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Cable One and partners team up to form fiber-fueled JV

Cable One started off 2022 by announcing it has formed a new joint venture with three partners aimed at growing Cable One's Clearwave Fiber LLC business unit.

Clearwave Fiber contains Cable One's subsidiary Clearwave Communications and certain fiber assets of Cable One's subsidiary Hargray Communications. Cable One acquired Clearwave Communications in 2018, and snapped up the equity interest in Hargray that it did not already own in February 2021.

In addition to Cable One, other investors tied to the JV include affiliates of Stephens Capital Partners, The Pritzker Organization and GTCR, a private equity firm with investments in areas such as healthcare, financial services, technology and telecommunications.

Cable One owns a majority stake in Clearwave Fiber, noting that the other investors are "committed to making substantial cash investments to support the acceleration of Clearwave Fiber's expansion," but did not spell out any specific financial targets. The investors will be represented on the board for the JV and "have certain governance rights."

However, Cable One did note that the operations contributed to the JV by Cable One represent about 3% of its consolidated revenues for the three months ended September 30, 2021. Based on Cable One's total Q3 2021 revenues of $430.2 million, that would put the JV's contributed operations in the neighborhood of $12.9 million.

The Clearwave Fiber JV intends to "invest heavily" in bringing fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) services to residential and business customers across the unit's existing footprint and to near-adjacent areas.

Clearwave Fiber is led by executive chairman Michael Gottdenker and CEO David Armistead, two execs who were part of Hargray's exec team from 2007 through its 2021 sale to Cable One.

"This strategic investment will help accelerate the deployment of fiber-based broadband services to a range of markets, including underserved areas of the country,” Gottdenker said in a statement.

Fiber optic cables.  
(Source: Pixabay)

Fiber optic cables.
(Source: Pixabay)

Outline of plan introduced last year

Cable One revealed elements of the plan in early November, announcing it was pursuing a new growth strategy that might see the company place some fiber assets into a joint venture tasked with accelerating FTTP deployments in rural areas.

The plan fits a trend as various US telcos and cable operators continue to take aim at unserved and underserved portions of the country with FTTP deployments either through direct, internal investment or with help from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and other government-run broadband funding programs.

WideOpenWest, for example, announced last month that it intends to build out FTTP networks to greenfield markets passing at least 200,000 homes and businesses by 2027, with the potential to up that total to 400,000 locations.

Across the pond, Liberty Networks Germany, a 50/50 FTTP of Liberty Global Ventures and InfraVia Capital, has begun to build FTTP to targeted, greenfield areas under the "helloFiber" brand.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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