Long-time wireless industry executive Glenn Lurie is now a member of the advisory board of FiberLight, which he expects will be a very busy company for the foreseeable future.
That’s because FiberLight and its peers are supplying what everybody needs for 5G backhaul: fiber. And given that wireless carriers just spent over $81 billion on C-band spectrum, it’s a fair bet that their services are going to be in demand.
“It just shows you where the industry believes everything is going,” he said of the C-band expenditures. All that infrastructure is going to need fiber backhaul, and that’s where FiberLight fits in. The company has over 14,000 miles of fiber, mostly in Texas but also in Virginia and parts of the Southeast.
It’s always going to be the lowest common denominator – if you don’t have fiber for backhaul, “you’re not going to get the speeds,” and that’s why big telcos are talking about it. Companies like FiberLight that have fiber assets are in a “wonderful” position, he told Fierce.
However, putting fiber in the ground is expensive, so “you have to then consider all the different ways that you can monetize that fiber,” he said. That means nothing is off the table or too small, including opportunities serving office complexes or multi-dwelling communities.
“There’s a whole host of ways that FiberLight can go out and take care of a number of different types of customers,” and while the big wireless carriers are among the usual suspects, that will include smaller entities as well that are looking for private wireless networks.
During their respective investment days earlier this month, both AT&T and Verizon talked about their desire to build out more fiber alongside 5G. AT&T, especially, stressed its fiber strategy, with plans to deploy fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) to an additional 3 million locations across more than 90 metro areas this year. (T-Mobile has emphasized leasing fiber rather than owning it.)
Some of the work-from-home scenarios that the Covid pandemic created are expected to remain after the crisis subsides. Companies already have announced hybrid-work scenarios, where some people can continue to work from home while others will be in the office or choose a mix of both.
“I don’t know what the new normal is going to be, but I do believe that it’s going to be more flexible,” Lurie said. More people will be given the opportunity to work from home, and those places, whether a house or other dwelling, will need more capacity and more fiber, he said. “Without question, all of where we’re headed is opportunity for this company.”
As a member of the advisory board, Lurie will be working with FiberLight Executive Chairman Jim Lynch, CEO Chris Rabii and other board members on strategies like where to expand that fiber.
Lurie most recently was president and CEO of Synchronoss Technologies, where he resigned last year after allegations of personal misconduct; he declined to talk about his departure or the company.
The cloud/messaging company didn’t reveal exactly what was alleged. Jeff Miler was named interim president and CEO at the time, a role that has since become permanent.
Over the preceding years, Lurie established a name for himself in wireless, starting in the 1990s selling phones for McCaw Cellular after a brief stint as a professional soccer player. He eventually worked his way into a position at AT&T where he was a part of the negotiations with Steve Jobs and Eddy Cue to sell Apple’s first iPhone in 2007.
He led AT&T’s Emerging Devices (now IoT) organization before being promoted to president and CEO of AT&T’s Mobility and Consumer Operations, where he reported to John Stankey, the current CEO of AT&T Communications. Lurie left AT&T in 2017.
Several years ago, fiber was very much a part of the game, and a lot of talk centered on blurring the lines between wired and wireless. “At AT&T, I spent as much time back then thinking about our investments around fiber as much as we thought about our investments in wireless because they’re really one and the same,” he said.
Lurie previously served on the board of CTIA and was board chairman in 2016. He currently serves on the boards of several companies, including Avis Budget Group, Pivotal Commware, Blue Link Wireless and Teal Communications. He also serves on multiple advisory councils.