Lightpath drops millions to build, buy its way to a bigger fiber footprint

Enterprise fiber provider Lightpath charted a course to double-digit revenue growth, planning to spend millions to expand its footprint and serve more customers through a combination of network extensions and acquisitions.

Lightpath is jointly owned by Altice USA and Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners and has hitherto operated within Altice’s traditional footprint in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. This week, however, it gained a foothold in Massachusetts through three acquisitions focused in the Boston area. These included the purchase of Cambridge Network Solutions, a second unnamed provider and assets from Hub Fiber.

Phil Olivero, Lightpath CTO, told Fierce that all told it gained access to 80 route miles of existing high-count fiber which currently serves 100 customer locations, including 12 data centers. He said Lightpath intends to grow its footprint “to serve more of the Boston-area’s business customers over time” but noted the deal was a “great way to get into the market in a big way rather quickly.”

He said the deal is the first in a “flurry” of moves the company plans to make in the near-term to expand its footprint. These may include additional acquisitions to jump into new markets. But he noted it is also “making large investments in and around our traditional footprint to expand our fiber presence…by building ourselves.”

“That’s through aggressive near-net extension programs, where if a customer is up to 3,000 feet off of our fiber we are absolutely willing and able and open to doing those kinds of extensions. And we’re also making some expansions just outside of our traditional footprint,” Olivero explained.

Altice USA formerly wholly-owned Lightpath, but sold a 49.9% stake in the company to Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners for about $3.2 billion in July 2020. Olivero said once that deal closed in December 2020, one of the first things Altice USA and Morgan Stanley did was bring in a management team to help Lightpath capture new growth opportunities. Former Zayo Group executive Chris Morley was appointed CEO in January of this year, with Olivero, who previously worked for Lightower Fiber Networks, joining in March.

RELATED: Altice USA sells 49.9% stake of Lightpath to Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners for about $3.2 billion

The ramp in activity is part of a strategy to achieve double-digit revenue growth, he said. Olivero declined to attach an investment figure to its plan, but stated “this is a big focus of why the investors, both Altice USA and Morgan Stanley, brought in the management team, to make these very significant, multi-million dollar investments to really fulfill that potential for growth.”

Olivero added it isn’t targeting a specific number of new route miles but will “make the investments necessary, if that’s hundreds or thousands of miles of fiber.”

In terms of its customer focus, Olivero said medium and large businesses in the financial services, government, healthcare, education and pharmaceutical segments will “be a big part of our current and future plans.” To meet the growing bandwidth needs of such enterprise customers, he noted it is adding 800G capabilities to its network.

“The ability to now carry 800-gig waves on our network, and multiple of those on a pair of fibers, means we can make 100-gig more available and will enable things like 200-gig, 400-gig, 800-gig for some customers who need that kind of bandwidth,” he said. “And there are many customers, believe it or not, who are needing that kind of bandwidth.”