Broadband Builds Will Continue to Ramp Up, Predict Experts

More broadband investment will result in overbuilding of networks.

Broadband Builds Will Continue to Ramp Up, Predict Experts
Photo of Robert Conger of Adtran, David Eckard of Nokia, Ryan Koontz of Needham and Company, Ryan O'Sullivan of AFL, Scott Woods of and Thomas Cohen of Kelley Drye & Warren (left to right)

ORLANDO, August 22, 2023 – Broadband builds have not slowed down following allocation announcements for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program in June and are expected to increase in scale and scope in the coming years, agreed panelists at Fiber Connect Tuesday.

Scott Woods, president for public-private partnerships of, a cloud-based mapping software and Broadband Breakfast sponsor, said that there will be an “explosion” of broadband investment in 2024 and 2025. The BEAD program is set to release its funds to states to connect every unserved and underserved home in the United States in 2024.

“The market has spoken and public policy has spoken: Fiber is the future,” said Woods. He said that market forces dictate that fiber will be the technology of the future as consumers demand fiber-enabled applications and services. Public policy in the BEAD program prioritizes fiber builds which also spurs fiber investment, he said.

Robert Conger, general manager of software platforms at telecommunications provider Adtran added that while equipment orders increased following the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent supply chain issues, orders are now relatively stable.

State broadband offices are getting more organized and are figuring out where funding will go and the timeline of builds, which drives more broadband projects which vendors are expecting in the next few years, said Conger. He added that there have been a slightly smaller number of new broadband projects in the last several months.

Many copper networks simply do not provide high-speed internet access, added David Eckard, vice president of U.S. government broadband initiatives at fiber equipment provider Nokia.  “Fiber is the long play. It provides an infinite amount of capacity,” he said, claiming that he does not expect fiber investment to slow down in the coming months and years. The best thing for providers to do is to invest in broadband and build over the technology that is outdated, he said.

Overbuilding – the practice of building a broadband network over an existing network – will continue to proliferate in the United States as competition increases, agreed panelists. As competition becomes stronger, we may see fiber built over other fiber networks, said panelists.

Woods told attendees that the industry needs to come to an agreement on the term “overbuilding.” Building a fiber network over copper or DSL is not overbuilding, he said, it’s a smart business practice to take advantage of an opportunity.

Woods warned that government bureaucracy changes could change the tenor and scope of the BEAD program, pointing to rumored provisions that would take back some of the money that is not allocated and install guidelines that are less prescriptive.

When there is uncertainty, it causes delays and when there are delays, cost goes up, Woods cautioned.

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