Consolidated Communications to Light Up 1 Gig for Additional 300,000 Homes and Businesses in 2021

Telco to leverages mix of its own funding and the RDOF auction to fund fiber builds to extend fiber coverage to at least 70 percent of its service area within five years.

 

  • Consolidated Communications

MATTOON, Ill. -- Consolidated Communications is going to leverage a mix of its own investments and that of the FCC;s Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF) Auction to accelerate its fiber builds and enable gigabit-capable services to an additional 300,000 homes and small businesses in 2021. This plan is coupled with Consolidated’s recent announcement and strategic partnership with Searchlight Capital Partners will future proof its network and upgrade a total of 1.6 million additional passings to fiber-gigabit services over a five-year period. The network investments will be made across seven states including more than 1 million passings within Northern New England.  

The incremental build CapEx will be partially offset by funding from the RDOF, which replaces the Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II Program. Consolidated secured $58.9 million in funding over 10 years across 246 census block groups located in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Illinois, Texas, Florida and Minnesota. The Company will pass 200,000 locations as it builds to 27,000 required RDOF locations over a five-year period.

“Consolidated’s accelerated fiber network expansion will provide significant benefits to customers, especially rural consumers and small businesses, who will be equipped to work from home, and fully participate in online learning and entertainment with significantly enhanced broadband services,” said Bob Udell, president and chief executive officer at Consolidated Communications.

“The work we did with CAF II funding and our history of extending our fiber deep into the markets we serve positions us very well to accelerate our fiber build at a cost-effective rate per passing,” added Udell. “As a result of our ongoing asset review and the RDOF auction, we will build to an additional 150,000 near-net passings in areas without RDOF funding, but have attractive returns due to the proximity of our resources and fiber network. We will offer a highly competitive, symmetrical multi-gigabit service with superior technology and a best-in-class customer experience.”

Consolidated recently completed a refinancing and recapitalization of its balance sheet with the Searchlight investment and reported reduced leverage of 3.5x and a $250 million untapped revolver with approximately $100 million in cash at the end of the third quarter.

 

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