Altice USA said it will accelerate its fiber-to-the-home buildout efforts, planning to pass 6.5 million homes by 2025 with the state-of-the-art network, after a year where it saw broadband customer additions creep into negative territory.
Altice USA lost about 2,000 broadband customers in Q4 and shed 3,000 for the full year, not including numbers from its most recent acquisition, Morris Broadband. If Morris Broadband subscribers are included, Altice USA said it would have added 27,000 broadband customers for the full year.
The broadband slide helped drive revenue down 0.6% in the quarter to $2.52 billion, while adjusted EBITDA fell 5.9% to $1.1 billion. For the full year, revenue rose 2% to $10.1 billion and adjusted EBITDA was relatively flat (up 0.3%) at $4.43 billion.
Altice USA stock fell about 3.5% in after-hours trading Wednesday to $13.59 per share. So far this year, the stock is down about 16%.
The company has struggled with broadband subscriber metrics over the past few quarters as it has competed with aggressive promotions from Verizon’s Fios product, losing about 13,000 customers in Q3. Late last year it announced a change in its strategic direction, speeding up fiber deployment, shifting several management positions and planning to rebrand the company under the Optimum name.
"We are pleased to conclude 2021 having made progress on our growth strategies by accelerating the enhancements of our network, product and customer experience,” CEO Dexter Goei said in a press release. “We see customer trends improving as we continue the expansion of our sales distribution channels and recently launched our planned competitive converged internet and mobile offerings. Today we also announce a new plan to bring 100% fiber broadband, delivering multi-gig speeds, to more than two thirds of our entire footprint over the next four years, reaching a total of 6.5 million FTTH passings by the end of 2025. We are confident in our strategy and that our focus on these key initiatives will drive long-term sustainable growth and value.”
Altice had said earlier it had to scale back its fiber rollout in order to adhere to pandemic related protocols. Now that many of those restrictions are being lifted, it can step up its efforts to build out the network.
Altice USA said the new fiber expansion should allow it to cover about two-thirds of its total footprint in the next four years and will include about 2.5 million additional passings in its Suddenlink markets and 4 million in its Optimum locations. Altice began building out its fiber network in the Optimum footprint mainly in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut several years ago and currently passes about 1.2 million homes with fiber in those areas. In its Suddenlink markets, construction is expected to begin this year in six communities in Texas -- Abilene, Amarillo, Bryan-College Station, Lubbock, San Angelo, and Tyler -- expanding later into parts of Arizona, California, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.
“Altice USA is proud to announce plans to invest further in our fiber deployment strategy by accelerating the build of a 100% fiber broadband network capable of delivering multi-gig speeds across our Optimum and Suddenlink footprint,” Goei said in a press release. “Fiber is the future and given the progress we have made at Optimum with our fiber expansion, we’re excited to build on that success and break ground later this year at Suddenlink to bring our advanced network to more customers and communities.” ■
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Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.