Archtop aims to build XGS-PON oasis in fiber deserts of New York

A new ISP led by former Vyve Broadband executives is looking to bring state-of-the-art fiber to underserved communities in New York’s Hudson Valley, targeting a total of 500,000 XGS-PON passings in the region over the next several years. Jeff DeMond, CEO of Archtop Fiber, told Fierce the operator is planning to both build and buy its way to its goal.

Formed in partnership with private equity firm Post Road Group, Archtop Fiber has $350 million in backing for its plan. DeMond said Archtop has already scoped out the first 100,000 locations it plans to build and expects to begin construction by spring 2023. It is aiming to finish that initial project within 18 months.

DeMond explained the communities it is targeting are those which have seen a resurgence of activity and investment in recent years as folks moved out of New York City during the pandemic and into more rural parts of the state. These communities currently lack the necessary infrastructure to support the new residents and businesses that have come to the area, he argued.

While there are incumbent cable providers, the service they provide is “not particularly spiffy,” DeMond said, in part because these operators don’t have the time, attention or capital to invest in such non-core markets.

“The marketplace that we’re looking at is really exciting,” he said. “It literally is a fiber desert and there’s an opportunity to build a substantial regional fiber network and ISP in this area.”

Archtop’s business model is currently entirely privately funded, meaning it expects to be able to reach and generate acceptable returns from the aforementioned 500,000 locations it is targeting without government assistance. That said, Archtop’s executive team is deeply engaged with local government entities in a bid to secure public-private partnership deals. Such arrangements can not only help smooth the path for things like permitting, but can also help Archtop push farther out at the edges of the areas its targeting to bring service to more residents, DeMond noted.

To help jumpstart its network rollout, DeMond said Archtop is looking to acquire assets in the Hudson Valley area, noting negotiations are underway with several different parties. Though he did not provide the names of the entities Archtop is dealing with, he stated it is “not interested in buying things that are not already predominantly fiber” rich. He added it expects to make a series of deal announcements over the coming months.

Archtop’s initial plans may be focused on New York, but DeMond said it’s also eyeing expansion opportunities in other states as well. Particularly, he said it’s looking at regional opportunities in the northeast as well as in the southeast.

DeMond previously served as CEO of Vyve Broadband from 2012 until it was sold to GTCR and Mega Broadband Investments in 2019 and a director for industry association NCTA from 2013 to 2019. Archtop’s leadership team also includes Vyve Broadband alums Shawn Beqaj as chief development officer and Diane Quennoz as chief customer officer. Former Nexus Group CEO Lenny Higgins is Archtop’s COO.