Uniti Fiber announced some expansion plans out in the Midwest this morning. They will be moving to better support the backhaul needs of one of the largest wireless carriers out in southeastern Iowa and the northern and central regions of Illinois.
More specifically, Uniti Fiber plans to expand its dark fiber reach in the Rockford, Peoria, and Quad Cities/Davenport metro areas. They already have some 90,000 fiber strand miles and about 1,500 route miles supporting some 400 customer connections in the region. The buildout will see the construction of about 140 new route miles, with the bulk being in the Rockford and Quad Cities markets. They will start digging holes by the end of the first quarter of 2017, assuming the weather cooperates.
Uniti Fiber was just created this past summer, as CS&L combined the operations of PEG Bandwidth and Tower Cloud into a single operating unit. This is the first new expansion project the division has embarked on, adding depth in a market that PEG Bandwidth had already built out a substantial network in.
CS&L's REIT structure gives the company tax advantages that should make funding organic expansions like this easier to justify. Additional expansions adding depth in Uniti Fiber's other three operating regions will surely be on the menu as well over the next year.
Of course, the opportunities for inorganic expansion are still out there as well, and it seems likely that CS&L is already looking for more assets to roll into the consolidation platform they are creating at Uniti Fiber. Maybe someone like FiberLight could make a lot of sense, given the adjacent geographies.