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Cable Business Services

Lightpath Fiber Lights 7,000 NY Buildings

Even as its revenue growth has slowed down, Lightpath is continuing to add new commercial buildings to its all-fiber network at a record pace.

Lightpath , the dedicated business services arm of Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), announced Wednesday that it has now lit up 7,000 commercial locations in the greater New York metro region. That represents a jump of more than 1,000 buildings in the past year. (See Lightpath Announces 7,000 Lit Locations.)

Lightpath -- whose network spans more than 5,800 fiber route miles throughout New York, Long Island, Westchester, southern Connecticut, and northern and central New Jersey -- said nearly half of the latest additions came in New Jersey. The Cablevision unit has been focusing heavily on that region over the last couple of years after saturating most of the rest of its territory.

Lightpath continues "to see considerable opportunity" in New Jersey, Julia McGrath, SVP and chief strategy officer, told Light Reading. This is "especially true given how underserved mid-market businesses are in this region. In many cases, when we expand into a new region, we are the first fiber providers to do so, opening a world of opportunity for businesses," she said.

Lightpath is particularly making inroads among middle-market firms spending between $1,500 and $30,000 a month on telecom and Internet services, McGrath said. The division concentrates on middle-market and larger firms spending at least $1,500 a month on telecom and Internet services, leaving smaller firms to another Cablevision unit.

In addition, McGrath said Lightpath is pursuing multi-tenant locations, "where there is opportunity to connect several customers." While the number of firms per location may vary, she said the unit "pays closest attention to buildings with tenants that look like existing Lightpath customers."

The latest Lightpath network expansion comes as more mid-sized firms, following the lead of larger enterprises, are seeking support for cloud-based services and applications, employee mobile devices, videoconferencing services, and other bandwidth-intensive applications. Lightpath executives say they are especially seeing this growing demand for more sophisticated services from the professional services market, including engineering, accounting, finance, insurance, real estate, and law firms.

The latest expansion wave also comes as Lightpath officials continue to seek ways to re-stoke the unit's revenue and income growth after several nearly flat quarters. In its latest earnings statement, Cablevision reported an uptick for Lightpath in the fourth quarter of 2013, with revenues rising almost 4% to $85 million and operating income more than doubling to $13.5 million on a year-over-year basis. The MSO credited the stronger gains to increases in Ethernet services revenues and a higher overall gross margin. (See Cablevision Bounces Back.)

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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