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Optical/IP Networks

FiberLight CEO's vision extends beyond core connectivity

Connectivity is core to FiberLight's business, but the company, under CEO Chris Rabii, is pursuing a path to become much more.

FiberLight is in the midst of a plan to evolve from a "largely construction-focused company, to one that's trying to be more compelling in the services arena," says Rabii, a former exec with Cablevision Lightpath and Altice Business who joined FiberLight roughly two years ago.

While there are other examples of companies that have successfully made that transition, "there's work we need to do to be good at those things," Rabii said on the Light Reading Podcast.

But infrastructure and connectivity are certainly at FiberLight's core. The company operates about 17,000 route miles of fiber around 78,000 pre-qualified or near-net buildings across 30 US metro areas, with a principal presence in Texas and Northern Virginia. Tied into that infrastructure play, FiberLight's business spans both wholesale and channel relationships, including activity with enterprise customers and hyperscalers.

FiberLight's strategy is being pursued amid other big changes underway, namely a deal to be acquired by Morrison & Co., a New Zealand-based infrastructure fund.

Rabii said more details will be shared when the transaction closes. "But I think their long-term view on investment in the infrastructure space is a perfect fit for us," he added.

FiberLight isn't directly involved in the residential services business, but its infrastructure and connectivity capabilities will put it in the game for federal funds that are being funneled into projects to bring broadband into unserved and underserved areas.

"We will have a seat at the table … whether it's the seat right at the table, or the seat behind the guy who's sitting at the table," Rabii said. "There are some specific middle-mile grants, and I think we'll be participating directly in those in the States or the markets and territories where we feel we have strength and can put a compelling case together."

You can download a lightly edited transcript of the podcast here. If you want to skip around and listen, here are a few topics discussed during this podcast:

  • A review of FiberLight's network reach and business focus (1:15)
  • Why the recent M&A agreement with Morrison & Co. makes strategic sense for FiberLight and what will happen as the deal moves through the approval process (3:50)
  • FiberLight's other priorities for 2023, including growth prospects and how the company intends to differentiate in the market (6:30)
  • How Texas has become a hotbed of opportunity as some companies open up new locations or transition their presence to The Lone Star State (10:00)
  • How the pandemic impacted the direction and focus of FiberLight (13:15)
  • Opportunities the company sees on the horizon, particularly for middle-mile connectivity, as more funds are funneled into rural broadband projects and initiatives (16:30)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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