According to a release this morning, Birch Communications is doubling down on its metro fiber-based expansion. The privately held network operator says it has added another 80,000 buildings to its fiber reach across 22 states, a boost of 25% over the reach they had achieved just 2 months ago.
Birch has spent much of the last decade quietly but voraciously rolling up CLEC assets across the country. But it wasn’t until the acquisition of Cbeyond that they began to shift their emphasis over to fiber. Cbeyond had already begun leasing metro dark fiber in an effort to shift from T-1s to Ethernet connectivity. When Birch took control, they quickly increased those investments.
But of course, adding 80,000 buildings to one’s reach in one fell swoop is not something one does oneself. Clearly what Birch is doing when it talks about this sort of reach is adding wholesale partners, probably cable MSOs at least in part, who will be providing the last mile access to customers in those buildings. Birch clearly plans to add further such partners as well, allowing them to sell 1Gbps symmetric to small and medium businesses across much of the country alongside cloud and voice.
Birch has been relatively quiet lately on the M&A front. It’s possible that the next phase of their growth plan will be of the organic variety, but I suspect they have another M&A arrow or two left in their quiver. A quick look at their data/internet coverage suggests the northeastern corridor from Virginia to Maine would be a place where they might be looking to beef up their infrastructure. Broadview springs to mind on that front.
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