Ofcom leans towards permitting Openreach’s Equinox 2 price cuts


The regulator says its provisional view is to not intervene over Openreach’s plans to further reduce fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) product prices for ISPs

Today, Ofcom has opened a consultation on Openreach’s controversial proposed discount plan, Equinox 2, which would offer major discounts to ISPs purchasing the operators wholesale fibre products.

In its statement, Ofcom said that their provisional decision would be to allow this latest wave of discounts, saying that the move would not threaten competition.

“We have carefully assessed Openreach’s offer – taking into account the interests of consumers, as well as the impact on competitors and retail broadband providers,” Ofcom said in a statement. “Our provisional view is that we should not intervene to prevent Openreach from introducing Equinox 2. We consider the offer is not anti-competitive and is consistent with the rules we consulted on before introducing them under our market review in 2021. Maintaining these rules for the period of the review is also important to achieving certainty for all companies looking to invest in broadband networks.”

“In our provisional view, the proposed offer is consistent with our primary strategic goal of promoting investment in high-speed networks to deliver fast, affordable broadband to people and business across the UK.”

Openreach’s Equinox discounts are a controversial topic for the UK fibre industry.

The original Equinox discounts were first envisaged following the publication of Ofcom’s Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review back in March 2021. Regulatory changes within this document allowed Openreach to potentially launch a range FTTP product discounts – now knowns as Equinox 1 – saying doing so would help keep their products competitive versus the typically cheaper products available from altnets.

In case cases, these original Equinox offers would provide price cuts for ISPs of up to a third for fibre products.

Naturally, this was a controversial proposal, with the UK’s altnet community arguing that it would be unfeasible for them to drop their prices to similar levels, thereby squeezing them out of the market. They also argued that this pricing would be a huge barrier for new market entrants to compete with the incumbent.

Nonetheless, Ofcom ultimately allowed Openreach to launch the Equinox offers, which were formally introduced in October 2021.

Now, Ofcom’s seemingly affable attitude towards further discounts in the form of Equinox 2 could set the altnets on the war path once again. While the provisional decision is certainly in keeping with Ofcom’s original ruling over Equinox 1, additional discounts will heap further pressure onto altnets and we are likely to see significant push-back during this consultation period.

“More than £20bn of investment in competitive fibre networks is at risk and yet Ofcom is comfortable proposing not to oppose the offer, summarily dismissing valid and material concerns articulated by many stakeholders,” said Gita Sorensen, Managing Director of GOS Consulting. “Not only are altnets disappointed about Ofcom’s proposed decision, but they are also angered by Ofcom’s unwillingness to engage with their very real concerns. Jansen’s statements yesterday about BT being an ‘unstoppable machine’ and that ‘there can be only one’ national fibre network are clear indications of BT’s intentions to establish a new full fibre monopoly. Equinox 2 is core to their plans to foreclose the wholesale market and deny altnets access to customers.”

It is worth noting that some legal challenges against these discounts have already begun, with CityFibre lodging an official complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority late last year, arguing that Ofcom was allowing Openreach to pursue “an aggressive strategy to foreclose infrastructure competition in the UK fibre broadband market”.

This is not the first time that CityFibre has been at the helm of a legal challenge against Equinox, having seen a previous appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal rejected last year.

Ofcom’s final decision on Equinox 2 will be announced at the end of March.

How will Openreach’s Equinox discounts affect the UK fibre market? Join the broadband community in discussion at this year’s live Connected North conference

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Bullish Jansen questions need for choice

Bullish Jansen questions need for choice

BT’s trading update for the nine months to 31 December 2022 showed a fall in revenues but a massive growth in profit in what the company described as ‘strong performance in tough market conditions.’

Neil Shah, Director of Content and Strategy at Edison Group, reaffirmed BT’s own statement saying “Today’s announcement from BT Group is a welcome one for investors and only just below market expectations. The company reiterated its full-year outlook, despite seeing third-quarter revenues slip by 3% to £5.2bn, with adjusted earnings rising 2% to £2.01bn.”

Post-tax profit grew 49 per cent to £1.3billion for the latter nine months of 2022. The strong performance was driven on one hand by the formation of a 50-50 JV with Warner Bros. Discovery, boosting the division’s underlying earnings by 15%, and on the other hand by the performance  of the group around fibre-to-the-premises customers.

It was the latter area that prompted Philip Jansen, Chief Executive, to say “On full fibre, we’re building – and now connecting – like fury: 9.6 million premises reached to date, with 29% already connected”.

More controversially he is quoted by the Financial Times as later saying “There is only going to be one national network,” and “Why do you need to have multiple providers?”

It is likely to be these latter comments that will likely draw ire from the likes of CityFibre and VirginMedia O2 as will Jansen’s comment that the market would ultimately be just a “couple of big players” a process that would “end in tears” for many of the other operators.

CityFibre’s CEO, Greg Mesch, in particular said publicly at Connected Britain in 2019 that “that no one operator can deliver on the UK’s fibre targets alone” and the company has just reported 2022 to be their most productive year ever, with the network footprint increasing 83%. However yesterday CityFibre showed its not all plain sailing, announcing a restructuring process that could result in up to 20% of their 2,000 strong workforce losing their jobs.

Greg Mesch stressed the need to take responsible financial and operational decisions saying, “The UK’s economy is struggling, and this is affecting both the market and our customers.”

How many operators can the UK market support? Join the debate around the rollout of fibre networks at our Connected North event in Manchester this April. Find out more here.

Vodafone’s struggle continues as revenue dips in key markets


The operator’s latest results show service revenue down in Germany, Italy, and Spain, with the UK the company’s only major growth market

This week, beleaguered operator group Vodafone has announced its latest financial results, the first under the stewardship of interim CEO Margherita Della Valle.

As expected, they company continues to struggle in some of its largest markets, with revenues falling in Germany, Italy, and Spain by 1.8%, 8.7%, and 3.3%, respectively.

These three markets remain highly competitive, with Vodafone’s fibre business in Germany losing subscribers to rivals, and mobile price wars in Spain and Italy driving down revenues.

The UK was the only large market in which Vodafone’s service revenues had increased, rising 5.3%, largely as a result of inflation-linked price rises.

Vodafone is currently seeking to merge its UK operations with those of CK Hutchison’s Three UK, with Della Valle confirming that talks are ongoing between the two companies.

In total, these Q3 results showed total revenues of €11.64 billion, 0.4% lower than those reported for the same time last year.

Nonetheless, Della Valle said the company would not alter its forecasts for the year, still targeting full year EBITDA of €15–15.2 billion.

“Although we’re continuing to target our financial guidance for the year, the recent decline in revenue in Europe shows we can do better. We need to do more for our customers by delivering quality connectivity in an easy way,” said Vodafone’s interim CEO Margherita Della Valle.

Vodafone has been struggling to find growth for numerous years now, with key shareholders – notably activist investor Cevian capital –increasingly calling for an organisational shakeup.

Previous CEO Nick Read, who stepped down from the role after four years at the end of 2022, had long argued for market consolidation as the key to returning the organisation to growth, but very few deals at scale were ultimately struck during his tenure. Meanwhile, the company’s share value declined by around 40% during this period.

Della Valle took over as interim CEO at the start of this year, with the search for a permanent replacement still ongoing.

Now, Vodafone is pursuing a number of new strategies in order to reduce costs, having announced last year that it would seek to save €1 billion by 2026.

According to Della Valle, initiatives aimed at generating around €500 million in cost savings are already underway.

“We’ve already taken action, including simplifying our structure to give local markets full autonomy and accountability to make the best commercial decisions for their customers. In addition, we now have initiatives underway to generate around half of our €1 billion cost savings target. There is more to do and our focus is to provide a better service to our customers, become a simpler business and deliver growth,” said Della Valle.

It should be noted that this cost cutting plan includes the loss of at least several hundred jobs across the business, with the first batch of job cuts announced earlier this year. The company’s London office is expected to account for the lion’s share of the losses.

Vodafone is not alone in making job cuts in the UK, with BT also notably announcing a reduction in staff earlier this month.

Want to keep up to date with all of the latest changes in the UK telecoms sector? Join the ecosystem in discussion at this year’s live Connected North conference in Manchester

Also in the news:
Telia preps to cut 1,500 jobs as Q4 results disappoint
BT announces apprentice recruitment drive despite looming cost cuts
Colt connects to Barcelona Cable Landing Station

South African govt urges MTN to find ‘amicable solution’ to Ghana tax woes


The operator disputes the legitimacy of the $773 million tax bill forced upon it by the Ghana Revenue Authority

At the start of this year, the Ghanaian tax regulator announced that it was issuing MTN Ghana a bill of roughly $773 million, including penalties and interest, claiming the operator had underpaid its taxes for multiple years the previous decade.

The announcement came following the Ghana Revenue Authority’s audit of the operator’s finances for the years 2014–2018, with the regulator finding that MTN had under-declared its revenue by around 30% during this period.

“The base component of the assessment (that is, excluding penalties and interest), on MTN Ghana’s analysis, infers that MTN Ghana under-declared its revenue by approximately 30% over the audit period,” explained the regulator in a statement.

MTN “strongly disputes” these findings, saying they are inaccurate and made use of a flawed methodology.

“It is important to also emphasise that we believe MTN Ghana has paid its due taxes during this period under assessment,” MTN’s CEO Ralph Mupita told analysts at a meeting earlier this month.

Legal proceedings are ongoing to resolve the situation.

This week, however, the South African government has begun to weigh in on the dispute, urging the two parties to find an ‘amicable solution’ to the conflict.

The international relations and cooperation minister Dr Naledi Pandor called for fairness in resolving the legal battle, arguing that greater cooperation was needed between the two countries, especially in the telecommunications sector.

“Our common destiny, as outlined in the Agenda 2063 aspirations, depend on win-win intra-African collaboration and cooperation,” she said.

Agenda 2063 is a set of initiatives currently under implementation by the African Union, aimed at improving the continent’s economy and promoting closer collaboration between nations. The plan includes numerous flagship projects, ranging from the establishment of a high-speed continental rail network to the creation of a Great African Museum.

Crucially, many of these projects are directly tied to the telecoms industry, such as the creation of a pan-African digital data network, collaboration on cybersecurity, and the establishment of an open, digital Pan-African University.

In related news, it should also be noted that Ghana is currently experiencing a major economic crisis, with inflation rising above 50% and the government seeking financial aid from the International Monetary Fund. If ever there was a time when the government could do with a financial windfall, this is undeniably it.

Keep up to date with all the latest telecoms news with the Total Telecom daily newsletter

Also in the news:
Telia preps to cut 1,500 jobs as Q4 results disappoint
BT announces apprentice recruitment drive despite looming cost cuts
Colt connects to Barcelona Cable Landing Station

T-Mobile pledges net-zero emissions by 2040 – including Scope 3


The operator says it is the first US operator to make such a commitment

This week, T-Mobile has announced its latest sustainability goals, aiming to reduce its emissions to net-zero across its entire carbon footprint by 2040.

Crucially, this new goal encompasses not only Scope 1 and 2 emissions – those generated directly by the company’s own operations and indirectly by the company’s purchased electricity – but also Scope 3 emissions, those caused by the company’s wider supply chain, its employees, and its customers.

These Scope 3 emissions currently account for two-thirds of the company’s carbon footprint.

The goals have reportedly been validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) using their Net-Zero Standard framework.

“While T-Mobile’s net-zero goal is a decades-long endeavor, we know how important it is to take definitive actions now to reduce our environmental impact for future generations,” said Janice Kapner, chief communications and corporate responsibility officer at T-Mobile. “We’re committed to measurable progress and holding ourselves accountable with strong governance practices, consistent and transparent reporting, and ongoing collaboration with leading sustainability experts.”

In addition to announcing their new net-zero goals, T-Mobile also revealed that that they have signed The Climate Pledge, a commitment to reaching net-zero 10 years ahead of the timeline set out by The Paris Agreement. As part of this pledge, the company has agreed to measure and report its greenhouse gas emissions regularly, implement various decarbonisation strategies, and eliminate any remaining emissions with “additional, quantifiable, real, permanent, and socially beneficial offsets”.

It is worth noting here that T-Mobile’s progress towards this goal is already well underway, with the company having used nothing but renewable energy for around a year now.

T-Mobile’s largest rivals, AT&T and Verizon, meanwhile, have announced their own sustainability targets, though neither of them have announced plans to eliminate Scope 3 emissions.

Verizon, is aiming to reach net-zero operational emissions by 2035, including a 53% reduction in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions between 2019 and 2030. It is also aiming for half of its total energy consumption to be derived from renewable sources by 2025.

Since December 2019, the operator has announced numerous Renewable Energy Purchase Agreements, amounting to roughly 2.6 GW, with the latest deal being struck earlier this year.

AT&T has similar goals, aiming for carbon neutrality across its own operations (Scope 1 and 2) by 2035. The operator said it would achieve this target by focussing on using renewable energy, bolstering energy efficiency, and reducing fleet emissions through optimisation and the introduction of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Are US operators doing enough to reduce their carbon footprint and promote a more sustainable future? Join the experts in discussion at this year’s live Connected America conference

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Colt connects to Barcelona Cable Landing Station

Telia preps to cut 1,500 jobs as Q4 results disappoint


The job cuts come amongst a raft of cost-cutting measures that have been ongoing since the start of 2021

This week, the announcement of Telia’s lacklustre Q4 results has been accompanied by an acceleration of job cutting plans, with the company set to reduce its headcount by 1,500 this year.

According to the company’s earnings statement, the first 1,000 of these jobs will be slashed in Q1 this year, with the remaining 500 expected to be cut by the end of the year.

The company currently employs around 20,000 full time staff in various markets.

Telia has been attempting to cut costs significantly for a number of years now, in 2021 laying out a new strategic plan that included job cuts, asset divestiture, and operational streamlining.

At the time, the company said it would aim to cut 1,000 jobs a year until 2025, but now the macroeconomic environment, including rising energy prices and inflation, is forcing the company to accelerate its strategy.

Struggling under the weight of $2 billion in non-financial impairments related to its Norwegian and Finnish units, this year Telia noted a net loss of roughly $1.8 billion –a stark contrast to the profit it recorded for the same period a year ago.

“We are transforming a large, complex business in a challenging market and there are no shortcuts to success. We have known from the start that achieving our ambitious goals demands focus, discipline and perseverance,” said Telia CEO Allison Kirkby. “However, having returned the company to growth, expanded our 5G networks, passed our investment peak and built the foundations for better operational momentum and cash conversion going forward, I remain confident we are on the right track.”

Also in the news:
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American Tower rumoured to be eying Cellnex takeover

BT announces apprentice recruitment drive despite looming cost cuts


The operator says it plans to hire over 400 apprentice and graduates in its September 2023 intake

This week, UK incumbent operator BT has announced that it is looking to foster the next generation of telecoms talent by bringing on board over 400 new recruits in the coming year.

The new apprentices and graduates will be recruited to work in a variety of areas within the business, including engineering, customer service, and cybersecurity.

These jobs will be made available at a variety of locations around the UK, primarily in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Ipswich, Leeds, London, and Manchester.

BT notes that many of these offices are part of its ongoing Better Workplace Programme, a scheme first announced back in 2019 that sought to consolidate the company’s 300 offices into just 30 as part of broader cost cutting measures. The Programme, which is set to be completed next year, aimed to modernise these remaining locations, creating “future fit, high tech workspaces where colleagues can collaborate, innovate and deliver the best service for BT Group’s customers and for the business”.

It is also worth noting here that his hiring process will be undertaken with BT’s Manifesto in mind, aiming to more diversified workforce by 2030. As part of the plan, BT is targetting a 50:50 gender split within the workforce, as well as ethnic minority groups making up 25% of staff, and people with disabilities comprising 17%.

“As one of the largest private sector employers of apprentices and graduates in the UK, we continue to recruit and attract brilliant people into our business and we offer unparalleled development opportunities to those who join us,” said Athalie Williams, BT Group’s Chief Human Resources Officer. “Despite the current economic backdrop, we’re building a future pipeline of talent to help drive growth across our business, deliver great outcomes for all of our customers and to underpin economic growth in the UK.”

The operator says it has recruited over 2,600 apprentices and graduates over the last five years, with around 4,000 of the company’s staff working towards qualifications at any one time.

This announcement of further recruitment comes at a relatively delicate time for BT.

Last November, the company said that soaring energy prices would force it to seek even more cost savings by 2025 than previous expected, increasing targets from £2.5 billion to £3 billion. Some of these cost savings would “inevitably” be derived from a reduction in staff, according to BT CEO Philip Jansen.

It is also worth noting that BT has only recently settled a pay dispute with its existing engineers and call centre staff, which saw disgruntled workers vote for the first national strike action in 35 years. In November, BT agreed to settle the despute by offering staff a £1,500 pay rise.

Is the UK telecoms industry doing enough to nurture the next generation of telecoms talent? Join the operators in discussion at this year’s upcoming Connected North conference

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Neos Networks announces fibre milestones in Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, and London
American Tower rumoured to be eying Cellnex takeover

Colt connects to Barcelona Cable Landing Station

Press Release

This agreement between AFR-IX and Colt will enable the multinational to strengthen its connections to the main European routes

Barcelona (Spain), 26th January 2023. Colt Technology Services (Colt), the digital infrastructure company, today announced the connection of its award-winning intelligent Colt IQ Network to the Barcelona Cable Landing Station (Barcelona CLS). Colt becomes first carrier to link to Barcelona CLS of AFR-IX telecom. The new CLS has been built by African internet exchange AFR-IX Telecom which is already using Colt’s network in the African market to provide an internet service to African operators and customers to connect them to European data centers via Colt’s routes.

Colt operates in more than 220 cities in over 30 countries and connects more than 1,000 data centres and over 31,000 connected buildings in the largest business centres in Europe, Asia and North America. Colt’s network in Spain and Portugal is already serving Lisbon, Bilbao, Madrid and Barcelona, and has 13 connection points to data centers in Barcelona.

Connection with the major European digital hubs

Colt will be able to offer, from Barcelona CLS, services like  data centre interconnection (Data Centre Interconnect), inter-network traffic exchange (IP Transit) or dark fibre (non-active fibre optic circuits that enable the capacity of customers to be expanded in times of need).

Colt will enable Barcelona CLS to connect to Europe’s major digital hubs (Paris, London, Frankfurt) and provide an express terrestrial route to other key regional cable landing stations such as Lisbon, Bilbao and Marseilles, installing new submarine cables and capacity in the US, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

In addition, the Colt deal is an example of how Barcelona CLS is shaping the digital ecosystem needed to build a competitive digital hub in Southern Europe.

Christian Schmidt, Colt’s Network Expansion Manager for Spain, said: “Colt is participating in the repositioning of the Iberian Peninsula as a European digital hub, becoming a key player in the connections between America, Asia, Africa and Europe. To avoid saturation in Europe, the peninsula has become an essential hub to diversify connectivity. The Barcelona landing station for submarine cables will position the Iberian peninsula geo-strategically as a key access point to Europe.”

Norman Albi, CEO of AFR-IX telecom, said: “We are very proud that Colt, with whom AFR-IX telecom has had a long-standing business relationship, will be part of the Barcelona CLS project, as it will represent a major deployment of the station’s activity, which opened in October. With Colt, we are sure that other operators will follow, as synergies are very important in this sector”.

How is the submarine cable landscape changing in 2023? Join the experts in discussion at this year’s live Submarine Networks EMEA conference

Also in the news:
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American Tower rumoured to be eying Cellnex takeover

Total Telecom takes highly successful Connected event series to the US

Press Release

Connected America will bring the entire connectivity ecosystem together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of enabling next-generation broadband

Dallas, Texas, January 26, 2023 – How to deliver America’s connected future will be the focus of Connected America – a brand new conference featuring a prestigious line-up of speakers from national, state and local service providers, the public sector, enterprises and suppliers.

Taking place at the Irving Convention Center, in Dallas, Texas, from March 29-29, Connected America is organised by news provider Total Telecom, which is hosting the event for the first time following the huge success of its 2023 line-up. This included the UK’s largest connectivity event, the award-winning Connected BritainConnected North and Connected Germany.

Connected America will bring together more than 150 speakers to explore the big picture for delivering enhanced connectivity in the USA; what does a truly Connected America look like and how can it be delivered? Other focus areas include investment and regulatory strategies, fibre and 5G, the opportunities and challenges of delivering smart places and connected transport, the factory of the future and rural connectivity.

“We have observed the US market for some time and believe now is the right time to launch Connected America,” said Total Telecom’s Managing Director Rob Chambers. “All the factors are aligned, there is the political will to ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet; public and private finance is falling into place and communities are demanding better broadband to work, to learn, for healthcare, and to stay connected.”

The conference will see more than 1,000 attendees from organisations transforming U.S. connectivity. It is supported by the Fiber Broadband Association, Association of American Public Broadband, Broadband Bunch, Broadband Communication, and Competitive Carriers Association. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Amanda Hofer, Assistant General Manager at Central Texas Telephone Cooperative
  • Amol Naik, SVP of Public Policy, Government Affairs and Community Engagement, at Ting Internet
  • Anh Selissen, Chief Information Officer at Texas Department of Transport
  • Bill Zielinski, CIO at City of Dallas
  • Claude Aiken, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Legal Officer at NextLink
  • Earnie Holtrey, Deputy Director at Indiana Broadband Office
  • Emily Buckman, Director of Government Affairs at American Farm Bureau Federation
  • Gary Bolton, President of Fiber Broadband Association
  • Glen Howie, Director at Arkansas State Broadband Office
  • Gregory Elsborg, CIO at Dallas Area Rapid Transport (DART)
  • Kim McKinley, Chief Marketing Officer at UTOPIA Fiber
  • Marlette Jackson, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Frontier
  • Raimundo Rodulfo, CIO at City of Coral Gables
  • Rob Johnson, Chief Development Officer at LiveOak Fiber
  • Will Townsend, VP and Principal Analyst at Moor insights

For more information or to register to attend Connected America, visit: https://www.terrapinn.com/conference/connected-america/index.stm

About Total Telecom
Since 1997, Total Telecom has provided the connection between the buyers and sellers in the global telecom market. We do this through high quality editorial content and events to facilitate discussion on industry issues, and recognise innovation and excellence by companies and individuals.

Our community of 120,000+ telecom professionals relies on Total Telecom for daily news and regular in-depth insight, delivered through a number of channels including online, video, social media, and at our series of events.

Broadband in the driving seat


t3 Broadband are one of the companies you can meet at Connected America, making place in Dallas this March. Find out more here

Tell us about your start up
t3 Broadband is a company that specializes in providing engineering services and products for broadband access solutions. Our offerings include RF engineering, wireless engineering, fixed and mobile wireless products, optical products, and GIS. We work closely with our operator customers to effectively solve their business needs by providing the correct product, solution and service set that help achieve their goals. Customers are service providers, utilities, tribes, and other entities that provide broadband and mobile services to their subscribers, typically but exclusively to the rural markets.

What is your USP
t3 approaches each customer opportunity with an economic-first approach, working with our customer to solve their broadband network questions in the most cost-effective manner possible. We also take a solution- and vendor-neutral position, and given our background in both fixed and mobile networking, partner with our customers to find the best options to fit their budgets and their needs, many times creating a hybrid network solution that combines wireless and fiber components. We also bring unique intellectual property to our customer engagements that combines business and technical domains that are aligned to meet each customer’s budget and solution requirements.

What is your relationship with the telecom sector?
Telecom service providers are t3’s customers. These service providers may be fixed wireline operators such as traditional telephone or cable companies, mobile operators migrating their 3G and 4G networks to 5G, and tribes, municipalities, and utilities providing broadband to their communities.

How have you got to your current stage of development?
We are in a growth mode, self-supported with some key customers and partners, leveraging both the national broadband infrastructure investments and network modernization trends across both fixed and mobile operators.

Why did you establish the business?
Based on the management team’s background with large multinational companies, we started t3 to provide similar services to rural and smaller operators to assist them in bridging the digital broadband divide with value-based economic solutions.

What is your motivation?
Our motivation is the need for advanced digital services in rural parts of the country and our ability to help our customers provide these services to their communities.

What does the future hold for your business?
With broadband becoming a critical service, we see continued growth with the expansion into the unserved and underserved markets and communities.

LAST FUNDING TYPE: Self-funded, private investment
WEBSITE URL: www.t3broadband.com
FOUNDER: Chris Crowe, Owner/CEO