Merger activity in the fiber sector took a Canadian turn late on Tuesday, as cable and wireless operator Rogers Communications announced that it has agreed to purchase Atria Networks. Atria operates a deep fiber footprint in the province of Ontario not all that different from similarly dense regional metro operators in the US, with some 5,600 route kilometers (3,480 route miles) and 3,800 on-net buildings spread across a half dozen to a dozen metro areas - depending on how you group them..
Rogers will pay C$425M in cash for Atria, with the selling entity being Birch Hill Equity Partners. They will use the company's assets to further their entry into the small and medium enterprise marketplace, bringing buildings on-net. One might think of Atria's future role as analagous to that of Cox Business or Optimum Lightpath, as the fiber to the business arm of a cable giant. But with Rogers' wireless component and the recent outbreak of competition in that space up in Canada, I wonder if there isn't a tower backhaul component in the strategy somewhere.
I first ran into Atria a few weeks ago when I was putting together my Canadian fiber maps page. I had no idea at the time Atria had some 3800 lit buildings, and I couldn't even find any fiber maps for Rogers. I'm sure they have fiber, but since they don't use it in this fashion they don't promote it much. I wonder if they'll be buying more fiber assets to fit with Atria's Ontario footprint.
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