Conterra says E-Rate contracts help establish business fiber in communities

Steinbach school
School districts "essentially cover the entire market" in cities Conterra serves, said Steve Leeolou, CEO and president.

Conterra, a growing regional fiber provider, is finding that school districts are good anchor tenants that the service provider can leverage to attract other business customers in the communities it serves.

The service provider recently bolstered its reach by reaching a deal to purchase two regional fiber-centric providers, Detel and Broadplex.

Today, Conterra provides fiber-based services to over 2,000 regional school districts, a number that continues to grow. The service provider won large contracts with the Fort Worth, Texas and San Antonio, Texas.

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Steve Leeolou, CEO and president of Conterra, told FierceTelecom that serving school districts is a no-brainer because they are located in areas that are close to local businesses and residential areas.

“A school district is laid out in a way so that all the schools that have to be served essentially cover the entire market,” Leeolou said. “If you were to go into one of these communities and lay out an initial fiber network to make sure we can reach all different vertical segments, you’d probably lay it out similar to the way a school district would be laid out.”

Leeolou added that Conterra’s team goes right into action after it signs a school contracts because it has an immediate footprint that they can extend to nearby businesses.

“When we win a school district and build it out, we have a really good footprint to begin with and we also look at other near-net opportunities in other verticals,” Leeolou said. “In some of the cases, we’ll alter the initial design or lay out of the routes for the school district looking ahead to future opportunities.”

After the FCC changed the rules that permit school districts to purchase dark fiber, Conterra was keen to bring fiber services to school districts.

However, the service provider said that while there’s a lot of momentum with dark fiber, most schools are opting for a managed lit solution.    

“There’s been some dark fiber done and we have done it ourselves, but most of the school districts don’t have the capability to own, light and operate a fiber network on their own,” Leeolou said. “They want to pay less and then tell someone else to run and light it for them.”

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