Cox enhances on-net fiber reach with Tulsa-based EasyTEL acquisition

Cox Communications is enhancing its business services capabilities and fiber network footprint in the Tulsa, Okla., market with a move to acquire CLEC EasyTEL.

Financial terms of the deal, which still must clear customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions, were not disclosed.

A key element of this acquisition is scale.

Upon completion of this acquisition, Cox Business will have a network in the Tulsa market that it says will cover nearly 95,000 fiber route miles, connect over 21,000 on-net buildings serving a diversity of business customers in various industry segments. Having this expanded fiber network will enable Cox to also extend its Ethernet services to an even larger business community.

"The attraction of the opportunity was they have a really strong fiber-based network and are very focused on the SMB customers like we are and have done very well and have done well with customer service so it was a very good fit for the two companies," said Todd Smith, a spokesman for Cox in an interview with FierceTelecom. "We think it's a good combination for them to bring them into the fold."

Since it is still at the beginning of the integration process, Cox could not reveal any details about the combined company.

Smith said they will know more about the structure "over the next couple of months." 

The purchase could also provide benefits to EasyTEL's existing customers. Already serving over 300,000 small and regional businesses in various regions, EasyTEL's customers that have offices outside of Tulsa could now potentially turn to the larger company for services in other markets.

From an internal standpoint, Cox has been enhancing its business through this acquisition, which is its first, and other partnerships such as those it recently developed with data center provider Via West.

"Like any mature business we're looking to grow not just through organic growth but also taking a hard look at investment and partnership opportunities that make sense," Smith said. 

Cox's acquisition of EasyTEL illustrates how cable operators are expanding their business service capabilities by acquiring other regional business services-focused competitive providers. Cable MSOs won a major coup last September when the FCC granted them forbearance from Section 652(b) of the Communications Act, a move that enables them to more freely purchase other CLECs like EasyTEL as a way to scale their business service reach.

Joining Cox on the competitive provider acquisition front are Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC). Comcast immediately enhanced its ability to target larger businesses by purchasing both acquiring Cimco and NGT Telecom, while Time Warner Cable bought NaviSite, a provider of enterprise-class hosting, managed application, messaging and cloud services. 

For more:
- see the release

Special report: Charting the Ethernet ecosystem

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Updated article on Sept. 5 with quotes from Cox spokesperson Todd Smith.