fiber broadband patch panel

TDS reported 2020 results last week and the carrier’s recent narrative remains relatively unchanged. That narrative includes growing TDS fiber locations, growing broadband penetration, and actually adding video subscribers.

TDS fiber locations surpassed 300K, now reaching approximately 36% of the carrier’s 845K total wireline locations. TDS added approximately 67K new fiber locations in 2020, an investment of about $130 million, according to TDS CEO James Butman, who outlined TDS’ progress on the carrier’s 4Q 2020 earnings conference call.

“It is critical to build these fiber networks and connect subscribers quickly to stay in front of potential competitors,” said Butman in prepared remarks. “We have an active pipeline of identified markets and a test a game plan to plant our flags in new markets that will expand our out-of-territory footprint even further.”

TDS location map
TDS Service Area (Source: TDS)

TDS fiber locations will grow even more in 2021, with Butman outlining plans to add an additional 150K locations in 2021. TDS eventually plans to more than double its fiber locations to 620K by 2024, according to TDS CFO Vicki Villacrez. Growing fiber availability is helping drive other services and revenue.

“Across our wireline residential base, including our new out-of-territory markets, 40% of broadband customers are taking 100 megabit speeds or greater compared to 33% a year ago, helping to drive a 5% increase in average residential revenue per connection,” said Villacrez, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

Over 13% of TDS subscribers now take a higher ARPU gigabit service. Gigabit penetration is on the rise. According to the most recent OpenVault OVBI, gigabit penetration now averages 8.5%, which represents 301% growth from 2019. Overall TDS broadband penetration increased 9% for the year.

Approximately 40% of TDS broadband subscribers also opt for IPTV. In fact, TDS continues to buck the larger industry trend of declining video penetration. Video subscriptions actually grew by 8%. IPTV is now available to 41% of TDS broadband customers.

TDS still has considerable DSL locations as well. Just about 40% of TDS broadband subscribers can only access speeds of 24 Mbps or less, with 18% only able to get 10 Mbps or less. TDS residential ARPU reached $51.33 at the end of 2020.

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