The rumors were true, as they always seem to be of late. There are few true secrets in fiber M&A these days it seems. After the markets closed today, Verizon announced the purchase of a fiber network in Chicago from WideOpenWest.
The asset is primarily a wireless backhaul network that WOW! built mostly for Verizon in the first place, so this isn't an acquisition that is going to need much integration. The infrastructure connects some 500 wireless towers and macro sites as well as another 500 small cells throughout the Chicago metro area. WOW! had envisioned leveraging its Chicago buildout getting it further into the enterprise market, but apparently decided on another path.
Verizon will be paying $225M for the assets, and will be throwing in another $50M in funds for network investment so WOW! can continue the buildout. Along with Verizon's other moves lately (XO, Prysmian, Straight Path, Corning), it is quite clear that Verizon's appetite for fiber has shifted dramatically as it gets a head start on the expected demands of 5G.
The deal is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2018, while the network itself will take until the second half of 2018 to be fully in place.