Update on the Transport Market

I took a look recently at the big carrier transport market. These are the carriers that make money transporting data around the country. When people ask who runs the Internet, it is these companies that carry data from point A to point B.

There are two big categories of transport data sales – Ethernet services and wavelength services.

Ethernet service is transporting some fixed amount of bandwidth capacity. One of the primary products in this category is dedicated Internet access (DIA). Last-mile ISPs are familiar with this service because they all buy DIA Ethernet data pipes to reach the Internet. These are usually sold in increments of gigabit speeds. This category of transport also includes transport to support enterprise network transformations to SD-WAN/SASE, as well as for secure connections to cloud-based services.

The biggest seller of Ethernet services in 2022 was AT&T. The company took back the number one ranking after Lumen had held the top spot for the previous five years. Lumen fell to number two as a result of spinning off a part of its business to Brightspeed. There are four other carriers that had at least 4% of the U.S. market in 2022 – Spectrum Enterprise, Verizon, Comcast Business, and Cox Business. There were six other companies that held between 1% and 4% of the U.S. Market – Altice, Cogent, Frontier, GTT, Windstream, and Zayo.

The other category of bit transport sales is wavelength service. This is a layer 1 fiber service that uses an entire wavelength of light on a fiber to provide bidirectional multi-gigabit speeds. These are the sales made to the largest generators of data, including social media companies, large corporations, and the government. The most typical sales of bandwidth on this service are 10-gigabit and 100-gigabit service.

There were four carriers that held more than 4% of the wavelength market in 2022 – Lumen, Zayo, Verizon, and AT&T. There were four other companies that had between 1% and 4% of the market – Arelion, Cox Business, Crown Castle, and Windstream.

There is one final category of large carrier sales that is dominated by the big carriers, which measures the number of buildings lit with fiber on each company’s network.

The following carriers serve at least 15,000 lit buildings – AT&T, Spectrum Enterprise, Lumen, Comcast Enterprise, Cox Business, Zayo, Crown Castle, Frontier, Brightspeed, Breezeline, and Optimum. The following list serves between 5,000 and 15,000 buildings – Consolidated Communications, FirstLight, Great Plains Communications, Ritter Communications, Segra, Unite Private Fiber, Uniti Fiber, and Windstream.

One thing is obvious in looking at all three lists – the big telephone companies still collectively hold the lion’s share of the market for large business sales. Right in the mix are also the big cable companies. There are only a handful of independent companies on these lists that are not owned by telcos or cable companies.

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