During the quarters before the merger between Lightower Fiber Networks and Sidera Networks was announced, both companies had been looking to the south for expansion opportunities. In October Sidera had even begun an aggressive buildout of fiber southward deep into Virginia. Today Lightower took those plans and ran with them, confirming and further expanding the company’s network expansion down the eastern seaboard.
In all, Lightower plans 1,500 route miles of new fiber, 1,100 of it being new intercity regional routes throughout Virginia and touching North Carolina, and more than 400 being new metro coverage in the DC metro area on both sides of the Potomac. Cities that will get new connectivity options along the way include Washington, D.C itself, Bethesda and Silver Spring in Maryland, Arlington Alexandria, Richmond, Reston, Herndon, Ashburn, Newport News, and Fredericksburg in Virginia, and Elizabeth City down in North Carolina. Last year Sidera built an alternative route into Ashburn from Rockville Maryland, offering a diverse route to the rest of the Northeast that Lightower now also has at its disposal.
Virginia has been getting quite a bit of fiber interest in recent years beyond the stronghold up in Ashburn. Lumos is busy right now hooking up Richmond, Windstream did the same for the education vertical just last year, DukeNet has been building northward from North Carolina, and FiberLight built out the Culpeper route not so long ago before moving further to hook up Charlottesville not so long ago. Other fiber buildouts are ongoing as well.
As for Lightower, it still seems to me that the company’s interest in Virginia bolsters the case for an inorganic move into the territories adjacent to the Virginia network it is building. They could easily make a move on DukeNet, which has been rumored to be for sale and which would take them all the way down to Atlanta and fit well from an asset and customer standpoint. Alternatively, they might look west at Lumos Networks.
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