The Boston metro area has a new competitor when it comes to metro fiber infrastructure. This morning Lightpath has announced three acquisitions that will take it into the major northeastern market in force, taking it beyond the New York/New Jersey metro area for the first time.
Lightpath is now 50.01% owned by Altice USA with the balance owned by Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners, a state of affairs that came about over this past winter. The company became less visible when Altice bought its parent, Cablevision, four or five years ago, but now with Morgan Stanley in the mix and Chris Morley on board as CEO that is changing quickly. Last week they announced plans to reinvent themselves with new branding and plans to invest in network upgrades. But apparently they also now see themselves as a consolidator, not necessarily bound to the territory of the parent cable MSO.
Lightpath is acquiring Cambridge Network Solutions, another regional network operator, and fiber network assets from Hub Fiber. The first two deals have closed, while the third will be completed within the next month or so. Combined the deals give Lightpath a starter set of 80 route miles of fiber connecting 100 locations. That includes connectivity into 12 area data centers as well as network both in downtown Boston and out to key suburbs north and west of the city: Cambridge, Somerville, Waltham, Billerica, Bedford, and Lowell.
That initial network footprint and the customers already on it will give Lightpath several legs up as it takes on a market completely new to the company. They also already have connectivity in place back to the NY metro area, in which the company has 18,000 route miles of fiber connecting 12,000 locations.
So the followup question is whether or not this is a one-off deal opportunity, or whether Lightpath might have an appetite for entering other northeastern markets in similar fashion. There is plenty of territory between the two markets they might find interesting, as well as further south on the I-95 corridor. I suppose it depends on whether there are any similar assets available to accelerate such an entry.
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