Privately held metro fiber operator FiberLight (news) unveiled a new strategy on Friday aimed at increasing the company's on-net building footprint. They have identified some 8000 'near-net' buildings and towers across their 4200 metro route miles in 21 markets that it can serve cost effectively. This is a significant step in that while FiberLight has enterprise customers, its 700 or so on-net buildings are mostly large wholesale sites and towers. While they will surely only add a fraction of the 8000 locations on their target list in the next year or two, the expanded focus will surely shift that balance.
The first target market for the expansion will be Dallas, where they will begin during the first quarter with a list of some 150 buildings to bring on-net. No doubt that effort will soon be extended to the rest of Texas, where FiberLight has a substantial regional presence that it has been putting substantial resources into. The company's other major regional networks are in the greater DC area and in Florida, in each of which the company has been spent on major expansion projects during 2009 and 2010. In Virginia they have built southwest to Culpeper and are now digging a new route to Charlottesville, while just to the north in Baltimore they recently completed a new 104 mile expansion as well. These buildouts have added breadth to their networks, and 2011 it seems will be about depth.
FiberLight has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past several years, both in the breadth of its fiber footprint and in revenue growth. But it has done so organically, thus far shunning the M&A markets that have been so active this year - a preference that CEO Mike Miller alluded to in an interview on this site back in April. That doesn't mean they aren't interested though, just that they haven't actually pulled the trigger. I've heard they might have made a play for US Metro down in southwest Florida. Lately though I've been wondering if a merger with Alpheus might have some strategic value, taking a dominant position in the regional Texas fiber market.
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