fiber cable

TDS reported first quarter results last week and revealed that the carrier’s total broadband customer base surpassed 500K for the first time (including residential and business). TDS is high on fiber and is also seeing gigabit penetration of 17%, the company reported on its earnings conference call.

Fiber expansion at TDS began a few years ago and the company reports fiber is now available at 321K locations, or 38% of its wireline footprint. TDS fiber penetration currently comes in at 36%. The company is planning to reach an additional 300K locations in the next few years, with 150K coming on line in 2021.

“We have completed 321,000 fiber service addresses through the first quarter and are working to build out the footprint in these announced markets to 620,000 service addresses by 2024,” said Vicki Villacrez, TDS CFO on the earnings conference call (via Seeking Alpha transcript). “We have identified other attractive opportunities where we can be first to market and expect to plant our flag in these markets in the near future, which will increase these numbers.”

Gigabit-capable broadband is now available to 55% of TDS properties, which include ILEC and CLEC territories, as well as a cable footprint TDS gained from acquisitions. Villacrez noted TDS gigabit penetration across all those markets at 17%.

“Our marketing and sales techniques enable us to effectively market at a neighborhood level,” said Villacrez. “This gives us tremendous flexibility over timing and execution to consistently target a high broadband take rate.”

TDS location map
TDS Service Area

Total TDS service addresses reach 1.3 million locations. The company grew its broadband subscribers by 9% in 1Q 2021. TDS still has about 38% of its broadband customers on slower DSL of less than 25 Mbps, down from 40% at the end of 2020.

On the video front, TDS saw relatively flat video growth, which is an achievement in and of itself, given the cord cutting trend. In its IPTV markets, TDS sees video penetration of 37% for broadband customers. TDS reported growing its video base in 2020, a trend that has slowed in 1Q 2021, which follows traditional seasonal trends.

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