Counting the On-net Towers

November 26th, 2012 by · 11 Comments

As long time readers know, I keep a list of metro fiber and lit building statistics.  But as some correctly point out, lit buildings are not all equal and by itself this information only shows one aspect of fiber depth.  Hence, I’ve been trying to dig a bit deeper to find other data that is comparable across the sector that offers further insight.  Today I’m offering up the first version of a compilation of on-net towers per operator, assembled from public data for the US market only (for now).  

I do not pretend this list is complete, in fact the most obviously missing data is tabulated at the bottom.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find as much as I did, although some of it is a year old and from a third party estimate.  Not all metro fiber operators have focused on fiber to the tower, of course, and then there are some operators for whom I have a tower count but not a total on-net building count.  So this list looks rather different than the more general one.

Company Towers
On-net
Date Source/Comment
CenturyLink 13,500 9/2012 Q3/2012 Earnings Report
TW Cable 7,600 9/2011 Old, Light Reading estimate
Comcast 6,000 9/2011 Old, Light Reading estimate 
Zayo Group 2,664 9/2012 Fiscal Q1/2013 Earnings Supplement, 1271 in process
DukeNet 2,104 9/2012 Collected from company website.
Fibertech 2,100 6/2012 Company newsletter, June 2012
Windstream 2,100 6/2012 Q3 Earnings Conference Call, 1900 in process
Cox Business 2,000 9/2011 Old, Light Reading estimate
Charter 1,000 9/2011 Old, Light Reading estimate
FPL Fibernet 641 7/2012 Company Building List
Southern Light Fiber 600 5/2011 Old, CEO Interview
FiberLight 400 4/2010 Old, CEO Interview, 450 in process
Lumos Networks 261 9/2012 Company 10Q for Q3/2012
Integra Telecom 180 4/2012 LightReading article
Verizon ? Surely very large, but still looking
AT&T ? Surely very large, but still looking
tw telecom ? Company: Doesn’t break out this data
Lightower Fiber Networks ? Still looking
Level 3 Communications ? Company: Doesn’t break out this data
Sidera Networks ? Still looking
Cablevision/Optimum Lightpath ? Company: Doesn’t break out this data

The biggest FTTT player that publicly reports its progress is CenturyLink, which has been putting big resources behind it.  My data for the largest cable operators is sketchy, but serves for a ballpark estimate of their overall presence.  We all know Zayo has been very active, but I was interested to see DukeNet and Fibertech aren’t all that far behind them in wireless backhaul despite more highly focused footprints.  Windstream is catching up quickly too of late.  Below 1,000 there are clearly others that could be added to this list, but I haven’t managed to track down all available data just yet.

I plan to make this list a permanent (and regularly updated) resource once it is nailed down a bit further.  Hence, if you have any data for other providers or more recent/accurate numbers than these, please leave a comment or drop me an email!

More on this topic (What's this?) Read more on Fiber Optics, Metro at Wikinvest
Categories: Metro fiber · Wireless

Join the Discussion!

11 Comments So Far


  • Interesting article. A small comment: zayo and fpl fibernet are publishing their list of cell sites, numbers there are slightly different

    • Avatar of Rob Powell Rob Powell says:

      I had a typo in Zayo’s number (i.e. actually 2664 rather than 2669, though they add one per day practically so…), but I’m wondering where you got a different number for FPL Fibernet. Do you have a link?

  • JG says:

    XO does a ton of backhaul for T-Mobile. I wonder if they release their data?

    • Josh.e says:

      @JG – who cares! XO is irrelevant. And given the financial and operational situation they are currently facing they likely will lose whatever customers who haven’t already left.

      • Racer says:

        What information do you have about XO’s financial and operational situation?

        • Anonymous says:

          BlahBlahBlah … Pete .. is that you? Stop being a company guy, pull your head out of the sand and look around you. The company is losing talented sales, sales engineering, operations, engineering folks. Suppliers are smarting. Access providers are pulling away. BTW, last weeks network outage of the entire core network being impacted by old out of date systems, legacy and antiquated support tools, etc should be enough of an example to show you its financial position preventing required investments resulted in a major gap. Good luck.

      • Racer says:

        Why is XO irrelevant? What companies are more relevant?

        • Anonymous says:

          Cmon Pete … again, must i tell you to stop being the company guy? Ladies and gentlemen … Lets see – Zayo for its fiber assets, VZ for its cloud and wireless assets (and i don’t mean LMDS), ATT for its enterprise global business and managed services capabilities plus wireless assets, Centurylink only b/c it was smart enough to acquire Savvis and its virtualized business, etc etc etc etc. XO has some decent products … Hosted VoIP, transport network, etc. But XO has retards running service delivery, customer experience, legal, finance, CEO, network, etc. When Icahn finally gets off his arse and sells it the assets will be worth something … just not sure how much b/c the base of strategic customers has eroded faster than his chances of not paying a sizeable chunk of taxes upon the precifice of the fiscal cliff we are about to experience. Oh and yeah … lets not forget about the fact that XO’s IRU’s on the fiber network with L3 will expire in about 8 years or so .. leaving them in a bad position and no leverage against L3.

    • Avatar of Rob Powell Rob Powell says:

      If the data is available, I’ll gladly add it to the list. But XO plays their stats notoriously close to their vest.

Leave a Comment

You may Log In to post a comment, or fill in the form to post anonymously.





  • Ramblings’ Jobs

    Post a Job - Just $99/30days
    Jobs by Simply Hired
  • Event Calendar