ChannelVision Magazine

Vertical Systems Group’s 2017 U.S. Fiber Lit Building Leaderboard included 10 retail and wholesale fiber providers with 10,000 or more on-net U.S. fiber lit commercial buildings as of year-end 2017, along with 12 com- panies in the Challenge Tier qualifying with between 2,000 and 9,999 U.S. fiber lit commercial buildings. Along with growth in the market, however, the big news was the impact of merger and acquisitions among these groups. 2017 U.S. Fiber Lit Leaderboard 1. AT&T 2. Verizon 3. Spectrum Enterprise 4. CenturyLink 5. Comcast 6. Cox 7. Crown Castle Fiber 8 Zayo 9. Frontier 10. Altice Challenger Tier: Cinti Bell, Cleareon, Cogent, Consolidated Comms, FiberLight, IFN, Logix, Lumos, Unite Private Networks, Uniti Fiber, Windstream “With fiber footprint expansion in the strategic plans of every major network service provider, we’re seeing a significant ramp up in new lit building deploy- ments,” said Rosemary Cochran, princi- pal of Vertical Systems Group. “Merger, acquisition and re-branding activity across the fiber provider landscape is so intense that it takes a scorecard to keep track. Nearly every one of this year’s Fiber Leaderboard and Challenge Tier companies has been impacted by one or more fiber-related transactions in the past year.” Major transactions include: Ve- rizon (#2) acquired XO (2016 Chal- lenge Tier); CenturyLink (#4) merged with Level 3 (#6 on 2016 Leader- board); Crown Castle Fiber enters at #7 with the acquisition of Lightower (#8 on 2016 Leaderboard) and opera- tions consolidation that included 2016 Challenge Tier companies, Sunesys and FiberNet Direct; Zayo (#8) ad- vances from #9 in 2016 with the ac- quisition of Electric Lightwave (2016 Challenge Tier); and Frontier (#9) advances from #11 in 2016 with fiber assets acquired from Verizon. The latest round of USDA rural broadband funding was announced this month, with $97 million allocated for projects in 11 states. The funding is a mix of loans and grants, flowing from the USDA Rural Development Tele- communications Loans and Commu- nity Grants program, and targets more than 22,000 subscribers. The largest loan, $21.4 million, was awarded to Chibardun Tele- phone Cooperative in Wisconsin. The rural carrier will add FTTP capabilities and construct 675 new miles of fiber, impacting 2,700 sub- scribers, according to USDA. The largest grant, $2.7 million, was awarded to Osage Innovative Solutions of Oklahoma. The grant will help fund a hybrid fiber-fixed wireless project to bring broadband to an unserved portion of the Osage Nation in Osage County. All told, the funding impacts proj- ects in Arizona, Iowa, Idaho, Mary- land, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Loan funding amounts to $87.9 million, while grant funding comes in at $9.3 million. Richer Server Configurations Push Data Center Revenues Richer server configurations, say researchers at IHS Markit, supported by new compute and memory-intensive work- loads, led to a 32 percent year-over-year increase in data center server revenue, which hit $17.9 billion in the first quarter of 2018. After three consecutive quarters of growth, average memory prices started to stabilize in the first quarter, but compute and data-intensive workloads kept server prices 20 percent higher than the previous year’s first quarter. Server shipments grew ahead of sea- sonality in the first quarter, growing 10 percent over the first quarter of 2017. It was also the first time density-optimized blade servers out-shipped shared- resource blade servers. In fact, nearly every vendor offering density-optimized blades reported soaring demand from cloud service providers, said IHS. Demand for open-compute and white-box rack servers also continued to drive a form-factor transition in the data center server market. “As in the past, server vendors offered new products targeted at telcos, with Open Compute Project servers taking center stage,” said Cliff Grossner, Ph.D., senior re- search director, IHS Markit. M&A Large Among U.S. Lit Building Leaders USDA’s Latest Rural Broadband Funding Round Announced Zettabytes Data Center server revenue forecast by form factor Source: IHS Markit Challenges of Using Chatbots According to US Internet Users, May 2018 you used in the past 12 months? Source: Forrester; among U.S. online adults Blade Rack Tower Open Compute Help or FAQs on a company’s website Online forum or community with other customers Voice self-service An online virtual agent or chatbot from a website S lf-service mobile phone application A virtual agent or chatbot on a smartphone 38% 38% 37% 35% 32% $0 $20 $40 $60 $80 $100 $120 CY18 CY22 Revenue (US$B) Keeps me from a live person % of respondents Too many unhelpful responses Redirects to self-serve FAQ Bad suggestions Pop-up chatbot prompts Unnec ssary pleasantries Takes too long to respond They never have enough data about me Other None of these 47.5 39.5% 28.2% 25.0% 24.9% 24.2% 19.7% 2.8% 8.4% Channel Vision | July - August, 2018 22