2017 is finally here, and that means it is time to take the pulse of M&A in the world of network operators once again. Let's start off with who Telecom Ramblings readers think are the most likely targets of consolidation. Which network operators do you think are most likely to get bought this year? This is going to be a whole new game, given the deals for XO, EarthLink, Electric Lightwave, Hibernia, Level 3 and others in 2016.
Last year, XO topped the list - and for once it was the correct call, with Verizon stepping up in February. No less than five others of the top 15 also were involved in consolidation activity. Integra changed its name to Electric Lightwave and then got bought by Zayo. EarthLink found a suitor in Windstream. UPN got a new majority owner over at Cox, Level 3 did a deal with CenturyLink, and PEG Bandwidth was actually the first to go via CS&L.
Later this week we'll follow up with who the likeliest buyers are. Note that to be on this list requires either a US fiber, IP or a xLEC business with substantial wholesale or enterprise business focus that has known or estimated revenues of around $50M or more or private equity backers of similar firepower. I may have missed a few (yes it does happen!), just let me know and I’ll correct it.