There was yet more consolidation in world of fiber in the the upper northeastern USA. Oak Hill Capital Partners has struck again, announcing an agreement to buy Sovernet Communications, a network operator with fiber spanning most of the states of New York and Vermont.
Sovernet is based in Vermont, but operates the ION network in the much larger New York market next door. Oak Hill intends to combine the Sovernet business with those of FirstLight Fiber and Oxford Networks. When that consolidation is complete, they’ll have over 9,000 route miles of network from Lake Erie all the way up through the coast of Maine, with reach into a wide variety of second, third, and fourth tier markets throughout.
Oak Hill has been moving quickly to consolidate alternative fiber networks across the region. In March they agreed to acquire a majority stake in FirstLight. Last month, they moved to acquire Oxford Networks, which had previously combined with BayRing. FirstLight itself had acquired several others along the way under the ownership of Riverside. There’s not much left up there for Oak Hill to acquire, but plenty of integration work to get through once they close all these deals.
Once they get through all the details, the combined company could continue its rollup by moving southward with something like a buy of Lumos’s network following their possible separation/sale of the legacy businesses. But the best fit still seems like it would be an eventual combination with regional powerhouse Lightower.
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