Three and a half months after announcing plans to acquire Fibertech Networks, Lightower followed through and closed the $1.9B deal. The combined company has some 30K route miles of fiber and 15K on-net locations, 5K of which are towers.
The purchase fills in some of the map for Lightower between its home turf on the east coast and the island of fiber out in Chicago that was acquired in the Sidera deal. In recent years, Fibertech has been building out several new Ohio markets as well as working on a major network expansion in Detroit. They had long had a substantial presence in Pittsburgh, Columbus, Indianapolis, and of course upstate New York, all of which are new territory for Lightower. They don’t have intercity fiber hooking all the new markets up yet of course, as that was never part of Fibertech’s model.
But Fibertech’s other markets dotting the east coast are also quite complementary to Lightower’s footprint, and the combined supra-regional entity’s coverage map is pretty dense at the metro level throughout the triangle between Southern Virginia, Northern New England, and Chicago.
The only missing pieces are in and around West Virginia, which is why I’ve wondered at times if Lumos might be Lightower’s next target. Lumos has plans to transform itself into a fiber pure play, divesting itself of its remaining legacy businesses and becoming perhaps an easier acquisition target. Of course, they also have plans to be acquisitive themselves.
But for its part, Lightower will probably be busy for at least a few quarters integrating the Fibertech assets and employee base. They have been a steady consolidator over the years, and surely have to also be looking west from Chicago and south from Virginia toward Atlanta. There aren’t that many obvious regional targets of their usual type in either direction though.
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