N.Y. broadband firm takes a bigger step into N.H. market

FirstLight Fiber acquires G4 Communications to expand in Granite State

FirstLight Fiber of Albany, N.Y. announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement to acquire G4 Communications, one of New Hampshire’s oldest Internet service providers, further consolidating state’s telecommunications industry and stepping up its challenge to FairPoint Communications and Comcast in the battle to gain share of the business broadband market.

The firm will acquire G4’s customer base – residential, business and institutional – and its data center in Manchester, one of the largest in the state, to add to its centers in Lebanon and Keene.

“This is an opportunity to expand in New Hampshire,” said James Capuano, FirstLight’s senior vice president of network operation. “This is not about cost synergies but about growth.”

FirstLight will continue offering residential service, but its main effort in New Hampshire will be to serve businesses and institutions with its own fiber-optic network, which spans 190,000 route miles over New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York, with its main conductivity to Canada.

The company – owned by Riverside Partners, a Boston private equity firm – started as Tech Valley Communications in 1999. It first entered the New Hampshire market in 2011 when it acquired SegTEL. In March, it worked out a deal with BayRing Communications, which is based at Pease International Tradeport, so it could use that company’s “dark fiber” network on the Seacoast and down into Boston.

Dark fiber enables companies to purchase bandwidth, but provide their own electronic controls, as opposed to paying BayRing for providing that service.

FirstLight claims – and most experts agree with it – that it has the largest broadband fiber network footprint in the state next to FairPoint and Comcast, and the only one that is almost exclusively used by businesses.

Since its founding in 2003, G4 has built up an institutional and business base, providing broadband as well as data center services.

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