FirstLight’s Van Wagenen: Sovernet buy enhances our Northeast fiber network density

two utility workers setting up a fiber cabinet on a sidewalk
The acquisition will add about 3,300 fiber route miles across New York. This includes 1,300 fiber route miles throughout Vermont and Sovernet’s Tier III data center in Burlington, Vermont.  

FirstLight Fiber has completed its acquisition of Sovernet Communications, deepening its fiber reach in the northeastern U.S.

By completing this acquisition, FirstLight will combine Sovernet’s high-capacity network transport, broadband internet, data center and voice services in Vermont and New York with FirstLight’s complete portfolio of data, internet, data center, cloud and voice services.

“We view this as a very positive development for FirstLight, its customers and employees,” said Kurt Van Wagenen, president and CEO of FirstLight, in an email to FierceTelecom. “The acquisition of Sovernet/ION by FirstLight builds on our prior acquisitions of Segtel, TelJet, G4 and Oxford and furthers our goal of creating the most extensive fiber-based communications services provider operating in the Northeast providing the solutions our customers require to thrive in the digital age.”

Deepening New York, Vermont reach

Sovernet will help FirstLight further its fiber and network breadth in New York and Vermont. Specifically, the acquisition will add about 3,300 fiber route miles across New York. This includes 1,300 fiber route miles throughout Vermont and Sovernet’s Tier III data center in Burlington, Vermont.  


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One of the elements that Sovernet brings to the table is the Independent Optical Network (ION). ION was initially founded by a group of independent telcos to provide much needed backhaul bandwidth capabilities for the rural markets they served.

In 2014, ION completed its $50 million network buildout into upstate New York as well as part of Pennsylvania.

Van Wagenen said that it will be able to now pursue new opportunities in rural markets that have not been properly served by large telcos and cable operators.

“FirstLight remains committed to serving the broadband infrastructure needs of businesses (enterprise and carrier) throughout its footprint including rural/tier 2 communities,” Van Wagenen said.

Integration ahead

The next stage of the Sovernet deal is to integrate the assets into its growing fold, one that’s been growing through various acquisitions.

Van Wagenen said in a release that “we expect this to be a seamless integration.”

First Light has had a very busy year on the M&A front.

Besides closing the Sovernet deal, the service provider completed its acquisition of Oxford Networks, while announcing the acquisition of Finger Lakes Technologies Group.

By making these acquisitions, FirstLight will soon operate a regional network consisting of about 12,000 route miles of high-capacity fiber in six states and Canada. This includes 7,000 on-net building locations and 12 data centers totaling more than 225,000 square feet of space strategically located throughout its footprint. 

“We have a proven track record of continual investment in our capabilities to expand our network and our reach and we expect to do so in the markets that we recently acquired through this transaction,” Van Wagenen said.

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