EXA Infrastructure springs from sale of GTT’s fiber, subsea assets

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Blanken said EXA Infrastructure’s growth strategy is twofold: it plans to put additional loads on its existing infrastructure while also expanding its network to those locations where new data center clusters and cable landing stations are.(fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus)(Photo credit: fizkes / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

GTT Communications wrapped the $2.15 billion sale of its infrastructure division to I Squared Capital after nearly a year of waiting, giving rise to a new company called EXA Infrastructure which already has big plans for the data center connectivity market.

The new company has a substantial set of assets under its belt, including 103,000 route kilometers (around 64,000 miles) of fiber, 8 submarine cable systems, more than 300 colocation facilities and 14 tier-3 data centers. It will be led by former Telstra and Boston Consulting Group executive Martijn Blanken as CEO. About 420 employees will join EXA from GTT, with the latter to focus on its cloud networking business moving forward.

Martijn Blanken, CEO, EXA Infrastructure

Blanken told Fierce the company is focusing its efforts on operating as a wholesale data center connectivity provider, providing a narrow range of services to a select group of customers. Specifically, he said the company is offering infrastructure services such as dark fiber, wavelength services, Ethernet and colocation services. Its target customer base spans seven macro segments, including global service providers, local operators, government customers in both education and intelligence, financial service institutions, hyperscalers, cloud and content providers, and enterprise customers.

He noted each segment “requires a different tweak to the portfolio” but EXA hopes to find success by zeroing in on a relatively small number of companies rather than pitching its offerings scattershot.

“We’re not planning on expanding that too much. I think one of the critical success factors of this business will be its ability to focus on a limited group of customers with a fairly narrow product set and be very, very, very good at that,” Blanken said. He added “it’s very difficult to be good at many things at the same time.”

RELATED: GTT offloads infrastructure division for $2.15B to I Squared Capital

GTT Communications announced the sale of its infrastructure assets to I Squared Capital in October 2020, after spending nearly a year looking for a buyer. Earlier this month, GTT said it planned to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy after completing the transaction.

Blanken said EXA Infrastructure’s decision to stick with a narrow focus is reflective of a broader move by the telecom industry to get back to basics. He asserted “the days of large, listed, integrated telcos, like the AT&Ts, the Verizons, the BTs, are behind us. They will break up into smaller companies” over the coming years and home in on areas of strength than spreading their resources thinly across a wide array of offerings, assets and customers.

In terms of growth, Blanken said EXA Infrastructure’s strategy is twofold: it plans to put additional loads on its existing infrastructure while also expanding its network to locations where new data center clusters and cable landing stations are popping up. As a starting point, he noted it will target expansions across the southern, eastern and Nordic regions of Europe. It might also invest in tier-2 cities in the eastern U.S., he added.