Lightyear puts regional growth strategy in place

Sherman Henderson, LightyearSherman Henderson's creation of Unidial, the precursor to what is Lightyear Network Solutions (OTC BB: LYNS.OB) is your classic business creation story: he plotted out the company idea while dining at a Denny's restaurant in Louisville, Ky., in 1993.

Although Henderson is not a telecom novice, he's not your typical telecom executive that worked for the early MCI or one of the Bell companies. He officially entered into the business after running other non-telecom businesses in 1986 when he founded Charter (not be confused with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's cable operations), a long-distance operator serving the Midwestern states in 1986.

Fast forward to 2010, and the focus continues to be on innovation. What perhaps stands out about Lightyear is they are providing not only your typical wireline business service (voice, video and data), but it also provides wireless services through a reseller arrangement with network partner Sprint.

Although Lightyear does work with other service providers like Sprint and XO, Lightyear has been growing its own network and service holdings organically and through a targeted merger/acquisition strategy.

To expand its own internal holdings, Henderson has set forth what the company calls a phased acquisition strategy that's set on expanding its wireless/wireline product set and network capabilities in regional chunks.

One of its most bold moves came in February this year when it completed a reverse merger with Libra and then went public. Riding what has become a new consolidation phase in the competitive telecom market, Lightyear plans to leverage its public status to attract new investors and funding to conduct its own purchases of other CLECs.

Already, elements of that strategy are being brought to bear. In July, Lightyear acquired Kentucky-based SouthEast Telephone Inc., adding 33,000 rural customers to its fold. With the acquisition, Henderson not only wants to extend its integrated communications set to businesses that have been largely left behind by the larger service providers.

Given Henderson's creative drive and will, we think Lightyear will continue to leverage its public profile to drive more consolidation in the competitive provider market and emerge as ripe competitor to the traditional incumbent service provider regime.

Lightyear puts regional growth strategy in place