School kids in class using a digital tablet

Zayo announced yesterday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Nashville-based Education Networks of America (ENA), a provider of managed network services to the education and public sector verticals.

ENA targets K-12, higher education, healthcare, library, and government organizations with a variety of network services, specializing in E-Rate funded programs. E-Rate is a program funded through the Universal Service Fund, providing funding to school systems and libraries for connectivity and other technology.

ENA has national reach. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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“As Zayo looks to expand its strong public sector capabilities and serve the critical connectivity needs of our nation’s education system, ENA brings the technology, geographic reach, and service delivery we need to help our customers thrive,” said Zayo president Andrés Irlando in a press release. “We are committed to expanding this business, providing enhanced services to ENA customers and supporting the ENA team as we drive growth and innovation together.”

The pandemic significantly raised the awareness of school and library connectivity, and equitable access to students regardless of location or income. That awareness led to a dramatic increase in funding targeting the education market, culminating with the $7.2 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF).

Technically a different program than E-Rate, the ECF was built on the E-Rate program but extended connectivity and equipment benefits to students’ and library patron’s homes. E-Rate focuses on funding for actual school and library facilities.

Previous ENA investor ZMC, a private equity firm, will exit its position upon closing the transaction.

ENA is the second acquisition this year for Boulder, Colorado-based Zayo. The company acquired SD-WAN services provider QOS Networks in January.

There was some speculation late last year that the company was on the hunt to acquire Windstream and Uniti, but nothing has happened on that front. At least not yet.

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