The year 2023 was another big one for telecom and broadband mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
Investment firms continue to be major players, lured by the possibility of upgrading network infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas. Being the first to deploy fiber in these areas positions a company to be the dominant player there.
Fixed wireless also continues to be a hot investment area, although some of these deals also are fiber-focused, as some wireless ISPs shift technologies. And quite a few rural providers made acquisitions of their own.
Below you’ll find every deal Telecompetitor covered in 2023 and how each one figures into today’s M&A marketplace.
The Bigger Players
Several of the nation’s larger broadband providers were involved in M&A deals in 2023.
Altafiber (formerly Cincinnati Bell) announced plans to buy the assets of Ohio fiber network operator BridgeWired. Ziply said it would buy Ptera, a fiber and fixed wireless provider serving four counties in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. And Consolidated announced its intentions to be acquired by Searchlight Capital Partners, which already owns 34.3% of the company, and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation.
Investment firms continue to be very active in acquiring broadband providers. Sometimes they buy rural local exchange carriers (RLECs), some of whom have been in business for over 100 years. In other cases, they buy competitive providers founded more recently, including fixed wireless providers, utility-owned broadband providers and other types of companies.
Here are some of the investment firms that announced broadband acquisitions in 2023.
- Antin Infrastructure Partners acquired assets of Empire Access and North Penn.
- Bain and Post Road own competitive provider Surf Internet, which acquired fiber assets of another competitive provider, MiSignal.
- CBRE Investment Management said it would acquire Gateway Fiber.
- GI Partners acquired Rise Broadband, a fixed wireless consolidator that has begun to shift toward fiber, as well as utility-owned broadband provider DQE.
- Goldman Sachs owns Imon, a competitive provider that bought another competitive provider Fiber Comm.
- Infrared Capital Partners owns LiveOak Fiber, which plans to acquire assets of rural local exchange carrier ATC Broadband.
- Mega Broadband Investments owns Vyve Broadband, which bought the commercial business of ATC Broadband.
- Palisade Infrastructure bought Rainier Connect and changed its name to Lightcurve.
- SDC Capital Partners acquired a majority interest in competitive provider Cityside Networks.
- Wren House Infrastructure owns i3 Broadband, which acquired Big River Broadband.
And in a rather unique deal, subsidiaries of investment firm DigitalBridge Operating Company acquired AMP Capital’s global infrastructure equity investment management business.
Fixed Wireless Deals
Fixed wireless deals included:
- 360 Communications and 903 Broadband merged and will offer fixed wireless and fiber broadband.
- Earthlink acquired wireless ISP One Ring Networks.
- Element8, a fiber and fixed wireless provider, bought wireless ISP AtLink Services.
- GigFire, formerly LTD Broadband, acquired Rural Comm, which offers fixed wireless and fiber broadband.
- Fixed wireless provider Gigstream acquired Warp2Biz, which offers fiber and fixed wireless broadband.
- Nextlink, a fixed wireless provider that has shifted towards fiber, acquired wireless ISP Echo Wireless and fiber network operator Bluestem Networks.
- Vistabeam acquired Airbits.
RLECs as Acquirers
Several RLECs made or announced plans for acquisitions of their own.
- Arvig bought a fiber network from ALP Utilities.
- Lightstream said it would buy another RLEC, Monon Telephone Company.
- NKTelco acquired Hometown Cable.
- Shentel made plans to acquire competitive provider Horizon Telcom.
- Winn Telephone sought to merge with Peninsula Fiber.
This and That
Other deals we reported on this year couldn’t be easily categorized:
- Rural broadband consolidator LICT acquired RLEC Manti Telephone.
- Ozark Fiber bought Missouri Telecom assets.
Telecompetitor looks forward to bringing you more M&A news in 2024. If broadband M&A is an area of interest to you, please consider bookmarking this post.