Last year's flurry of fiber consolidation that began with Verizon's acquisition of XO Communications' fiber business continues unabated into 2017 as recent headlines from a growing number of providers demonstrates.
Along with an expanded customer base, enhanced operating efficiencies and increased purchasing power, these moves give cable companies access to a broader pool of professionals in sales, engineering, deployment and network operations. Demand for fiber continues to grow -- and with it, demand for expanded fiber reach. Big 2016 deals targeting this goal included CenturyLink's pitch for Level 3, Consolidated and FairPoint, Windstream and Earthlink, plus Zayo and Electric Lightwave.
With its recently announced acquisition of Cascade Networks, Wave Broadband gets 350 route miles added to its west coast fiber network. This marks the 15-year-old company's 21st acquisition.
Days earlier, Conterra Ultra Broadband Holdings Inc. disclosed it had purchased two regional optical fiber-based broadband businesses that could expand its fiber footprint to more than 6,200 route miles and 355,000 fiber miles across seven states. Detel and Broadplex will operate as wholly owned subsidiaries.
And FirstLight Fiber started off the year by completing its acquisition of Oxford Networks, combining the two companies' operations to create 5,000 route miles of high-capacity, fiber optic networks over ten data centers and 4,400 locations in five states, FirstLight says. Once the service provider's acquisition of Sovernet closes sometime in early 2017, FirstLight expects to almost double its route miles, expand into Canada and add one data center plus about 600 on-net locations, it says.
For its part, real estate investment trust Communications Sales & Leasing is banking on fiber, Chief Financial Officer Mark Wallace told the audience at the Citi 2017 Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference this week. In 2016, the company formed the Uniti Fiber division and says approximately 60% of its "pipeline by asset type is in the fiber category." One of CS&L's acquisition strategies will be to focus on fiber business, Wallace says.
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Get more news on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.