FirstLight Fiber completes Oxford acquisition, boosts network to 415K fiber miles

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FirstLight Fiber’s new owner Oak Hill Capital Partners has completed its acquisition of Oxford Networks, combining the two companies to create a regional service provider with 415,000 fiber miles in the Northeast.

Novacap, Bank Street Capital Partners and Riverside Partners will continue as minority investors in the combined company. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

By completing this deal, FirstLight will enhance its reach in New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. The service provider will also offer a host of cloud, managed and colocation services out of 10 geographically diverse data centers.

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“The Oxford transaction more than doubles the size of the company, and it deepens our fiber footprint in Maine and New Hampshire and provides a unique, diverse route down to Boston,” said Kurt Van Wagenen, president and CEO of FirstLight, in an interview with FierceTelecom. “The combined company has expanded the number of data centers we operate from 5 to 10 data centers. FirstLight adds managed services and cloud services to our portfolio, which offers more comprehensive solutions to our customers, backed by locally-based service and support.”

Having access to a greater set of data centers illustrates FirstLight Fiber’s ability to capitalize on the growing need for enterprise customers for colocation to support cloud while raising its profile in the data center interconnection (DCI) market segment. For wireline operators that have been increasing their fiber footprint, DCI has become another wholesale growth target for service providers to extend their service set to other sets of customers while enabling the data center provider to reach key internet connection points.

“We do see data center interconnection as a growing market for data center/cloud/managed services and high capacity broadband,” Van Wagenen said. “Data center services have grown for both companies and we are excited about the combined service set.”

Van Wagenen added that “as cloud services become more prevalent, the importance of being able to access high quality, scalable fiber services to interconnect these key aggregation points will continue.”

RELATED: Oak Hill Capital acquires Oxford Networks, combines operations with FirstLight Fiber

But the combination of FirstLight and Oxford is just the first step in a broader effort to enhance its network reach. FirstLight is also in the process of purchasing middle mile provider Sovernet, an acquisition that will further increase its size and geographic footprint.

After meeting customary regulatory approvals, FirstLight expects to close the Sovernet deal early this year. Upon completion, FirstLight will operate a network spanning 9,500 route miles in five states and Canada, more than 5,000 on-net locations, and 11 data centers with 128,000 square feet of space.

“Sovernet further increases the size and capabilities of FirstLight,” Van Wagenen said. “It increases our fiber density in Vermont and extends our reach further west into Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester. The transaction also adds additional data center space in Burlington, VT, bringing our total to 11 data centers.”

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