FirstLightFiber, Oxford Networks combine network operations

05 January 2017 | Jason McGee-Abe


Oak Hill Capital Partners has completed its acquisition of Oxford Networks and combined its operations with FirstLight Fiber, creating a 415,000 fibre mile network with 10 data centres.

Metro Event

In March 2016, Oak Hill announced that it had reached a definitive agreement to acquire FirstLight Fiber, which was completed in September 2016, and in July last year a similar agreement was reached to acquire Oxford Networks from its equity partners. The combined high-capacity, fibre-optic network runs through New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, with ten data centres offering cloud, managed and colocation services.

“The acquisition of Oxford more than doubles the size of our business, dramatically increases our scale and network reach, and better positions FirstLight to continue meeting the growing bandwidth infrastructure needs of our customers,” said Kurt Van Wagenen, president and CEO of FirstLight.

“FirstLight and Oxford are highly complementary in terms of fibre footprint, service set, customer base, employee expertise and mission, which will ease integration efforts. We expect this to be a seamless transaction for our customers and significantly enhance our operating platform as we continue to grow the business.”

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

Craig Gunderson, president and CEO of Oxford Networks, said: “Serving our customers has always been our main priority, and we are confident that combined with FirstLight, we are better positioned to continue to do so. We look forward to working together to realise the promise that this combination creates.”

Scott Baker and Benjy Diesbach, partners at Oak Hill and members of the FirstLight Board of Directors, added, “Closing the acquisition of Oxford is an important milestone for both FirstLight and Oak Hill.  This transaction represents an exciting next step in our plan to create the leading fiber provider in the Northeastern U.S.  The combined company, along with the previously announced acquisition of Sovernet Communications, will form an entity that has an exceptional foundation to serve the needs of both regional enterprises and communications carriers.”

The Sovernet transaction, which is expected to close in early 2017, will further increase the size and geographic footprint of FirstLight. The Bellows Falls-based telecom provider also offers “middle mile” fibre and in 2010 received a $33.4 million federal stimulus to build a fibre-optic network in Vermont.

Once complete, the FirstLight-Sovernet merger will combine Sovernet’s high-capacity network transport, broadband Internet, and voice services with FirstLight’s complete portfolio of data, Internet, data center and voice services, which are backed by strong, locally-based service and support.

Sovernet’s president and CEO Richard Kendall said last year: “Sovernet has become a regional leader in high-capacity network transport, broadband internet and voice services, but this transaction will allow us to do even more to serve our customers. We begin a new chapter with FirstLight, which shares our commitment to excellence and is ready to take us to new heights.”