Cable One snaps up ValueNet Fiber

In a move that further diversifies its network reach, Cable One confirmed that it has struck a deal to acquire ValueNet Fiber, an Emporia, Kansas-based provider of broadband and video services.

Cable One, which already provides cable service in the market, has not made a formal announcement or revealed the purchase price, but The Emporia Gazette reported that the deal is expected to close in the third quarter and that the ValueNet brand is expected to live on. ValueNet Fiber president and managing partner Rick Tidwell told local radio station KVOE that the deal will also enable the company to keep its employees and possibly expand its coverage area later.

ValueNet Fiber, a small company founded by a group of local investors in 2011, tends to lead with broadband (as Cable One does now) while also offering a mix of pay-TV bundling options.

In Emporia, ValueNet's high-end 1-Gig service starts at $129.95 per month. It also offers a 300 Mbit/s tier for $79.95 a month and a 150 Mbit/s service for $59.95. In additon, ValueNet Fiber sells Wi-Fi services in certain apartment buildings in its footprint, services for business customers, and a a premium whole-home Wi-Fi product with Plume for an additional $9.95 per month.

Notably, all of ValueNet's broadband services are not saddled with usage caps or usage-based pricing. Cable One, which has been rebranded as Sparklight, has relaxed its usage-based pricing temporarily during the pandemic and has indicated it will revisit and re-evaluate those policies. About 20% of Cable One's new customers had been opting for the company's unlimited plan.

Cable One's deal for ValueNet Fiber continues its relatively recent acquisitions of Fidelity Communications and Clearwave Communications and will further diversify its network access technologies.

Last month, for example, Cable One noted it had made small investments in two wireless ISPs that will help it reach rural parts of the country that are in close proximity to its traditional wireline footprint. Cable One is also on the list of companies that intends to bid on the FCC's auction of 3.5GHz CBRS spectrum getting underway in July.

"We are agnostic on the technology that will deliver broadband into rural America," said Julie Laulis, Cable One's president and CEO, said last month's on the company's earnings call. "We consider [broadband] our space, so we'll do whatever it takes to bring people the connectivity that they need."

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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