News from Fiber Minnesota…
Fiber Minnesota, LLC, a Minnesota fiber-optic transport carrier announced it has merged with fiber transport providers Broadband Visions (BBV) and SM Broadband (SMB) to create one of MN’s largest fiber transport networks.
The deal increases the Fiber Minnesota backbone network by more than 60% to a total of 3,900 route miles of fiber. The merged networks will operate under the Fiber Minnesota brand.
Combining the assets of these networks will enable MN’s rural telecom and broadband providers to deliver increasingly advanced services to consumers and carriers, faster and more efficiently.
“This merger is the culmination of 18 months of work, resulting in one of the largest and most robust fiber networks in the state, providing significant benefits for
consumers, enterprise customers, carriers, major wireless providers, the owners and the entire State,” said Jason Dale, Fiber Minnesota CEO. “As technology and rural
transport economics have changed, it’s clear that a unified state-wide network is a key ingredient to remaining relevant in the transport world. By combining these
complementary networks, we’ve taken another huge step forward. We are extremely excited for the opportunities this new combined network provides.”
The expanded Fiber Minnesota footprint connects nearly all corners of the state with multiple redundant routes, including rural areas often bypassed by other players.
This merger comes after the successful 2020 acquisition by Cooperative Network Services (CNS) of the WCTG fiber network, its integration with the original CNS network, and the subsequent launch of subsidiary Fiber Minnesota for all CNS network operations. The members of BBV and SMB join CNS as shareholders of Fiber Minnesota, together representing 33 different owners or ownership groups, most of which are operating companies / ISPs serving rural Minnesota and neighboring areas. BBV continues
to operate its video headend and Internet services divisions, while SMB has completely merged into Fiber Minnesota.
According to Glenn Zerbe, Board Chair of BBV / President of Nuvera Communications, “The broad ownership base is an advantage for Fiber Minnesota as it partners with its own shareholders for the connectivity of its core network to a staggering network of last-mile fiber throughout the
state. Consumers and institutions, especially those in rural areas, will experience a higher degree of reliability for broadband and related services. All three of these networks complement each other, and their combination removes redundancies and offers greater scale. The ability to keep
more traffic on-net is imperative as the transport network industry evolves.”
The motivation to combine these networks was clear with BBV, CNS and SMB all having multiple shareholders in common, and each network having significant overlapping segments with the others. However, it was still a tall order to rally all the companies involved.
“There have been multiple efforts over the years to put our statewide independent network back together here in Minnesota. We were fortunate this time around with the right people, the right model, and the right time for it all to come together. The benefits of this merger would not have
been possible without the fantastic leadership of the BBV, SMB, CNS, and FM management teams and shareholders,” said Bill Eckles, President of SMB / CEO of Bevcomm. “The merged network fits strategically for the long term provision of critical broadband services.”
Similar to surrounding states Minnesota’s fiber transport landscape has long been made up of smaller regional networks, but as technology and the industry have evolved, so too has the need for a larger, unified network. For years, Minnesota has differed from neighboring states, where the independent telecommunications / broadband providers joined forces decades ago to create statewide networks – enjoying robust facilities and advanced centralized solutions.
“This is a big win for the independent telecom providers in MN and for the customers they serve,” said Dean Bahls, Fiber Minnesota’s Network Operations Manager.
“Minnesota has now achieved the ‘statewide fiber network’ many other surrounding states have enjoyed for years.
The increased footprint will provide direct connectivity to nearly all of the independent ISPs in the state as well as connectivity to many more on-net customers throughout the state. Additionally, adding diverse connections to wholesale Internet providers and peering exchanges will be more cost-effective now and help contain
costs in the future — a key ingredient to a sustainable business model for rural
broadband providers in serving their customers, especially those in Greater
Minnesota and neighboring areas.”
Integration of the three networks will be phased over the next 24 to 36 months.
Streamlined quoting and turn-up With the increase of on-net route miles, quoting circuits will be faster, and pricing will be more competitive. Customers will enjoy highly available services, with faster resolution times.
Network of Networks
As with the current Fiber Minnesota network, through partnership with 702 Communications, the combined network will participate in the Aurora Fiber Optic Networks brand (aurorafonet.com), and through that partnership will continue to be a part of the INDATEL nationwide “network of networks”.