consolidated fairpoint mergerConsolidated Communications hopes to complete its acquisition of FairPoint in mid-summer, said Consolidated CEO Bob Udell yesterday. When that occurs, a Consolidated FairPoint roadmap will prioritize upgrading broadband lines currently capable of supporting speeds of 15 Mbps to support 20-100 Mbps, Udell told attendees at a financial conference. About 50% of the FairPoint footprint has broadband service available at speeds of 15 Mbps or higher, Udell noted.

The cost to upgrade the 15 Mbps connections is “not extreme” and should have a greater return in comparison with upgrading lower-speed connections, Udell said. Using a golfing analogy, he said, “It’s not a long putt.”

The company should see the impact of those upgrades in 2018, he noted.

The majority of customers in Consolidated’s current service territory now take service at speeds of 20 Mbps now – up from 3 Mbps five years ago, according to Udell.

Consolidated FairPoint Plans
Consolidated’s service territory will expand substantially when the FairPoint acquisition is completed. The number of states served will jump from 11 to 24.

consolidated fairpoint merger

Combined Consolidated – FairPoint Network (Source: Consolidated)

Consolidated FairPoint plans include refocusing FairPoint more tightly on business and broadband, Udell said. After making that shift in its own business, Consolidated now gets 82% of its revenue from business and broadband, noted Udell. FairPoint “is in a position about five to six years behind on that curve,” he said.

Consolidated Video Strategy
Udell pointed to the customer portal that Consolidated deployed two years ago as an important element of a strategy to gain more broadband customers in FairPoint territories and to steer customers toward Consolidated’s preferred video offerings.

The customer portal “became a catalyst for us to begin to promote a more feature-rich broadband offering without broadcast video,” Udell said. “We use the portal for access to our TV Everywhere content, which is still tied to our content relationships for broadcast. That’s the way we’re leading consumers to over-the-top.”

Consolidated has what Udell called a “Netflix-like” over-the-top video offering that “allows us to authenticate the user through our portal which gives them access to additional broadcasts and off-air.”

Content has become so costly that Consolidated no longer offers video as a stand-alone offering, Udell said. He added, though, that the company offers video in all its markets as part of a bundle that also includes broadband.

Udell made his comments at the Jefferies 2017 Global Technology Conference.