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Lumen completes $7.5bn sale of operations in 20 states to Brightspeed

Bob Mudge Brightspeed.jpg

Lumen has completed the US$7.5 billion sale of its local fibre and copper networks in 20 US states to a private equity-owned operation, Brightspeed.

Brightspeed said it is now the fifth largest independent local exchange carrier (ILEC) in the US, covering more than 6.5 million locations in mainly rural and suburban communities across the mid-west, south-east, and parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Lumen, formerly CenturyLink, will retain operations in 16 other states, from Washington state to Arizona and New Mexico.

Bob Mudge (pictured), CEO of Brightspeed, said the company would “start work to accelerate reliable connectivity for existing and new customers across our footprint”.

Brightspeed has started the buildout of its fibre network, planning to complete over a million new passings across 17 states during the initial phase of construction to the end of 2023.

Its planned investment of at least $2 billion in its fibre network transformation will cover more than 3 million homes and businesses over the next five years, primarily targeting locations where fibre and advanced technology have not historically been deployed.

Mudge said: “We believe internet equals opportunity for households and businesses alike and are committed to making an impact on the rural-urban digital divide.”

Brightspeed’s owner is Apollo, a New York Stock Exchange quoted investor.

“We are fortunate to have an exceptional strategic partner in Apollo, whose significant investment speaks volumes about the potential of our service area and what fiber technology can do to further the growth and competitiveness of our communities,” said Mudge.

Aaron Sobel, private equity partner at Apollo, said: “Since the transaction was first announced a little over a year ago, the need for faster, more reliable connectivity in underserved communities has only continued to grow. Brightspeed has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring advanced fiber technology to millions of customers.”

The move reverses a series of mergers by the former management of CenturyLink, which saw it absorb Embarq, the demerged operations of Sprint – later itself merged into T-Mobile US – and other local businesses.