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FiberLight CEO's vision extends beyond core connectivity

Season 2

Connectivity is core to FiberLight's business, but the company, under CEO Chris Rabii, is pursuing a path to be 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. FiberLight 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 so-called 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 detail 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 said.

FiberLight isn't directly involved in the residential services business, but its infrastructure and connectivity capabilities will still put it in the game for federal funds that are being funneled into projects to bring broadband into underserved 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 a recent M&A agreement with Morrison and Company, a New Zealand-based infrastructure fund, makes strategic sense for FiberLight and what's on the horizon as the deal moves through the approval process (3:50) 
  • Beyond getting that pending transaction completed, what are FiberLight's 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 the company (13:15) 
  • How FiberLight sees opportunities on the horizon as more funds are funneled into rural broadband projects and initiatives (16:30) 

—Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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