10,000 homes across the Buffalo-Niagara region by the end of 2021. This year, Greenlight Networks signed an agreement to acquire Plexicomm, a Binghamton-based internet solutions provider. The partnership will bring high-speed fiber internet services to residents and businesses in Binghamton and across the greater Broome and Tioga County areas. In May, the FCC approved Greenlight Networks to participate in its Emergency Broadband Benefit program. It subsidizes broadband services for eligible households as part of the federal government’s efforts to reduce expenses for those struggling due to the pandemic.
Key Products: Internet, cable TV, smart-home security, phone
Summary: GVTC, an independent ISP, delivers high-speed internet, cable TV, smart-home security and phone to residential and business customers in far northern San Antonio, the Texas Hill Country and South-Central Texas. Today, more than 80 percent of GVTC’s service area has FTTH capability, with more expansion projects in the pipeline. In early 2019, GVTC simplified its FTTH offerings with a new tier structure featuring standard symmetrical speeds of up to 250 Mbps, with options to upgrade to 500 Mbps and 1 Gbps. Later, GVTC launched a premium Wi-Fi service with a Wi-Fi 6 router and a mobile app to control and customize subscribers’ Wi-Fi experiences. To date, GVTC has installed nearly 10,000 new routers. As of March 2020, GVTC ranked No. 1 nationwide among all U.S. internet service providers on the Netflix ISP Speed Index.
A key element of GVTC’s fiber buildout strategy is ongoing collaboration with the local economic development agencies and municipalities that use its fiber network to recruit and retain businesses. For example, GVTC built out fiber across Boerne, Bulverde and Gonzales, Texas, in partnership with the cities to make them attractive destinations for residents and businesses and is working with other nearby communities on similar fiber expansion partnerships. In March, GVTC achieved a net promoter score (NPS) of +44, up from +28 in 2020, for its Premium Wi-Fi Service using the full Calix Revenue Edge solution. This puts GVTC in the same category as companies such as Apple and Target, far above the norm for the telecommunications industry. To support the community, in 2021 GVTC awarded $185,000 in scholarships to local students through the GVTC Foundation. Scholarship categories include leadership, volunteerism and vocational/technical. In addition, GVTC awarded funds from its Capital Credits program for students in need. Located in New Braunfels, Texas, GVTC has 224 employees.
“Becoming a subscriber-centric organization is what’s driving much of the network transformation of telecommunication service providers. Having a single system with geospatial information, network and device information, and subscriber information all in one view unlocks the potential for proactive insights that everyone is dreaming about.”
– Jeff Fraleigh, president, ETI Software
Henkels & McCoy Group
Key Products: Planning, design, engineering, project management, construction, operations management, installation
Summary: Founded in 1923, Henkels & McCoy Group (HMG) is an industry-leading utility engineering and construction firm and FTTH pioneer. With expertise in state-of-the-art fiber optic technologies, HMG offers end-to-end solutions that address bandwidth needs, provide built-in future capacity, and deliver reliable, robust broadband connections that drive economic growth and prosperity in rural and urban communities. Capabilities include feasibility studies, project management, construction management, implementation of outside plant and inside plant, and underground and aerial construction. The parent company of Henkels & McCoy Inc., HMI Services, and H&M Shared Services, HMG has more than 50 offices across the country, employing more than 5,000 highly skilled professionals. HMG supports municipalities and utility customers, as well as government agencies, educational and health care facilities. The company has been recognized with an E.I. DuPont Safety Excellence Award and is a founding member of the Electrical Transmission & Distribution Partnership. The firm is ready with the expertise and resources to connect U.S. homes with dependable internet connectivity at the speed of light.
Key Products: Residential, commercial and municipal high-speed data; network management; Wi-Fi solutions; security; whole unit/home automation; digital voice and HD IPTV video services
Summary: Hotwire Communications, founded in 2000, is one of the largest and oldest independent providers of fiber-to-the-premises communications solutions in the U.S. It began using 100 percent fiber optics for all new projects in 2002 and delivering fiber to the home and IPTV in 2006. It provides services to private residential communities, condominiums, apartments, hotels, multi-tenant commercial buildings, government buildings, student housing and senior and assisted living facilities. Hotwire Communications operations now include a majority of the Northern and Southeastern U.S., including Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey and Ohio, and new states are added to the company’s growing network annually. Hotwire fully owns its fully redundant fiber backbone network, which is monitored year-round. The company designs, builds and operates telecommunications and in-home entertainment services as a competitive local exchange carrier and franchised cable operator under its Fision brand. Residential services include ultra-high-speed data, HD IPTV, VoIP and advanced home automation solutions.
In 2014, Hotwire became the first residential gigabit internet provider in Florida. Last year, it provided a 10 Gbps symmetrical connection to the Fontainebleau Miami Beach – one of the fastest hotel connections in the world. It completed a 10 Gbps network (scalable to 100 Gbps) for the Miami Beach Convention Center and was selected to operate the municipal fiber optic network in Salisbury, North Carolina. Already operating in more than 600 communities, it announced a partnership and new investment from Blackstone Tactical Opportunities and Blackstone Infrastructure Partners this spring, pledging aggressive new deployments throughout the country. In 2020, Hotwire launched the Empowering Communities Foundation, a charitable arm of the company committed to bringing broadband internet services to underserved communities. Hotwire Communications is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
InfiniSys Multifamily Technology
Key Products: Telecommunications network design for multifamily buildings, technology amenity engineering
Summary: Since 1990, MDU owners have called on InfiniSys, a company that focuses on building multifamily electronic architectures, to differentiate their communities. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, the firm represents developers and property owners in negotiations with service providers and low-voltage contractors nationwide and oversees projects for financial stakeholders. As an independent technology consultant and developer, InfiniSys creates comprehensive, standards-based amenity solutions that include IoT, entertainment, access control, video surveillance, digital signage and messaging, energy management and leisure-space control systems for new and existing apartments, condominiums, student housing, senior housing, hotels, mixed-use developments and master-planned communities. The thousands of projects InfiniSys has undertaken since its inception (more than 500,000 living units) have garnered many awards for forward-thinking solutions and exceptional customer support. InfiniSys works with electronics and infrastructure manufacturers, software developers and public and private service providers to create new products and service offerings, including IoT solutions. It developed and successfully trademarked both the NetworkedApartment and SmartApartment design brands.
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Key Products: Broadband policy research and municipal broadband advocacy
Summary: The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has a vision of thriving, diverse, equitable communities. It builds local power to fight corporate control and partners with allies across the country to build an American economy driven by local priorities that is accountable to people and the planet. The Community Broadband Networks Initiative focuses on local policies that can ensure fast, affordable, reliable internet access for everyone. It runs MuniNetworks.org, an important source of information and analysis about local solutions with a focus on municipal and cooperative ownership structures. ILSR’s publications, including its MuniNetworks.org blog, toolkit and weekly podcast that covers broadband and more (Community Broadband Bits and Connect This! on Apple Podcasts and elsewhere) have been instrumental in showing communities that controlling their broadband destinies is feasible and has the potential to improve local economies and quality of life. In cooperation with NEO Partners, ILSR has a service called the Community Network Quickstart Program (https://cnquickstart.com) for communities considering deploying or extending their broadband networks. The idea is to provide communities with realistic options, costs and basic background information for a variety of deployment options, including fiber and wireless. The program is not meant to replace consulting and engineering studies but offers a basis for considering whether to apply for grants or fund a more detailed look.
Key Products: Service provider negotiations, financial feasibility plans, fiber infrastructure design, consultation, situation analysis
Summary: Founded in 1998, Inteleconnect develops telecommunications strategies for municipalities; colleges and universities; mixed-use developments and small, medium and large businesses. The company designs and manages service-provider-neutral networks (it designed, implemented and works with CLight, a dark fiber network in South Bend, Indiana); negotiates in-building distributed antenna systems for such institutions as Clemson University, Nemours Children’s Hospital and Lake Nona Medical City; and negotiates telecommunications service contracts to enable advanced internet, cable TV and telephone networks. Projects include mixed-use developments, such as Avalon in Alpharetta, Georgia; Lake Nona Medical City in Orlando, Florida; Mission Valley in San Diego; and Playa Vista in Los Angeles.
Key Products: Geospatial software that supports enterprise sales, planning, design, construction and maintenance processes for telecom and utility network operators
Summary: IQGeo partners with telecoms and utility network operators to deploy enterprise-side geospatial solutions that improve operational productivity and collaborations. The company has a cloud/mobile-first software strategy that is moving it toward an SaaS model. Recently, the company released Network Manager and Workflow Manager plus the 6.0 IQGeo platform. IQGeo’s transition to a subscription-based revenue model saw significant progress in 2020, with more than 90 percent of software orders using subscription pricing. In December 2020, IQGeo completed its acquisition of OSPInsight International, a company offering fiber planning and design software solution for the telecom market. The acquisition brought IQGeo a new market of smaller Tier-3, Tier-4 and private network operators, such as universities, and a customer base of more than 200 fiber network operators. Headquartered in Cambridge, England, IQGeo posted revenue of $12.6 million in 2020, up from $10.8 million in 2019. With 50,000 active users and more than 260 telecom and utility customers, IQGeo markets its products in North America, Europe and Japan.
“There come times in our lives where big ideas and innovation is needed, far beyond what we have accomplished as stand-alone contributors or companies. Where our endeavors up until now will no longer yield the results needed to bridge the digital divide. We are now at that time, and the way to get this done is to innovate together, collaborate openly, and challenge each other’s ideas so that when it is done, we can look back and be truly proud of achieving what we thought originally was not possible.”
– Paul Sulisz, CEO, Biarri Networks
Keller and Heckman
Key Products: Legal services, public policy advocacy
Summary: Keller and Heckman is an international law firm with a broad practice in regulatory law, public policy and litigation. From offices in Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Paris; Brussels and Shanghai, it represents global companies and trade associations servicing a range of industries, including telecommunications. Keller and Heckman is a pioneer in the use of interdisciplinary approaches to solving problems and has an in-house scientific staff that works closely with the attorneys on matters of technical complexity. Baller Stokes & Lide merged into Keller and Heckman in 2020, adding its long, consistent record of supporting the use of advanced broadband to drive the development of economically strong local communities. The firm represents public and private entities in a broad range of wired and (increasingly) wireless communications matters, both nationally and in more than 40 states. For the last two decades, the Baller firm has worked on many leading public and public-private communications projects in the U.S. and has participated in most of the federal- and state-level battles involving restrictions on local internet choice. As founder and president of the U.S. Broadband Coalition, Jim Baller played a leading role in forging a national consensus on the need for a national broadband strategy and on the framework for such a strategy. He is co-founder and president of the 600-member Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC), which works to preserve and protect the right of local governments to make the critical broadband infrastructure decisions that will affect their communities for decades to come.
Key Products: Equipment for wireline and wireless networks; inventory management, logistics, site development, sourcing, supply chain management
Summary: Founded in 1973, KGPCo provides network transformation and supply chain solutions for the communications industry in U.S. and Canadian markets. The company enables customers to build, optimize and transform their networks by providing a single brand to deliver a complement of network solutions. The largest communications product distribution and service solution provider in the U.S., KGPCo combines a suite of technical strategy and implementation services with a global logistics network and a portfolio of technology partnerships. The company’s Solution Innovation Center evaluates, designs and engineers cloud, virtualization and disaggregated solutions developed and operationalized in the live network environment. KGPCo is headquartered in Faribault, Minnesota.
Last Mile Communications
Key Products: Management partnering, consulting and capital-funding services
Summary: Last Mile Communications (LMC), an international telecommunications management partnering and consulting firm, offers telecom and cable customers experience across technology, sales and marketing, customer relations, finance and accounting, government and investor relations, business administration, programmer and vendor relations, and executive-level management. Among its top telecom and cable clients are Altice USA, Comporium, C Spire, Liberty Global, Lumen and TDS Telecom. It also works directly with several high-profile investment and banking firms, including AIG, Argus Capital, Deutsche Bank, M/C Partners, Moorgate Securities, Morgan Stanley and UBS. LMC offers three service lines: management partnering, consulting and capital funding. LMC personnel manage the delivery of broadband services, data management and mobile communications. The company’s consulting arm specializes in providing hands-on industry expertise to private-equity investors, investment banks, institutional investors, broadband operators and telcos. It can also raise capital to start, and continue and enhance the growth of broadband and telecommunications opportunities.
Several of LMC’s clients have actively expanded their networks via acquisitions and targeted fiber builds throughout 2020. LMC provided technical and operations diligence and advisory services to Boston Omaha Corporation (BOC), M/C Partners and Moorgate Securities. One of its most active partners was M/C Partners, which acquired three fiber and broadband wireless properties in 2020: Bel Air Internet (BAI), AerioConnect and Metro Fiber. By combining BAI with AerioConnect and Metro Fiber’s assets, M/C will create one of the largest ISPs focused on multifamily residential customers in the greater Los Angeles market. The company also provided technical and operations diligence and advisory services to BOC, which acquired Utah Broadband, a family-owned broadband fiber and fixed wireless internet service provider that offers services to 10,000 customers throughout Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, Provo and surrounding Utah communities. Another notable deal was Altice USA’s acquisition of Morris Broadband. LMC’s client, Moorgate Securities, acted as financial advisor to Morris Broadband. Outside the U.S., LMC completed its broadband services analysis review project for Fortress Investment Group Japan GK, headquartered in Tokyo. The project entailed a broadband operational and technical review of a managed network operating in more than 36,000 properties serving more than 570,000 apartment units spread throughout Japan. To date, LMC has served clients in more than 50 countries. With operational headquarters in Newtown, Connecticut, Last Mile Connections has satellite headquarters in London, England, and Bucharest, Romania.
Lumos Networks / NorthState
Key Products: High-speed residential and business-class broadband internet, managed Wi-Fi, digital television and digital voice services
Summary: Lumos Networks/NorthState is a fiber-based ILEC and part of Segra, one of the largest independent fiber bandwidth companies in the U.S. As part of Segra’s sale of its commercial business to Cox Communications, EQT Infrastructure retains ownership of the Lumos Networks and NorthState residential and small to medium-size business operations and support it as a stand-alone company. In late 2019, Segra acquired NorthState, a provider of high-speed bandwidth services in the fast-growing Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina. The telco has provided integrated telecommunications services to rural Virginia markets since 1897, and the portfolio includes high-speed residential and business-class broadband internet, digital television, digital telephone and managed Wi-Fi services. Local, professional customer care supports the full suite of services.
An early FTTH and IPTV pioneer, Lumos was the first in its markets to provide high-definition IPTV services and the first to reach 20 Mbps broadband speed, which it followed with its 1 Gbps service. More than half the company’s ILEC network is now fiber-based. In addition to offering 1 Gbps services, Lumos recently doubled the speeds in its Essential and Premium broadband internet service packages. Customers who choose the Essentials package get 150 Mbps download speed, and the Premium package now supports 300 Mbps.
Following the debut of its symmetrical gigabit broadband services, Lumos adopted ADTRAN’s 10G fiber-access portfolio to deploy networkwide 10 Gbps fiber service for business customers. Initially, Lumos will offer tiered symmetrical speed profiles of 2, 4 and 8 Gbps and plans to increase speed profiles on the same ADTRAN platform. Lumos provides FTTH service both within the ILEC territory and strategically in areas outside the ILEC, where it has captured many MDUs, commercial businesses and mixed-use developments. In January 2021, the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative awarded a grant of $1.4 million to Lumos and Boteourt County to expand fiber in the county. The project will bring high-speed internet to 548 new addresses, including 30 businesses. Lumos also expanded its fiber network to an additional 900 homes in Covington, Virginia. As the COVID-19 crisis drove more people and students to conduct work and learning in their homes, Lumos enhanced current customer download speeds by three times to 75 Mbps on its Basic 25 Mbps Fiber Internet package. There is no charge for the higher bandwidth tier, and customers are automatically upgraded.
“We stand at a point of true digital transformation, which will redefine our daily lives. Optical fiber stands at the foundation, and only through a deep, dense fiber infrastructure can we achieve the symmetrical gigabit broadband necessary to enable remote work, e-learning, telehealth and so much more.”
– Seán Adam, vice president, market strategy and innovation, AFL
Key Product: Municipal fiber network provider
Summary: LUS Fiber is a municipal fiber network owned and operated by Lafayette, Louisiana, as a public utility. The network delivers internet, phone and TV at speeds up to 10 Gbps to businesses and residents in the greater Lafayette area. Recently, LUS Fiber expanded its services into Carencro, a Lafayette suburb, as a part of an ongoing effort to bring fiber to every city in Lafayette Parish. In February 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration in partnership with the Acadiana Planning Commission awarded LUS Fiber a $3.1 million grant. It will fund the expansion of LUS Fiber’s network in Lafayette, St. Martin and Iberia parishes, allowing the construction of 47 miles of fiber backbone along Highway 90 between Lafayette and Iberia parishes. LUS Fiber is also participating in the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to help lower the cost of high-speed internet for eligible households in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible LUS Fiber customers can reduce their monthly home internet bills up to $50 per month.
Key Products: Broadband and telecom planning, deployment and management services
Summary: Headquartered in Denver, Magellan Advisors offers services from project inception and engineering to implementation and continuing operations. Magellan helps communities (including tribal communities) identify opportunities, value assets, and negotiate and forge public-private and public-public partnerships. Services include smart-city consulting, comprehensive community broadband planning, fiber master planning, financial planning, funds sourcing, business modeling, design engineering, telecommunications master planning, and deployment and project management for governments, municipal utilities, electric cooperatives and private organizations. Magellan’s portfolio includes more than 400 engagements for city, county, state, federal and private broadband projects. Clients range from national, regional and tribal governments to new, master-planned communities, large cities and small rural communities.
Recent projects include a regional broadband plan for the Northern Arizona Council of Governments Economic and Workforce Development; broadband engineering planning for the Ewiiaapaayp group of Kumeyaay Indians in San Diego County, California; strategic planning for expanding broadband throughout the Marin County region, in partnership with the South Bay Cities Council of Governments and American Dark Fiber; connecting the 40 schools in the Hillsboro School District in Colorado with gigabit fiber; conducting a broadband feasibility study for Skykomish, Washington; and conducting a statewide fiber engineering study and cost estimates used by Vermont’s Department of Public Service to propose up to $300 million of statewide grants and subsidies to bring high-speed internet to rural Vermont. Magellan’s projects have led to more than $1 billion of investments in broadband networks that connect more than 1,000 schools, hospitals, libraries and government facilities and pass nearly 1 million homes and businesses with fiber and wireless broadband services.
Key Products: Software for visual operations, workforce management and service assurance
Summary: Mapcom Systems offers a visualization-based approach to FTTH operations and management. Its M4 Solutions Suite encompasses the FTTH life cycle from PON or active network design and feasibility analysis through day-to-day plant/facility assignment and network maintenance and management. It maps both outside and inside plant at physical and logical levels. Providers use the M4 Solutions Suite to model their networks and service areas, integrating and correlating data from billing, accounting, GPS tracking, element management, network monitoring and vehicle-tracking applications in a visual interface. Using the suite in conjunction with M4 Workforce and M4 Process Manager technology, staff can communicate via mobile devices to handle trouble tickets, service orders, field locations and permitting. This year, Beacon Broadband and SEI Fiber began implementing Mapcom’s M4 Solutions Suite, and Ritter Communications chose M4 as its broadband network system of record.
In 2020, Mapcom clients received more than $80 million in a second round of broadband funding from the USDA’s ReConnect Loan and Grant Program. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, with a staff of more than 100, Mapcom has worked since 1971 with independents, cooperatives, fiber communities and campus telecommunications providers across the U.S., Canada, Central America, the Caribbean and Africa.
MasTec North America
Key Products: FTTx deployment, outside-plant cabling, engineering, inside-plant construction and installation, joint trench systems, splicing, testing, systems integration, fulfillment, maintenance
Summary: MasTec provides engineering, design, construction and maintenance services for wireline and wireless communications infrastructure, including cell tower construction, fiber optic cable installation, wireline construction and emergency maintenance services across the country. The company enhanced its workforce to meet ongoing last-mile FTTH and upcoming 5G wireless demands. MasTec’s fiber business focuses on two initiatives: deploying high-speed services to homes mainly through fiber and building fiber backbones to support wireless backhaul and fronthaul services in anticipation of upcoming 5G network builds. Having seen what it says is “considerable backlog related to this initiative,” MasTec expects significant growth in these areas as it goes from early-stage engineering into construction. Headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida, MasTec can supply crews and equipment to its customers 24/7. The company, which has nearly 22,000 employees, reported 2020 revenue of $6.3 billion.
“The last year has made it clear that access to high-speed internet has the power to change lives and communities, and that rural Americans have been caught on the wrong side of the digital divide. Electric cooperatives, with their commitment to make life better for those they serve, and their ability to deliver world-class fiber broadband affordably, hold the key to creating long-overdue broadband equality for those in rural communities.”
– Randy Klindt, partner, Conexon
Michels Power, Inc.
Key Products: Fiber optic network construction, including outside-plant construction, structured cabling and fiber splicing and testing
Summary: In 1983, family-owned Michels, based in Brownsville, Wisconsin, became one of the first companies to construct fiber lines. Today, Michels Power, Inc., one of the Michels Family of Companies, builds thousands of miles of fiber optic and broadband networks each year. Michels is a full-service construction company with clients that include oil and gas, other utilities and more. It serves all sectors of the communications industry – local telephone companies, broadband and cable TV providers, schools and enterprises. The company’s construction design and management services include all phases of inside- and outside-plant engineering, including plowing, trenching, splicing, terminating, testing, constructing aerial lines, directional boring, rail plowing, installing cable, conducting site work and providing FTTx solutions. In addition, it assists clients with forecasting growth, verifying existing facilities, investigating potential migration strategies and estimating costs of numerous deployment options. For 2020, Michels ranked 28th on Engineering News-Record’s annual Top 400 Contractors list – the 16th year it has placed in the top 100. Last year, the company billed $3 billion in all lines of business. Michels has 8,000 employees and more than 40 regional offices throughout the U.S..
Key Product: Communications engineering services
Summary: Mid-State Consultants (MSC) provides communications engineering services for telephone, data and video networks. MSC services a broad clientele, including local exchange carriers, RBOCs, interexchange carriers, competitive access providers, ISPs, cellular operators, communities, utilities and CATV operators. Services include design and project management for FTTH projects as well as CAD/GIS mapping, conversion and construction supervision, growth forecasting, verification of existing facilities, investigation of potential migration strategies and cost estimates. The company is headquartered in Nephi, Utah, and has seven regional offices throughout the U.S.
Key Products: Fiber distribution and cable management solutions, connectors, splice enclosures and cabinets; MDU enclosures; raceway and pathway solutions
Summary: A manufacturer of telecommunications network components, Multilink, founded in 1983, focuses on fiber-management solutions. Multilink’s customers include independent telcos, RBOCs, utilities, local area network providers and cable MSOs. Its products are designed to meet the needs of both legacy plant and new technology applications. The company’s engineering staff works closely with customers to develop innovative designs and application-oriented products to provide cost-effective solutions. Recent product introductions include the Surelight H-IP, a fiber optic drop-cable solution with a field-installable application that has an OptiTap-compatible connector. In 2019, Multilink was granted new patents for fiber optic drop-cable assembly and preconnectorized cable assembly. In 2020, it introduced a new fiber optical terminal connect closure. Based in Elyria, Ohio, Multilink is a partner in Elyria Works Now, a public/private program to train local residents for high-paying manufacturing jobs. Multilink is privately owned and has 200 employees.
Key Products: Consulting, feasibility studies, grants and funding advice; design and engineering services
Summary: NEO Connect advises clients about grant and funding opportunities, acquisitions, consulting, feasibility studies and engineering services for broadband networks. Working with more than 200 local-government clients across the U.S. and Canada, it has a track record for improving broadband and building smart-city networks, allowing communities to create resilient platforms for economic development and infrastructure projects. Notable projects last year included working with DMEA, an electric cooperative serving Colorado’s Delta and Montrose counties, to build gigabit fiber (NEO wrote the grant application and coordinated all financing efforts for $2.2 million from the state); identifying more than a dozen potential new community and state partnerships for the network NEO originally designed for Denver’s school district; and writing a feasibility study and broadband plan for a joint project for Greeley and Windsor, Colorado, surrounded by larger cities already implementing gigabit strategies. Over the past few years, NEO has helped close acquisitions and investments that totaled more than $135 million in funding for three service providers. Founder and CEO Diane Kruse has 25 years of experience in the broadband industry and has served as board chair of the Fiber to the Home Council (now Fiber Broadband Association).
“Although 2020 was an unprecedented year, it changed the way the world thinks about broadband and energy. COVID-19 presented many challenges and an opportunity to bring awareness to the digital divide.”
– Mike Boehne, president and CEO, Finley
Key Products: Internet, video, voice, mobile, home security and business services
Summary: Nex-Tech was an early FTTP pioneer with its first fiber build in Hill City, Kansas, in 1996. Initially launched as the CLEC subsidiary of Rural Telephone Cooperative, the parent company eventually took Nex-Tech as its name. Since then, Nex-Tech has deployed fiber to more than 60 rural communities and underserved areas in Kansas. The telco continues to expand its network in rural areas of Kansas and is currently building FTTP in Great Bend, Kansas. Over its FTTP network, Nex-Tech delivers up to 1 Gbps internet speeds, streaming TV, home security, and local and long-distance phone service. The telco also provides business solutions, including cloud services, cloud phone, network security, managed IT, physical security and surveillance, advertising solutions and network operations monitoring. Nex-Tech supports customers with stores in more than 20 locations, a full-service help desk and a 24-hour Network Operations Center. By acquiring Cordell in 2019, Nex-Tech gained a suite of network solutions for alarms management, engineering and network operations management.
Recently Nex-Tech received two funding grants that allowed it to make acquisitions and expand high-speed broadband access in rural Kansas. In October 2020, the company was awarded $800,000 in SPARKS relief funding from the Kansas Department of Commerce. In March 2021, Nex-Tech received an $874,000 Broadband Access Grant (BAG) from the Kansas Department of Commerce, which is being used to expand high-speed internet access in rural areas of Kansas. The BAG grant also was used to acquire Vic Innovations, which provides internet, voice services and web hosting in the Kansas towns of Atwood, McDonald and Bird City and in surrounding rural areas. Many rural Kansas counties will continue to benefit from these grants. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nex-Tech launched a Continuous Learning Initiative that works with schools to provide connectivity to unserved students learning at home. Headquartered in Lenora, Kansas, Nex-Tech has delivered service for more than 70 years.
Nokia / Nokia Networks
Key Products: Wireline and wireless network equipment, software for network management, IoT technology, cloud solutions
Summary: Nokia, headquartered in Espoo, Finland, is a major wireless and wireline network equipment provider. It has a global presence with operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, North America, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. The company is organized into four business groups structured around customer offerings: Mobile Networks, Network Infrastructure, Cloud and Network Services and Nokia Technologies. The fixed networks business is part of its Network Infrastructure group and includes fiber, fixed wireless access and xDSL upgrades. In 2020, Nokia introduced the industry’s first 25G PON technology. However, it also remains a market leader in copper technologies, such as VDSL and G.fast, and has taken a leading position in the growing 4G and 5G fixed wireless access market, with more than 90 trials and 37 deployments. Its Quillion chipset powers next-generation fiber and copper solutions and has more than 100 customers.
Many providers use Nokia technology to deliver 10 Gbps fiber services. Nokia is one of the few equipment suppliers handling wireless and fiber broadband equipment. On the wireless side in the U.S., it is exploiting the Tribal Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum at 117 Mhz, made available in 2020 by the FCC, extending near-5G private wireless to parts of North and South Dakota, Oklahoma and California in partnership with NewCore Wireless. It also is building a huge network covering farms in two states in India. Operating in about 200 countries, Nokia closed 2020 with net revenue of about $24 billion. It averaged about 90,000 employees in 2020, with an annual R&D budget of about $4.5 billion and R&D facilities in Europe, North America and Asia.
888-342-3743 (inside the U.S.);
770-798-5555 (outside the U.S.)
Key Products: Optical fiber, optical fiber cable, fusion splicers, fiber management and connectivity products, network design services
Summary: OFS’s heritage, which can be traced to the original Bell Labs, includes research and development in fiber optics. Wholly owned by Furukawa Electric of Japan, OFS designs, manufactures and supplies optical fiber, fiber cable, specialty photonics and optical connectivity technology, providing solutions for outside- and inside-plant networks. In 2019, it doubled its fiber manufacturing capacity to meet strong demand from customers rolling out FTTH and 5G networks. The Furukawa Electric board approved $150 million in capital spending for further production expansion, primarily in the U.S. and Europe through OFS. Products include EZ-Bend ultra-bend-insensitive (minimum 2.5 mm bend radius) optical cables and InvisiLight solutions for nearly invisible in-MDU and in-home fiber deployments; the latest version, introduced in 2020, uses 0.6 mm fiber strands.
OFS introduced its first hollow-fiber cable for low-latency, high-speed communications early in 2020. It also introduced Rollable Ribbon cables, assemblies and new connectivity solutions for MDU and SFU applications. Its 6912-strand high-density cable, introduced in August 2020, can be deployed in conduit only 1.25 inches in diameter – and even smaller in some data center applications. The OFS professional services group designs and builds FTTx networks for MDU and SFU applications. Headquartered near Atlanta, OFS has facilities in North America, Europe and Africa. For the fiscal year ending March 2021, Furukawa Electric had $7.4 billion in revenue – almost $1.5 billion was for fiber and associated products. The company had 50,000 employees worldwide as of March 2020.
“With extensive deployments underway, successful communications networks need forward-looking products and services that will enhance and contribute to the future-proofing of critical infrastructure networks.”
– Dan Levac, national sales manager for communications markets, Preformed Line Products (PLP)
Key Products: FTTx consulting, design, installation and splicing services
Summary: Based in eastern Tennessee, On Trac has a nationwide footprint and has provided broadband fulfillment services and partnered with FTTx deployments for local municipal electric companies, electric cooperatives, private fiber deployments, fiber optic construction companies and private businesses for the past 17 years. To date, the company services 1 million FTTx addresses in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas. On Trac also created a Mobile Work Force Management Solution designed for field operators. The software was developed over the past 10 years to help companies manage field technicians who install and maintain FTTx. The company can also manage complex FTTx installations that require specialized processes, from underground construction to aerial and underground drops and completing premises and business installation and testing. As a Google Fiber installer, On Trac is always looking for top talent. The company places a premium on its culture and core values and focuses on recruiting and hiring people from outside the telecom industry.
Key Products: Outside-plant engineering, planning and design; project management; feasibility studies; consulting services; quality assurance; construction
Summary: ONUG Communications is approaching its 22nd year as a national engineering and design firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. Over the years, ONUG has expanded its role with major clients such as Google Fiber, AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon. Beyond working with these national providers, ONUG works with various projects for regional telcos, rural ILECs, campuses, retirement communities, local/state utilities, electrical co-ops and municipalities, such as Sherwood, Oregon. The services ONUG provides include feasibility studies, designs, overall plans and help navigating federal and state FTTH grant processes. In 2019, ONUG planned projects that passed 100,000 homes with FTTH services and created more than 20,000 innovative designs that include microtrenching in urban and rural environments and pioneering designs such as soft-scape (minimal depth and intrusion) and “no-terminal” designs.
ONUG also developed fiber optic planning, small-cell predictive planning and cellular data mining and consulted on middle-mile projects, bringing fiber to unreached areas by utilizing major interstates and highways for FTTx distribution by ISPs. ONUG’s partnership with Biarri Networks supports optimal efficiency in the design of FTTx, reducing cost and increasing speed of delivery. Daniel Huffman, ONUG owner and president, has provided fiber optic training across the country for years through his partnership with Light Brigade.
Key Products: Internet, video and voice services
Summary: For more than a century, the OTELCO family of companies has provided rural communities with cutting-edge technology – first with the telephone in the late 1800s and today with broadband internet for residential and business customers. The company’s footprint spans seven states – Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia – in three distinctly different rural regions of the U.S. In 2019, OTELCO invested $12.4 million to expand its fiber distribution network and improve its broadband capabilities. Last year, the company received funding from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Broadband Accessibility Fund to build fiber to the premises in Morgan City.
OTELCO is in the process of upgrading its network in Gray and New Gloucester, Maine, which includes the construction of approximately 150 miles of FTTP network in portions of both towns. The company also announced that gigabit service is now available to all Lightwave fiber–eligible locations in Alabama. These network upgrades make gigabit service available to approximately 8,000 locations in northern Alabama. In addition, a DOCSIS 3.0 plant upgrade resulted in approximately 6,000 cable network locations in Oneonta and Altoona, Alabama, receiving access to faster speeds. This year, Oak Hill Capital, a private equity firm, completed its acquisition of OTELCO for approximately $40.6 million. OTELCO’s revenue for 2020 was $62 million.
Key Products: Internet, voice and IPTV video services for cities, MDUs, businesses and homes
Summary: Pavlov Media is a leading network provider that designs, builds, operates and supports high-speed networks for MDUs, businesses, homes and cities. Founded in 1994, Pavlov Media is the nation’s largest private provider of broadband services to off-campus student housing communities and other multifamily apartments. It builds and runs networks for more than 750 MDU properties in 44 states and Canada. Pavlov Media works directly with communities on municipal fiber projects to build and manage gigabit cities. More than 325,000 residents use the Pavlov Media network, connected to the company’s 100 Gbps national fiber backbone, which includes a new 100 Gbps link between Chicago and Indianapolis and a data center in Orlando. In response to the pandemic, Pavlov Media upgraded school network connections to 10 Gbps to help teachers, staff and students meet online demands.
Pavlov Media is a full-service network provider, and staff directly manage all aspects of its fiber optic connections to homes, businesses and communities. Its new headquarters in Champaign, Illinois, is home to engineers who design the networks and drill operators, field technicians and installers who wire buildings. The network operations center and customer support are there as well. Pavlov Media has a strong history of business expansion through organic acquisitions and stable investments, including acquiring Simplified Technologies and Tallahassee-based Velocity Online in 2020 and Texas provider Clarus Broadband in 2021, all expanding its presence in the MDU, business and home fiber markets.
Power & Tel
Key Products: Fiber optic and cable products, optical networking electronics, test gear, IPTV, home networking solutions
Summary: Power & Tel specializes in the procurement, sales and logistics of communications products. By cost-effectively and efficiently managing the supply chain, Power & Tel lets its customers – service providers, contractors and other entities large enough to maintain communications networks – focus on building and maintaining fiber networks. The company also provides materials-management services that use state-of-the-art distribution technology to accommodate the industry’s rapidly changing supply needs. Recently, Power & Tel and Geneva-based ADB, a provider of end-to-end TV solutions, signed a master distribution agreement for the Americas. As a member of CommScope’s PartnerPRO Network, Power & Tel joined Graybar as the two companies in charge of order fulfillment for the Wyandotte (Michigan) Municipal Services fiber conversion project. Founded in 1963 and privately owned, Power & Tel recently moved into new, 250,000-square-foot headquarters in Piperton, Tennessee, and has locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
PPC Broadband Inc. – A Belden Brand
Key Products: Fiber cable, microduct, enclosures, cabinets, optical passives, optical splitters, fiber test equipment
Summary: PPC offers fiber products for the headend, outside plant and premises. The company’s FTTH and broadband solutions are used globally in cable systems, satellite networks and wireless businesses. PPC continues to expand its fiber product road map while holding more patents in connector technology than any other company worldwide. In recent years, PPC has expanded its product portfolio through strategic acquisitions. In 2018, PPC’s fiber unit grew to include optical passive products acquired through the purchase of Net-Tech Technology. In 2019, PPC acquired the FutureLink line of fiber products from Suttle; subsequently purchased OPTERNA, a global manufacturer of fiber solutions; and bought SPC, a U.S.-based manufacturer of integrated fiber enclosures. PPC Broadband is a wholly owned subsidiary of Belden and is headquartered in East Syracuse, New York, with locations in China, Denmark, Germany, India, Ireland, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, St. Kitts, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K. and the U.S.
“We expect that the growth of a remote workforce and its impact on bandwidth consumption will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumption also will be increased by the ongoing migration from traditional video to over-the-top services, the prevalence of new technologies, such as virtual and augmented realities, and cloud-based gaming.”
– Olivier Bojarski, president, PPC Broadband
Preformed Line Products
Key Products: Fiber optic and copper splice closures, high-speed cross-connect devices, cable anchoring, control hardware systems and asset inspections
Summary: Preformed Line Products (PLP) is a worldwide designer, manufacturer and supplier of high-quality products and systems used to construct and maintain overhead and underground networks for the communication and energy industries. Its communications segment is trusted to protect critical connections for telecommunications network operators, government agencies and broadband service providers, among others. PLP offers innovative communications products and services, including the COYOTE line of fiber optic closures, FIBERLIGN hardware solutions and comprehensive, drone-based asset inspections. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, PLP was founded in 1947 and has grown into a global corporation with offices and manufacturing facilities in more than 20 countries. Net sales for 2020 were $466 million.
Key Products: Optical fiber and telecommunications cables
Summary: With almost 140 years of experience, sales of more than $13 billion and nearly 29,000 employees in more than 50 countries and 112 plants, Prysmian Group offers a wide range of products, services, technologies and know-how. Prysmian manufactures cables and accessories for voice, video and data transmission, offering a range of optical fibers, optical and copper cables and connectivity systems. In addition, it provides underground and submarine cables and systems for power transmission and distribution, special cables for applications in several industries and medium- and low-voltage cables for the construction and infrastructure sectors. In 2019, Prysmian debuted its 6,912-fiber MassLink Cable with FlexRibbon technology. Ribbons are rolled up and packed together in small-diameter sub-units but still provide the advantages of mass fusion splicing. This year, the company released ezMicroduct, its smallest microduct cable with 288 fibers and an outer diameter of 8 mm.
The vendor was selected by the Mexican-government run Comisión Federal de Electricidad in 2020 to connect remote regions with high-speed broadband. Prysmian also supplies 770 km of submarine telecom cables for the Norte Conectado project awarded by Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa, a Brazilian internet provider connecting the city of Macapá to Santarém and Alenquer, which are in the north of the Amazon region. Through this strategy, Prysmian directly enables connectivity across 59 municipalities in northern Brazil, with the possibility to extend it to other Amazonian countries. It also continues to drive fiber innovations. In January, Prysmian joined Nokia Bell Labs and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology to demonstrate 1 petabit per second transmission over an optical fiber with standard dimensions. Prysmian is headquartered in Milan, Italy.
Key Products: Fiber internet, voice and TV services
Summary: Leveraging the fiber network and infrastructure from its parent company, Lumen Technologies, Quantum Fiber delivers symmetrical, subscription-based fiber internet solutions and services to residences and small businesses. In September of 2020, CenturyLink rebranded under three separate entities: Lumen Technologies, CenturyLink and Quantum Fiber. CenturyLink is the legacy telecom business and Quantum Fiber is a fully digital service, marketing fiber broadband services to customers in metro areas throughout the U.S., including Seattle, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, Omaha, Phoenix and Minneapolis. It recently expanded its fiber network in several other cities, including Boulder, Colorado, where it is completing a fiber construction project to bring homes and businesses 1 Gbps internet service. In Springfield, Missouri, Quantum Fiber will be the anchor tenant in a citywide broadband network called SpringNet. It will build and own the final drops to connect homes and businesses in that area and provide internet services to city residents.
Transforming from CenturyLink Fiber, the Quantum Fiber Connected Communities division will work with builders, developers and property owners ready to modernize their properties with fiber and accommodate future greenfield builds. The company works with MDU and SFH communities throughout the nation that are close to the Lumen fiber network. A key goal of the Quantum Fiber broadband expansion is to refresh its focus on the MDU segment and Instant Internet (formerly known as CenturyLink ON), its rapid-service-provisioning platform. Following an assessment, Quantum Fiber delivers service to MDU properties via Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or a combination of both, including propertywide Wi-Fi. Grand Central at the Junction, a new development in Wentzville, Missouri, is one MDU property taking advantage of Quantum Fiber’s broadband service. Headquartered in Monroe, Louisiana, Quantum Fiber’s parent company, Lumen, has about 39,000 employees and posted operating revenue of $20.7 billion in 2020.
Key Product: Network design and construction solutions
Summary: Render’s digital network construction platform enables telecommunications and utility network operators and construction teams to eliminate manual processes from construction and deploy the best possible fiber networks more efficiently than ever before. Using GIS and mobile and automation technologies, Render’s construction management platform transforms geospatial network designs into deliverable work and digitizes real-time data flows between the office and the field, delivering a new level of resource efficiency and project visibility.
The Render platform has delivered broadband connectivity to more than 300,000 U.S. households and businesses, with more than 700,000 completed construction tasks. Significant projects include the SpringNet FTTH network in Springfield, Missouri; open and dark fiber deployments in California; and FTTH networks in Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. Customers consistently experience up to 50 percent faster build times with a 30 percent reduction in field supervision and administration costs.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Render technology has enabled project administrators and construction teams across the country to navigate continuity risks and keep projects moving. This year, the company partnered with COS Systems to optimize the end-to-end delivery of fiber and wireless networks. It also partnered with Calix to offer Calix customers premium access to the unique digital construction platform. Render was founded in 2013. Its fast-growing team is headquartered in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and Melbourne, Australia.
“Fiber optic connectivity is key to enable cutting-edge research, deliver critical data, and extend access and collaboration capabilities. Health care and higher education rely on high-caliber communications for networking and IoT devices to enhance telehealth access and transform campus learning for the future.”
– Carmine Battafarano, president, HMI Services
Smithville Communications Inc. / Smithville
Key Products: High-speed internet, streaming TV, voice, cellular, home automation and security services, cloud services, IoT/big data support
Summary: Privately owned Smithville Communications, Indiana’s largest independent telecom company, has 205 employees and has built out fiber to homes and businesses for more than a decade. Key projects include Smithville’s symmetrical gigabit project, which is nearing completion in the city of Jasper. The company continues to expand its gigabit fiber operations in rural Ellettsville. Aided in part by Indiana’s rural Next Level Connections Broadband Grant program, Smithville also is bringing high-speed fiber connectivity to north-central Indiana near Sharpsville and an area of rural Monroe County. The Monroe County project is part of a larger initiative with the South Central Indiana Rural Electric Membership Cooperative (REMC) launched to accelerate the delivery of fiber internet to about 3,400 residents and businesses in the common service areas between the two companies. Allowing customers to use either provider, the project is expected to be completed by June 2023. These expansions are self-funded or funded through public-private partnerships.
Smithville continues to see residential growth through “best speed available” residential service offerings with no data caps. Citing increasing content costs and changing TV-user behaviors, Smithville replaced its multichannel linear TV packages with a streaming TV service and developed a partnership with DISH TV and Sling to provide additional options. The company also has been able to attract new telecom management talent, bringing in seasoned executives with national broadband experience. Smithville continues to upgrade its legacy copper areas with fiber to the cabinet to enhance speeds and capacity in rural areas. To help students and others impacted by COVID-19, Smithville opened free community Wi-Fi hot spots in Paoli, French Lick and other locations.
In August 2020, Smithville launched a $2.7 million rural gigabit network expansion in Tipton and Howard counties in rural Indiana, which will help farmers implement technology-based precision agriculture practices and allow new access to education and health care resources for the communities in general. In January 2021, Smithville launched a partnership with the Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC joint fiber construction project in Monroe County, Indiana. The first phase calls for passing 280 homes with fiber in a project that will include 800 homes when completed by the end of 2022. The project involves REMC customers’ receiving access to Smithville’s FTTH service and will benefit all concerned. A similar project between Smithville and South Central Indiana REMC brought fiber to 3,400 residents in Monroe and Owen counties in April.
Key Products: Gigabit internet access, voice service, co-location, business networking
Summary: Based in the North Bay, Sonic is the largest independent internet service provider in California and has delivered internet and phone service to homes and businesses for more than 25 years. Sonic was founded on the belief that access to fast, reliable, affordable internet should be available to all. It’s committed to building out a wholly owned gigabit fiber network while supporting the communities it serves. Its pricing is unusual – Sonic offers unlimited, uncapped, symmetrical gigabit fiber internet plus unlimited domestic and international home phone service starting at $40 per month. In tandem with its ongoing FTTH expansions, Sonic enhanced its product set by partnering with eero to improve whole-home Wi-Fi access.
After conducting buildouts in San Francisco and the East Bay, Sonic expanded its gigabit fiber service on the Monterey Peninsula. It also launched a big FTTH project in the North Bay, in Petaluma. The expansion enabled it to reach 19 new Bay Area cities and neighborhoods. This year, the Berkeley Unified School District, in collaboration with the Berkeley Public Schools Fund, announced a partnership with Sonic to provide free, high-speed, fiber optic internet access to students for the remainder of the school year. PCMag.com named Sonic one of the fastest ISPs of 2020.
Key Products: Premises and outside-plant fiber and copper cable products; FTTH enclosures
Summary: Superior Essex designs, manufactures and supplies a large selection of premises and outside-plant fiber optic, copper wire and cable products. The company supplies products to many of the largest service providers, and its cable products are installed in thousands of enterprises around the world. It recently introduced a line of cables for distributed antenna systems; introduced FTTH enclosures, including fiber distribution hubs; and redesigned families of fiber dome closures. Superior Essex has a co-development and marketing alliance with Legrand North America, a global specialist in electrical and digital building infrastructures, to create a suite of structured cabling systems, nCompass. The company recently launched PowerWise Category 5e cable, a 22-gauge communications data cable designed for internet-connected devices that utilize the Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard. Also new is EnduraLite indoor/outdoor loose-tube optical fiber cable. In early 2020, Superior Essex joined the Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSl), an organization focused on achieving social and environmental sustainability through technology.
In February 2020, Superior Essex and Legrand North America reaffirmed their nCompass partnership with a revamped website. In February 2021, the company solidified its dedication to sustainability by presenting a pre-conference master class during the BICSI Winter 2021 Conference. Titled “The World’s Focusing More Than Ever on Sustainability – Here’s Why RCDDs Should as Well,” the class covered how to spec and design intelligent buildings to meet new, stricter requirements. In March, Superior Essex became a corporate board member of the Continental Automated Buildings Association, strengthening its industry affiliations to continue growth in the telecommunications sector. Superior Essex is headquartered in Atlanta and has more than 3,000 employees. Its product development center is in Kennesaw, Georgia, and it has manufacturing facilities in Brownwood, Texas; Tarboro, North Carolina; and Hoisington, Kansas.
“It has become fashionable of late to reference the rural electrification movement of the 1930s and 1940s as a template for closing the digital divide in rural America. Cooperatives were built on a covenant – an echo of the original American covenant of ‘We, the People.’ Covenants bind people together and lift them all up. To truly follow the rural electrification model will require a new covenant.”
– Jonathan Chambers, partner, Conexon
Key Products: Internet access, phone and TV services
Summary: TDS Telecom delivers broadband internet and video and phone services to nearly 1,000 rural, suburban and metropolitan areas across the U.S. Powered by fiber and next-gen cable technology, TDS delivers up to 1 Gbps internet speeds and offers IP-based TV along with traditional phone services. The company offers FTTH in 78 communities and serves about 30 percent of its wireline service addresses with fiber. Fiber investments continue with plans to light up approximately 230,000 FTTH service addresses, of which about 50,000 were turned up in 2019. After acquiring Merrimac Communications, TDS Telecom launched FTTH services in 14 new Wisconsin markets, reaching more than 40,000 service addresses. In March, TDS received $1.3 million from the Wisconsin Broadband Expansion Grant Program, which will fund broadband projects in Mosinee and Stetsonville. Outside Wisconsin, TDS Telecom has been actively building out FTTH in several states, including Idaho, North Carolina, Utah and Washington. By acquiring Continuum, a North Carolina–based provider, TDS gained 36,500 new households passed by coax and fiber across four towns. Following its FTTH build in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, it launched plans to build a fiber network in the Meridian, Idaho, area to connect nearly 58,000 addresses. BendBroadband, a TDS cable subsidiary, began rolling out 1 Gbps services in La Pine and Bend, Oregon. This summer, TDS will launch 1 Gbps speeds in its Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Nevada coax territories.
In 2021, TDS expanded its network in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where more than 470 additional addresses can now receive up to 1 Gbps internet speeds, doubling its fiber footprint in Elkhorn. When completed, the project will reach another 3,000 addresses. The company also launched a gigabit fiber network in Spokane, Washington, and will continue expanding over the next several months. TDS also unveiled plans to expand its gigabit FTTH network to more than 26,000 homes and businesses across Boise, Idaho. May marked a major milestone for TDS when it reached 500,000 broadband subscribers, half of which receive 1 Gbps speeds. Headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, TDS Telecom employs nearly 2,900 people and is a subsidiary of Telephone and Data Systems Inc. Its operating revenue for 2020 was $976 million, up from $930 million in 2019.
The Broadband Group / TBG Network Services
Key Products: Telecommunications master planning, network design and engineering, financial modeling, construction management
Summary: The Broadband Group (TBG), a technology and telecommunications consulting firm, develops business plans, network specifications, engineering designs, financial models and deployment strategies for utilities, master-planned communities, municipalities and service providers that seek to facilitate or deliver broadband services. TBG’s wholly owned subsidiary, TBG Network Services (TBGNS), oversees construction management. In Huntsville, Alabama, TBGNS manages the Huntsville Utilities buildout of its 966-mile, citywide, dark fiber network. Current TBG projects include leading the fiber business plan development and deployment strategies for Ontario, California; Long Beach, California; and the Brambleton community in Loudoun County, Virginia. Large-scale, master-planned communities around the U.S. call on TBG to create technology master plans that position wired and wireless connectivity as differentiated amenities. TBG developed the utility lease model: Municipalities with fiber networks lease excess fiber to internet service providers, which in turn offer high-speed fiber broadband services citywide, handling marketing and customer service. This model has been put to work with CenturyLink for 100,000-plus homes in Springfield, Missouri, and Google Fiber in Huntsville, Alabama. Based in Las Vegas, with additional offices in Huntsville, Alabama, TBG was founded in 1997.
Key Products: Gigabit internet access, video service
Summary: Ting, a subsidiary of Tucows – a domain management service company – launched its FTTH business with a bang in December 2014 when it acquired Blue Ridge InternetWorks, a competitive fiber provider in Charlottesville, Virginia. Ting expanded its network across Charlottesville and continues to expand to small markets in new areas, often by partnering with municipalities. Ting currently provides fiber services to towns in California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia – nine fiber internet towns in all. As it rolls out service in each community, Ting educates local realtors on how fiber-based connectivity can drive up home values. It also conducts community outreach to encourage collaboration with local businesses and parent-teacher organizations. In April 2020, Ting began offering free fiber-fed Wi-Fi hot spots in its Ting internet towns to help people without internet connect during the COVID-19 crisis.
In 2021, Ting continues to roll out services in new communities, launching fiber internet in Rolesville, North Carolina, for residents and businesses. It also expanded its network in Idaho, bringing service to Dover and Kootenai. Another new market is Encinitas, California, where Ting will pass nearly 50,000 addresses in summer 2021, becoming the fourth Southern California Ting city along with Fullerton, Culver City and Solana Beach. In 2020, Ting brought on Jill Szuchmacher as chief strategy officer and executive vice president of networks. Formerly vice president of operations at Google Fiber, Szuchmacher was tapped to lead construction builds while guiding the transition from coax to fiber. With 800 employees, Ting reported 2020 revenue of $311 million, down from $337 million in 2019.
“We’ve never had a year that has both amazing opportunities to pay for the expansion of rural broadband coupled with challenges in the supply chain that will complicate attempts to build broadband quickly.”
– Doug Dawson, president, CCG Consulting
TVC Communications / MaxCell
888-644-6075 (TVC); 888-387-3828 (MaxCell)
Key Products: Broadband electronics, connectivity products, outside-plant hardware, test equipment, fabric innerduct, conduit technology
Summary: TVC Communications, a division of WESCO/Anixter, is a value-added distributor that stocks and same-day ships FTTx products and facilitates planning, launching and deploying fiber networks in broadband and utility markets. TVC provides supply-chain solutions for operators, utilities and municipalities launching fiber networks, including turnkey project development, materials management, financial modeling, marketing for increased awareness/take rate and project launch team and support.
The company’s brands include MaxCell, the flexible fabric innerduct that allows increased cable density in a conduit while preserving space for future bandwidth expansion. MaxCell’s unique fabric construction conforms to the cables placed within it, greatly reducing wasted space compared with rigid innerduct. Available in sizes to fit all conduits, MaxCell adds pathways quickly and is installed easily and cost-effectively. MaxSpace is a no-dig conduit space recovery solution designed to safely remove rigid innerduct from around active fiber cables with little to no load on the cable and no interruption of service. To expand capacity and preserve space for future bandwidth requirements, the company worked on a project in San Luis Obispo to remove existing innerduct using MaxSpace solution and replaced the existing innerduct with the space-saving flexible fabric MaxCell innerduct. This was done while keeping the current fiber active during the extraction. Last year, the company introduced MaxCell Premise for in-building and confined-space applications where the cable pathway is overly dense and space is at a premium.
Key Product: Open-access network services
Summary: Owned by 11 Utah cities, UTOPIA Fiber has been growing its network to keep pace with demand. Sign-ups grew 50 percent this year, with residential bandwidth increasing by 30 percent, fueled in part by pandemic-driven remote work and distance learning. With new cities coming aboard, UTOPIA’s financial arm, UIA, raised more than $100 million from investors keen to fund future-proof infrastructure. Making fiber available to more than 130,000 businesses and residences in more than 50 communities, UTOPIA Fiber has cemented itself as the largest, most successful open-access network in the U.S. and enjoys the industry’s highest customer satisfaction scores.
Since last year’s Top 100 list, the team at UTOPIA Fiber fully built out three cities (Layton, Morgan and West Point, Utah), announced an agreement with Pleasant Grove City, Utah, to build FTTP, and continues its operational partnership with Idaho Falls Fiber, now Idaho’s largest open-access network. The agency also launched UTOPIA Innovation Labs, which develops smart-city applications, such as early wildfire detection systems, air pollution monitoring and more.
On the service provider side, Rise Broadband became the 15th residential option on the UTOPIA network. Since the agency’s 2009 turnaround, it has successfully designed, built and operated nearly $300 million worth of fiber projects throughout Utah, all of which have been funded completely through subscriber revenue at no cost to taxpayers.
Vantage Point Solutions
Key Products: Broadband engineering and consulting services, including feasibility studies, network design, engineering and deployment
Summary: Based in Mitchell, South Dakota, employee-owned Vantage Point Solutions (VPS) provides engineering, legal and consulting services to wireless and wireline broadband providers. Vantage Point’s professional engineering capabilities, financial and technical expertise, and regulatory knowledge enable it to design advanced, economically viable solutions customized for each client. With more than 400 employees – including 50 from its merger early in 2020 with GVNW Consulting – and hundreds of clients across the country and internationally, VPS helps clients during nearly every step of broadband network development and operation, from concept to cutover and beyond. Services include feasibility studies; network design, engineering and deployment; regulatory advice; financial and business analysis; municipal code review and development; and network maintenance and security. VPS is often called upon to help clients shape grant applications. VPS also provides analysis and recommendations for clients participating in the FCC’s RDOF program. Since VPS was founded in 2002, its clients have been associated with $2.4 billion in spectrum, loan and grant awards, including about $700 million in the past year. Aside from its headquarters, VPS has offices in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Charlotte, North Carolina; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; San Antonio, Texas; and Springfield, Illinois.
Verizon Communications / Verizon Enhanced Communities
Key Products: Internet, video and digital voice services
Summary: Headquartered in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, Verizon provides converged communications, information and entertainment services in 150 countries. Verizon Consumer’s wireline services are provided in nine states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. and in Washington, D.C., over a fiber optic network through the Verizon Fios product portfolio and, where Fios is not available, over a traditional copper-based network.
In 2020, the Consumer segment’s revenues were $88.5 billion, representing approximately 69 percent of Verizon’s consolidated revenues. As of December 31, 2020, Consumer had approximately 7.1 million broadband connections, which includes Fios and digital subscriber line (DSL) internet connections, and approximately 4 million Fios video connections.
Verizon Enhanced Communities works with property owners, property managers and businesses to serve multifamily residential, multi-tenant commercial, and mixed-use communities with high-bandwidth internet, TV and phone services. Verizon also made efforts to alleviate the impact some of its customers experienced due to the economic circumstances related to the coronavirus. New Fios customers who qualify for the low-income Lifeline discount program received a $20 per month discount on their home internet service for as long as they remain eligible for the program, bringing the cost to as low as $19.99 per month for 200/200 Mbps internet with no data caps.
Verizon also participates in the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. The telco made all current Fios Mix & Match plans eligible for participants in the EBB program. However, Verizon also offers customers on legacy Fios plans (no longer in market today) the ability to enroll in EBB. A Dow 30 company with $128.2 billion in 2020 revenues, down from $131.9 billion in 2019, Verizon employed 132,200 people worldwide at the end of 2020.
Key Products: Horizontal directional drilling equipment, utility and pedestrian trenchers and plows
Summary: Headquartered in Pella, Iowa, privately owned Vermeer manufactures underground installation equipment. The company got its start in fiber optic installation in 1991, when it launched the Navigator horizontal directional drill (HDD) product line. Vermeer HDD products can install communications lines underground without excavating or trenching, minimizing environmental disruption and helping reduce fiber deployment labor costs. The company offers a microtrenching system that allows installation of fiber lines in a roadway in one quick pass. Vermeer’s D23x30DR S3 Navigator HDD, introduced in 2019, weighs 8 tons but integrates dual-rod technology into a compact machine designed to maneuver through rock in congested cities, busy neighborhoods or tight jobsites. Recent introductions include the SPX25 remote-controlled vibratory plow, used for installing small pipes and cables at depths up to 12 inches and for boring underneath driveways and sidewalks using an optional attachment.
Vermeer also expanded its line of vacuum excavators, including models for urban deployments. The RTX1250i2 ride-on tractor, widely used for microtrenching, was updated with easier tool changing, optional remote control and eco-friendly features. Vermeer continues to expand its plow and trencher product line, which includes the remote-control PTX40. The pivoting hand controls of the new PTX42 walk-beside plow/trencher can be moved from one side of the machine to the other, giving the operator greater flexibility around potential obstacles or more-compact jobsites. Electronic controls provide precise handling of machine operations, and a center-articulated design that oscillates at the point of articulation delivers maneuverability – even in tight working conditions and on uneven terrain. The PTX42 can be outfitted with several different attachments. It has a maximum depth of 24 inches and the trencher is 42 inches deep, 6 inches wide. This unit also has an electronic creep control to help optimize performance on longer distance installation.
Key Products: Fiber mapping software and service
Summary: VETRO FiberMap provides a cloud-based, fiber-management GIS platform purpose-built for broadband providers, municipalities and telco engineers that design and build next-generation internet infrastructure. Launched in 2016, VETRO FiberMap serves clients across the U.S. and in 17 countries. Delivered through a web browser, the platform is engineered for rapid integration, driven by OpenAPIs and managed in the cloud. It enables users to access network
data from anywhere and design, deploy and document networks – all from a single platform. Portland (Maine)–based Pioneer Broadband completed several rural FTTH network build projects using the VETRO FiberMap platform as a core technology.
Also in Maine, Pioneer completed FTTH projects in Houlton and Sherman as well as network design for Downeast Broadband Utility, which covers Calais, Baileyville and Alexander. Other providers, such as OTELCO, use the platform to help potential business customers determine whether fiber-based internet service is available in their areas. In 2019, the company launched its Geospatial Wrecking Crew, an in-house concierge GIS services group handling mapping-data conversion jobs for network design engineers and fiber-management platform users. Earlier this year, ConnectMaine Authority selected VETRO’s Broadband Intelligence Platform to serve as the platform of record and central hub for all planning, mapping and infrastructure data relevant to broadband mapping in the state. VETRO FiberMap is a privately owned firm based in Portland, Maine.
Key Products: Field and lab broadband test equipment, network monitoring systems, network performance monitoring, diagnostic solutions
Summary: VIAVI Solutions has served the industry for nearly 100 years. The company provides construction and installation, testing, assurance, monitoring and optimization solutions for broadband communications service providers, cable operators, mobile-service providers, network equipment manufacturers, hyperscale ecosystems, contractors, governments, data centers and enterprises. It offers test and measurement solutions for all gigabit internet technologies, including GPON, DOCSIS, G.fast, Wi-Fi and 5G.
VIAVI claims numerous firsts, such as the telecom industry’s first 400 Gbps test platform, the industry’s first PON power meter solution for NG-PON2 deployments, the first complete open-radio access network (O-RAN) test suite for 5G and the first fully integrated test product for pluggable 800G transceivers that use 100G electrical lane speed, introduced in May 2021. VIAVI continues to enhance its product line, introducing new or revised products several times a month.
Among the recent announcements are the Fusion JMEP 10 Smart SFP+, which enables monitoring of next-generation backhaul, broadband access and business services; a new instrument programming tool (VIP Tool); and a new optical fiber meter for “right the first time” installs and automation to identify and certify DWDM or hybrid CWDM/DWDM networks. For fiscal year 2020, which ended June 30, 2020, VIAVI reported net revenue of more than $1.1 billion and employed 3,600 employees, of whom about 1,000 were in R&D. Its quarterly results since then have shown gains. VIAVI is based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Walker and Associates
Key Products: Products and services for deploying communications networks; kitting and integration; product selection consulting
Summary: Walker and Associates is a national distributor of networking products for broadband providers, including wireline, wireless and CATV, and for government and enterprise network operators. The company sources products from more than 300 suppliers, facilitating carriers’ delivery of high-speed internet, video, data and voice services to residential, business and mobile users. Walker supports technology solutions such as switching, routing, Wi-Fi, microwave, network functions virtualization (NFV), Carrier Ethernet, VoIP, wavelength division multiplexing, reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexing, packet optical networking, software-defined networking, GPON, active Ethernet, fixed wireless and DSL.
Walker’s certified product engineering, kitting, testing, installation, systems integration and managed services simplify network deployment. Products include fiber and copper connectivity, power systems, indoor and outdoor enclosures and outside-plant products. Walker also offers marketing, sales and logistical and technical support services for manufacturers, reaching 10 telecommunications submarkets and more than 1,200 domestic customers. To keep pace with the markets it serves, Walker invested in additional technical resources and tripled its NFV lab capacity. To meet customer requirements for bulk fiber, the company enlarged its fiber cable supply yard and increased its capacity for custom-cut cable.
Last fall, the U.S. Army awarded Walker and Associates a spot on its $13 billion enterprise IT software contract for commercial, off-the-shelf software. Walker has been expanding its partnerships over the last year. In March 2021, the company joined Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise as a national reseller partner, enabling it to deliver wired and wireless networking and cloud solutions for utilities, transportation and federal customers. In April, Walker and Associates joined the Nokia Global Partner program, allowing Walker to market and distribute the Nokia line of industrial-grade Private Wireless solutions alongside the Wavence microwave packet radio portfolio. The solutions help utilities future-proof for new market demands and evolving business models. Based in Welcome, North Carolina, with 155 employees, Walker is ISO 9001/2015 quality certified and is a certified women-owned corporation.
Key Products: Gigabit home gateways and other customer-premises equipment, mesh Wi-Fi systems, Ethernet switches, security
Summary: Zyxel provides a portfolio of multiservice LTE, fiber and DSL broadband gateways; home connectivity solutions; smart-home devices; enterprise-class Ethernet switches and security and Wi-Fi equipment for small to midsize businesses. Recent Zyxel solutions for FTTH and FTTN include an advanced security gateway for service message blocks, a high-performance gateway for ISPs, an enhanced Nebula cloud management solution, and the CBRS and multiband outdoor routers for fixed wireless access.
In 2021, Zeal launched a web-managed multi-gigabit switch for homes and offices. The company also formed a partnership with Wyrestorm, which has added Zyxel’s portfolio of networked AV-enabled switches to their NetworkHD Series of AV over IP solutions. Zyxel has also been working with Affinegy, a vendor of hardware-independent, standards-based device management software recently acquired by NISC, to provide an automated, turnkey reporting service that broadband operators can use to satisfy Connect America Fund reporting requirements. In January, Zyxel launched its portfolio of 10G PON ONT solutions. This new product line includes three new products: a Wi-Fi 6 XGS-PON VoIP gateway ONT, an XGS-PON VoIP bridge ONT with 10G LAN, and the XGS-PON SFP+ ONT. Zyxel is headquartered in Hsinchu, Taiwan, with U.S. headquarters in Anaheim, California.