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Operations-based financial analysis of FTTH system proposals


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Operating costs vary widely for among fiber to the home architectures, technologies and business plans. Steve Blum, president of Tellus Venture Associates, demonstrated how to factor operating costs into initial feasibility and capital financing analyses, in a presentation and white paper for the Fiber to the Home Council on 5 October 2005.

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Operations-based financial analysis of FTTH system proposals

  1. 1. Financial Analysis of FTTH System Proposals:
 An Operations-Based Approach Fiber to the Home Council 5 October 2005 Stephen A. Blum, President,TellusVenture Associates Net Present Value in Year 10 ($000) Bid B Bid C Bid D Bid E Bid F US$357 (US$1,309) US$458 US$238 (US$1,477)
  2. 2. FTTH bids focus on construction costs • Proposals sometimes discuss operating costs or outsourcing strategies – Common with IP video solutions • Actual bid price usually doesn’t include those costs – Evaluations focus on “apples to apples” construction costs – You need to compare apple pie shops, not just the apples • Capital costs of a solution are only half the picture – Outsourcing options, license fees, maintenance contracts are some of the operating costs that differ from solution to solution Vendors understand their business, but they are in a different business than you are...
  3. 3. Revenue & cost assumptions • Objective is to make relative comparisons – To the extent possible, assumptions should be applicable to all proposals and scenarios – Assumptions can be refined and made specific once a winner has been chosen, in order to create a fundable business plan • Specific assumptions and back-up info in paper – All figures are in constant dollars, except programming costs – Revenue is assumed to be the same for all proposals – Speculative revenue is excluded – Construction to be completed within Year 1 Overly complex assumptions create confusing scenarios and mask problems. Simple, step by step reasoning produces a clear basis for decisions...
  4. 4. Six hypothetical proposals considered Type Comments Bid A PON RF video Bid B Active IP IP video Bid C AON RF video Bid D PON RF video Bid E AON Hybrid, with IP video solution Bid F AON Hybrid, lower cost video solution Based on actual bids, but actual numbers have been changed and elements swapped around
  5. 5. Hypothetical proposals meet system needs Service Mbps Required High-speed Internet 1 to 10 Telephone service Less than 1 Digital TV 0 to 10 Standard video on demand 5 to 20 High-def video on demand 19 to 38 to ? Interactive gaming ?
  6. 6. Vendor-dependent capital costs normalized • Core central office facilities • Central office TV head end facilities • Telephony facilities • Set top box installed • ONTs installed • System management • Fiber plant • Outside actives • Project management Includes items that might be left out of bids, such as VOD servers, IP routers, ATM switches, etc.
  7. 7. Bid A is the lowest of the 4 “actual” bids Vendor-Dependent Capital Costs ($000) US$6,000 US$6,750 US$7,500 US$8,250 US$9,000 Bid A Bid B Bid C Bid D Bid E Bid F
  8. 8. Vendor-dependent operating costs vary widely • Central office costs – Video head end, CO/OSP network control software – Outsourced core, video head end maintenance – CO spares • Customer premise & OSP costs – Additional CPE maintenance & spares – Fiber plant, outside actives spares & supplies – Outsourced fiber plant & outside actives maintenance • System management costs – Conditional access management – Advanced video services management – EPG When vendors can’t or won’t cooperate, use industry figures, independent research, best estimates
  9. 9. Bid D has an edge in operational costs Vendor-Dependent Operating Costs ($000) US$0 US$100 US$200 US$300 US$400 Bid A Bid B Bid C Bid D Bid E Bid F
  10. 10. Higher capex can lead to lower opex, but not always Vendor-Dependent Costs ($000) US$0 US$100 US$200 US$300 US$400 US$6,000 US$6,750 US$7,500 US$8,250 US$9,000 Bid A Bid B Bid C Bid D Bid E Bid F
  11. 11. Important: Determine licensing fees • Paid to manufacturers, integral to system – Usually bundled with support and maintenance – No other source for it – Could be used by vendors to offset low-ball hardware bids • Third-party software and technology – Insist on a complete break out – Identify activity-based costs and other hidden escalators – Develop direct relationships with providers If bidders are adding cost, make sure they are also adding value that is specific to the cost...
  12. 12. Independent costs need to be factored in • Any additional capex required? • What are the wholesale costs of services? • What will you need to run the business? – Billing, CRM, tech support, NOC – IT support, maintenance, advertising, marketing, legal, admin, etc. – Personnel and training: if a bidder says you can run the system with just the people you already have, verify it. • Confirm that costs are truly independent – Watch out for vendor mandates, such as specific video sources – Move costs into vendor dependent categories as necessary
  13. 13. Build the business model • Model cash flow – Calculate ramp rates, revenue, other activity units – Subtract wholesale service costs – Subtract operating costs • Model capital requirements – Vendor-dependent & independent costs – Fixed and variable – Operating capital • Calculate key financial metrics – Cash flow, break even, net present value, internal rate of return
  14. 14. Will it support itself & pay back the investment? Positive Cash Flow & Break Even Bid B Bid C Bid D Bid E Bid F Years 1 to 10 Assumes $50 per month mandatory assessment
  15. 15. Once cost of money is factored in, speed counts Net Present Value in Year 10 ($000) Bid B Bid C Bid D Bid E Bid F US$357 (US$1,309) US$458 US$238 (US$1,477) Assumes $50 per month mandatory assessment
  16. 16. What’s the system operator’s bottom line? • Entrepreneurial ventures look at near term return – 30% return on investment within 5 years typical • Municipalities have longer planning horizon – 20 year pay back might be sufficient – Bonding requirements, lease options might be key considerations • Private communities look at assessments – Simplifies planning: 100% take rate immediately – Can be subject to a vote, older property owners tend to focus more on personal cash flow than on benefits of technology Results from operations-based analysis will differ, based on system operator needs...
  17. 17. Private community assumptions lead to out-of- pocket bottom line considerations
  18. 18. Investment driven decisions
 require faster and bigger returns Assumes $100 per month mandatory assessment
  19. 19. Results support next steps, decisions • Second round of negotiations can be better informed – Analysis of hybrid scenarios can suggest changes to proposals – Bidders can adapt proposals to better meet system operator’s needs and reach • Investors, lenders focus on standard financial metrics – Quick progression to a fundable business plan • Stakeholders can evaluate personal impact – How much will it cost me? – What will I get for my money? Operations-based analysis creates the conditions for success, for system operators and vendors alike.
  20. 20. Questions? For more information... Steve Blum Tellus Venture Associates 1-831-582-0700