Apollo Global Management, through a newly launched company called Brightspeed, today announced its plans to pass 3+ million consumer and business locations with fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP), as part of a $2bn+ investment program, which will commence upon completion of its pending $7.5bn acquisition of Lumen Technologies’ ILEC business. Notably, Brightspeed and Lumen’s ILEC business will be owned by Apollo Investment Fund IX, a private equity vehicle, which has $24.7bn in total capital commitments.
Brightspeed aims to bring high-speed internet to rural and suburban communities throughout the United States, once it becomes a standalone company, which will occur in the second-half of 2022.
Brightspeed – Apollo Brings Fiber to Lumen’s ILEC Footprint
Initially, Brightspeed will comprise Lumen Technologies’ incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) operations in 20 states, primarily in the Midwest and Southeast portions of the U.S.
More specifically, Brightspeed will operate in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Within these 20 states, Brightspeed will own both copper and fiber networks which currently pass 7.3 million homes and businesses. Through these networks, Brightspeed will provide broadband and voice services to consumer, small enterprise, and wholesale customers. Additionally, these networks connect to commercial buildings and tower sites.
Passings and Subscribers
Brightspeed’s copper and fiber networks will initially pass 6.7 million homes and 600k enterprise buildings, of which ~200k are fiber-enabled. Additionally, this network has ~1.3 million total broadband subscribers, of which ~59k are fiber subscribers. Indeed, the vast majority of these broadband subscribers are served via copper-based DSL.
Overall, Brightspeed’s network will, at first, offer broadband service using fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) to only 3% of residential households and 6% of business locations in its 20-state footprint.
Over the next 5 years, Brightspeed plans to build-out its fiber optic network to reach 3+ million consumer and business locations. In so doing, Brightspeed plans to invest $2bn+ to deploy this fiber infrastructure.
Apollo, through Brightspeed, will also explore the use of alternatives to copper for broadband, including fixed wireless.
In order to finance Brightspeed’s fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) build, Apollo has secured $2.1bn in aggregate funding. This financing consists of $1.5bn in pre-funded cash to fund capital expenditures and a $600m revolving credit facility. More precisely, the $1.5bn is funding for FTTP deployment and other network investments, which will be available at closing.
Management Team – Brightspeed
As a standalone company, Brightspeed will have its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, with leadership from former executives of Verizon. Specifically, this team includes Bob Mudge, as Chief Executive Officer; Tom Maguire, as Chief Operating Officer; and Chris Creager, as Chief Administration Officer. Previously, this management team was responsible for Verizon’s wireline business, including Fios’ sizable fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) deployments.
Additional executives who have joined Brightspeed include Steve Tugentman, as Chief Legal Officer; Colon McLean, as Chief Human Resources Officer; and Ashok Kumar, as Chief Technology Officer.
Bob Mudge, Chief Executive Officer – Detail
Bob Mudge’s most recent roles at Verizon included Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives where he led the company’s network transformation and fiber build initiatives. Additionally, Mudge led the integration of Verizon’s acquisition of XO Communications. Finally, he was also President of Verizon’s Consumer and Mass Business Markets.