Monday, April 04, 2016

Barring ambitious federal program, state & local government P3s with legacy providers not a solution for U.S. telecom infrastructure deficits

CenturyLink, Frontier and TDS mull public, private fiber network partnerships - FierceTelecom: CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), Frontier Communications and TDS are amongst a growing group of service providers that are considering partnering with local communities to build out and upgrade their networks to support higher speed residential and business services. Jennifer M. Fritzsche, senior analyst for Telecommunication Services - Wireless/Wireline at Wells Fargo, said that while CenturyLink, Frontier and TDS are looking at working with local communities, the one remaining barrier is who will oversee and operate these networks.

Actually, the bigger -- and biggest barrier -- is funding. These legacy players lack business models to generate adequate funding to build out fiber to the premise infrastructure serving all premises within their service territories within a reasonable time frame. But so do state and local governments. Especially as they continue to cope with the aftermath of the Great Recession and many competing needs for public funding such as deteriorated roads and highways and other infrastructure and enormous public pension obligations.

Some local governments and particularly those with pre-existing telecom or electric power infrastructure such as those mentioned in this article are the sole viable candidates for these P3 arrangements. That could change if the federal government launched an ambitious program appropriating the many billions needed to ensure every American home, business and institution has a fiber connection.

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