Lumen’s CFO: Fiber overbuilder noise has stopped

Sept. 14, 2023
The service provider sees fiber as a competitive weapon to battle cable competition while seeing slower activity in new fiber providers.

Lumen Technologies does not fear non-fiber or upstart fiber providers eating into its base. Quantum Fiber’s gigabit and multi-gig speed internet is available in over 18 cities.

The company has previously said Quantum Fiber internet is on track to connect more than 500,000 homes and small businesses this year.

During the second quarter, Lumen accelerated its Quantum Fiber-enabled pacing, deploying approximately 130,000 fiber locations. This brought the total number of fiber-enabled areas to about 3.4 million as of the end of June. It added about 250,000 fiber-enabled locations during that period, bringing it closer to its goal.

Chris Stansbury, CFO of Lumen, told investors during the recent Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Technology Conference that it is not seeing any credible threats from cable or new fiber providers in the six major metro markets where it offers Quantum Fiber today.

“In the six major metros where we are focused, there’s not a lot of fiber competition,” he said. “And the overbuild noise has stopped because the economics did not work out.”

Enhancing the customer experience

In markets with cable, Lumen is confident that fiber will be the winning strategy.

Unlike cable competitors, Quantum Fiber does not require consumers to sign a contract. Depending on the market, Quantum Fiber customers can choose from either a symmetrical 1 Gbps speed or an 8 Gbps offering.

“Fiber will win in the consumer experience every day,” Stansbury said. “The shackles of what cable offers, which has some attractive pieces, is a losing proposition in the long-term.”

And since Quantum Fiber is moving fast to deploy more XGS-PON technology in its last-mile network, it can adapt over time.

“Quantum Fiber is clean, easy and highly scalable,” Stansbury said. “As customer needs change over time, we’ll see where they go.”  

Driving brand consistency

Besides deepening its fiber reach, Lumen is leveraging its new consumer brand—Quantum Fiber, to drive brand consistency.

In 2020, the former CenturyLink rebranded itself as Lumen. At that time, it launched Quantum Fiber, a new brand that delivers fiber-based products and services to residents and small businesses.

During a meeting with its customer-facing team in Seattle, Stansbury said several brands were represented in one location—CenturyLink, Quantum Fiber and Lumen. “I looked around and saw Lumen shirts, Quantum Fiber shirts and CenturyLink shirts and trucks,” he said. “It was messy.”

He added that the rebranding enables it to have a familiar consumer customer-facing brand. “What this allows us to do is only to sell Quantum,” Stansbury said. “What that allows us to do is market one product to the consumer, which allows us to drive faster subscriber growth.”