FirstLight brings Sovernet Communications under common brand

FirstLight has rebranded Sovernet Communications under the FirstLight brand, marking the next stage in integrating the company as part of its larger network expansion effort in the Northeast United States.

The two companies have been serving Vermont for over 15 years, and now as a combined company, FirstLight has expanded its network reach and enhanced its capabilities throughout the state.

Kurt Van Wagenen, CEO of FirstLight, told FierceTelecom in an interview that the rebranding is consistent with other properties it has acquired like Oxford Networks.

First Light Fiber
Kurt Van Wagenen

RELATED: FirstLight consolidates Oxford Networks and ION under one brand

“This is very consistent with the rebranding we have done with the other entities,” Van Wagenen said. “Sovernet has deep roots in Vermont for many years and the good news in respect to this rebranding is FirstLight has been operating in Vermont for 15 years as well.”

FirstLight decided to take more time to rebrand Sovernet so it could provide a seamless look for the company’s existing customers.

“We’re very comfortable now that we’re joining the Sovernet team with FirstLight as one organization and that we’ll continue to be able to serve customer needs in Vermont as well as all the other markets,” said Maura Mahoney, VP of marketing for FirstLight.

The service provider currently operates a regional fiber network serving customers throughout the Northeast, connecting more than 5,000 locations with an additional 20,000 locations serviceable by its 9,600-route mile fiber network.

Expanding ION’s capabilities

ION, acquired as part of the Sovernet deal, has its roots as a middle-mile provider serving mainly rural Tier 2 and 3 service providers in upstate New York.

In 2014, ION completed its $50 million network build-out into upstate New York. The network connected 60 rural upstate New York communities with over 2,200 miles of fiber-optic cable.

Sovernet was more focused on enterprises, while ION was focused on serving carrier needs. While the ION network gave FirstLight a larger fiber network it could use to pursue new wholesale opportunities, the service provider plans to leverage the network to also deliver enterprise services.

Van Wagenen said that FirstLight will continue to support the customer base with local sales and support while offering more business services.

“FirstLight has been active in both the enterprise and wholesale segments,” Van Wagenen said. “We view this as truly complementary combinations of these businesses and we’ll continue to maintain our local presence in these markets to support the customer base.”

Van Wagenen added that “this will provide more of a platform for us to invest in these markets by providing broadband services to more customers.”

From a business services perspective, FirstLight will extend the cloud capabilities it gained from acquiring Oxford Networks.

Prior to being bought by FirstLight, Oxford had developed a set of data center services, managed IT services, voice, internet and carrier services.

“One of the exciting things is Oxford came with a whole portfolio of cloud services, so what we have been doing is overlaying those cloud services into the existing FirstLight markets as well as Sovernet,” Mahoney said. “We see this as leveraging the experience that Oxford had and being able to provide additional capabilities to our existing customer base and be able to attract new customers.”

Integration on track

Now that it has completed the Sovernet and Oxford acquisitions, the next question is how the integration process is going.

The service provider said the integration process is on track with an eye toward making it transparent to customers.

Van Wagenen said as FirstLight completes this process the service provider will continue its efforts to focus on local needs.

“This branding gives us an opportunity to ensure our customers that we’re going to maintain our local presence in these markets and we believe that’s a key area against our competitors,” Van Wagenen said. “It means we’ll focus on providing local service, local sales and having people in all of these markets to make sure we’re providing the best level of service to our customers.”

Now that it has completed the Sovernet rebranding, the service provider will likely conduct a similar process when it completes its pending acquisition of Finger Lakes Technologies Group.

“We’re waiting for the remaining regulatory approvals so we’re making progress there,” Van Wagenen said.