More of those stimulus funds are being put to work finally. Today Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT, news, filings) won a bit of that business from the North Florida Broadband Authority with a five year contract. The NFBA hopes to expand broadband coverage across 14 under-served counties fom south and west of Jacksonville on to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. They won this award back in February for wireless broadband and middle mile connectivity, and are now building out the capacity. But such awards do not exist in a vacuum and hooking up the fiber the build to the rest of the internet is of course part of the deal and where Level 3 comes in.
Level 3, for its part, will be providing several services:
- Two 1Gbps wavelengths each in four rural markets, via their Extended On-Net service
- High speed IP services out of Tampa and Orlando
- Colocation space in Tampa and Orlando
- Help build out four other ILA sites
Level 3 has an extensive regional presence in Florida, much of which came from two of its metro acquisitions back in 2006: Progress Telecom and Telcove. However, those assets didn't extend into this region, nor does much other competitive metro and regional fiber that I know of, which is I suppose why these counties are underserved. I expect the assets they are using for this lie along the original Level 3 fiber build.
One might have expected a regional provider like FPL Fibernet or Southern Light Fiber didn't pick this one up, but perhaps all the NFBA just needed that help along the backbone and the Level 3 ILA sites were in the right place at the right time.
Meanwhile, Level 3 also refinanced another pile of debt. This time, they took out the 9% converts due 2013, but not with cash. Instead, they exchanged debt for debt, replacing $295M in 9% converts with $300M more of those 11.875% senior notes. They just keep chipping away at the next debt wall. Well, it's more like shoveling a path through the snow while throwing it forward. What they need is a snowblower (revenue growth would do it...)
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