Over in the CLEC world, Birch Communications has been doing a bit of a stealth rollup. Yesterday they announced their 14th acquisition on the past five years, signing an agreement to purchase the operating assets of AstroTel. Those assets include an IP network covering part of the west coast of Florida, meaning the markets of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota and Bradenton, as well as AstroTel's customer and partner relationships.
I must admit I haven't really followed Birch, and don't know all that much about them despite all the moves they have been making, both inorganic and organic. Last year they bought Accutel in Texas and the Orlando-based US CLEC assets of Cordia Communications, while building out their IP network to St Louis, Kansas City, Tennessee, Georgia, and a selection of Texas markets. As they are privately held, it is hard to get a handle on the company's size, but they did manage to raise $77.5M over the summer to fund their expansion.
Basically, Birch seems to be doing what lyns said it was planning to do a couple of years ago but didn't follow through on. LightYear said they planned to roll up a half dozen or more CLECs to gain scale, but has only ever bought one in Kentucky. The financial details of Birch's AstroTel purchase were not disclosed.
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