DukeNet has found a buyer and it’s not one that was high on any of my lists. Time Warner Cable today announced a definitive agreement to purchase the North Carolina-based regional and metro fiber operator from its energy utility parent and Alinda Capital, which bought in a few years back.
DukeNet operates an extensive network centered on the Carolinas, but which has been lately branching out into neighboring territory to the west and south. Of all the competitive footprints out there, DukeNet has had the heaviest focus on wireless backhaul with more than 3000 towers on-net already.
For TW Cable, this will give them a much deeper fiber base in their cable markets in the region, enabling a more powerful move into the enterprise space. But it will also give them a lot of fiber outside their cable franchise turf, all of it by definition in other cable franchises’ turf which is a can of worms that cable companies have seemed averse to opening.
That’s the sort of thing that has kept me skeptical when it comes to M&A moves by cable on the metro fiber turf despite the FCC’s relaxation of the rules last year. Cox’s purchase of EasyTel out in Tulsa last month was a bit of an ideal case, as it overlapped almost entirely with an existing Cox market.
But TW just bought its way into the wider competitive metro and regional fiber market in a substantial way, and I’m now wondering if its MSO brothers have finally come ’round and broken free of the franchise box or not. If they have, then things are going to get hot quickly I think.
The purchase price was $600M, but no additional details were available.
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