AT&T, Verizon’s Business Fiber Presence Face Growing Threats from Spectrum, Comcast Business

AT&T and Verizon may lead the number of business buildings connected with fiber, but Spectrum Enterprise and Comcast Business are closing in on their dominant positions.

  • AT&T

AT&T and Verizon continue to command the leadership position in the number of on-net fiber-lit business buildings. Still, their dominance faces growing challenges from Spectrum Enterprise and Comcast Business.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to overlook AT&T’s dominance in the business fiber market.

AT&T has retained the #1 rank for the seventh consecutive year on Vertical Systems Group’s 2022 U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings LEADERBOARD.

Vertical Systems Group noted that the top six companies on the 2022 LEADERBOARD are unchanged from 2021, which includes AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, Lumen, Comcast Business, and Cox Business. Each of these twelve retail and wholesale fiber providers qualifies for this benchmark with 15,000 or more on-net U.S. fiber-lit commercial buildings as of year-end 2022.

However, the research firm noted that the following six LEADERBOARD provider rankings changed compared to the previous year. Zayo advances to rank seventh ahead of Crown Castle, which dips to eighth. Frontier moves up to the ninth position from tenth—Brightspeed debuts in the tenth position with fiber assets acquired from Lumen. Breezeline (formerly Atlantic Broadband) falls to the eleventh position from the ninth. Optimum (Altice USA brand) drops from the eleventh to the twelfth and final position.

A fiber-lit building is defined as a commercial site or data center with on-net optical fiber connectivity to a network provider’s infrastructure, plus active service termination equipment onsite. 

Rosemary Cochran, principal of Vertical Systems Group, said in a release that business fiber builds are a response to various service trends. “Fiber installations at U.S. commercial sites increased in 2022, driven by escalating requirements for gigabit-speed connectivity to support cloud-based services, data centers, 5G rollouts, and other applications,” she said.

She added that new federal broadband programs could drive “new fiber investments in the U.S.” and that “opportunities in the commercial segment include monetizing the millions of small buildings underserved.”

U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings LEADERBOARDCompetitors Gain Traction

Large incumbents aren’t the only game in town. Nine companies advanced to the 2022 Challenge Tier: Altafiber (formerly Cincinnati Bell), Consolidated Communications, FirstLight, Great Plains Communications, Ritter Communications, Segra, Unite Private Networks, Uniti Fiber and Windstream.

These fiber providers each qualify for the 2022 Challenge Tier with 5,000 and 14,999 U.S. fiber-lit commercial buildings.

The number of 2022 Challenge Tier citations expands from eight to nine with the addition of Ritter Communications, which has been aggressively building out business and residential fiber throughout its four-state territory--in Arkansas, Texas, Missouri and Tennessee. It recently completed fiber expansions in Dyersburg and Union City, Tennessee.

Finally, the Market Players tier includes all other fiber providers with fewer than 5,000 U.S. commercial fiber-lit buildings. Vertical Systems Group says the 2022 Market Players tier covers more than two hundred metro, regional and other fiber providers.

Business Fiber Connectivity Rises

As the three service provider tiers roll out fiber to more buildings, it is helping to drive up total business fiber connectivity.

In 2022, VSG said business fiber connectivity reached more than 1.4 million U.S. commercial buildings and data centers. Buildings lit with optical fiber enable tenants to directly connect to business network services at speeds up to gigabit rates.

U.S. Fiber Connectivity 2022

The total U.S. base for fiber calculations includes over five million commercial buildings and data centers. Over 3.8 million U.S. commercial sites have no optical fiber access to network services.

Fiber competition continues to rise as 37 percent of commercial sites with over 250 employees have fiber connections from three or more providers.

Fiber availability increased in 2022 to 76.4 percent of sites for the Fiber 20+ segment, which covers four medium and large building sizes ranging up to 251+ employees. This compares to 19.1 percent of places in the Fiber <20 pieces of small buildings with fewer than twenty employees.

Interestingly, the small building segment grew the most over the past year. “Small buildings accounted for most new fiber-lit sites during 2022. Suppliers include the hundreds of fiber providers across the U.S. with nationwide, regional, or metro footprints,” Cochran said.



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