Month: September 2021

D/9 Digital Infrastructure logo

Digital 9 Infrastructure Raises £275m in Oversubscribed Issue

Source: Investment Week UK

Digital 9 Infrastructure has raised £275m following the results of its placing programme which was significantly over-subscribed.

The investment firm which invests in a range of digital infrastructure assets raised £275m through the issue of 255.8m shares at 107.5p per share. The issue price represents a 4.0% premium to the NAV as of 30 June and an 8.7% discount to the pre-announcement closing share price of 117.8p.

Directors including Jack Waters, Keith Mansfield and Lisa Harrington have subscribed for over 57.2k new shares, whilst members of the investment manager’s team, Thor Johnsen and Andre Karihaloo have subscribed for 209.3k new shares

Jack Waters, chair of Digital 9 Infrastructure said: “The drivers of digital infrastructure are increasing rapidly as more of our lives move online, fundamentally changing the way we work, shop and socialise. These long-term changes in behaviour have been accelerated by, or result from, the Covid-19 pandemic as well as more fundamental trends in data usage.”

“Our existing shareholders and new investors have identified the opportunity that investing in D9 represents – a means for them to participate in this exciting sector at a critical point in time,” said Waters.

Digital 9 Infrastructure which launched in February this year, raising £300m at IPO, will use the proceeds to invest in its pipeline of investment opportunities.https://bed82c0b628f5a81ba11705bb67cbaa1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Its string of acquisitions includes Aqua Comms, a platform which owns and operates 14,300km of trans-Atlantic sub-sea fibre systems for £170m. Digital 9 raised a further £175m for the platform in June.

More recently, the fund acquired a Nordic Data Centre for £231m, representing a multiple of 20x contracted run-rate EBITDA with a base cash yield of 7%+.

Digital 9 targets total returns of 10% pa include a 6p year one dividend (5.6% yield on the issue price).

The admission of the new shares and dealings in the new shares is expected to commence at 8:00am, on 1 October 2021.

CBRE Investment Management logo

CBRE Caledon Invests in Wireless Tower Companies

Source: Inside Towers

CBRE Caledon Capital Management (CBRE Caledon) is set to acquire from American Infrastructure Funds and other shareholders, a majority equity interest in CitySwitch Tower Holdings (CitySwitch), a build-to-suit wireless tower developer and operator. CBRE Caledon, an infrastructure and private equity firm based in Toronto, Ontario, is making the investment on behalf of one of its funds and a separately managed account. CBRE Caledon is a business unit within CBRE Group’s investment management subsidiary, CBRE Global Investors.

CitySwitch has a significant tower portfolio diversified across 25 states in the eastern United States and is in 72 of the top 100 metro areas. The company specializes in railroad asset development along rail corridors with access to over 40,000 track miles of railway rights-of-way in 43 states. As is a pioneer in railroad asset development, CitySwitch delivers unique and differentiated tower locations to national and local carriers such as AT&T and Southern Linc, and railroad tenants including CSX and Norfolk Southern, along with government agencies.  

FCC filings show that CitySwitch currently has 224 sites, with 152 built and 72 granted but not constructed. The company has developed and manages over 500 towers on public and private properties. The newly constructed portfolio of operating towers has long-term anchor contracts with more than 85 years of remaining contract life. 

The company is well-positioned to expand its build-to-suit pipeline and accelerate its tower count through organic growth. “CitySwitch is poised to benefit from the unprecedented long-term growth opportunity in wireless infrastructure,” says Noi Spyratos, Head of Private Infrastructure Portfolio Management for CBRE Caledon. “The company’s unique access to rail corridors has resulted in an attractive asset base with high potential for future lease-up activity.”

CitySwitch management will retain an equity stake in the company, and the business will continue to be led by President & CEO, Rob Raville. “With American Infrastructure Funds’ strong support, CitySwitch has created one of the fastest-growing organically built wireless tower portfolios in the U.S.,” Raville says. “The CitySwitch team is very excited to partner with CBRE Caledon in our journey ahead. We look forward to building on our strong momentum of bringing highly differentiated build-to-suit and colocation solutions to our carrier customers as they expand and densify their digital networks.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected to close in late September or early October 2021.

Equinix logo

Equinix Boosts 5G And Edge Ecosystem Innovation With Nokia

Source: Equinix

 Equinix, Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX), the world’s digital infrastructure company™, today announced it has deployed a first-of-its-kind, fully functional 5G and Edge Technology Development Center which includes a fully operational, non-standalone 5G network from Nokia to test and validate various 5G services and use cases. Equinix is investing in helping service providers and network operators bring innovative concepts to market by providing an agile production framework for assessing, incubating and testing 5G and edge solutions for end-to-end secure applications.

The 5G and Edge Technology Development Center—located at the Equinix DA11 International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data center in Dallas—brings together select ecosystem participants to develop end-to-end edge solutions by providing a production-ready interconnection sandbox environment from the radio network to the cloud. Mobile network operators (MNOs), cloud platforms, technology vendors and enterprises come together at Equinix to test, demonstrate and accelerate complex 5G and edge scenarios—key activities that will make 5G deployments available to enterprises in the future. Equinix Fabric™ directly, securely and dynamically connects distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems on Platform Equinix®. Customers can establish data center-to-data center network connections on demand between any two Equinix Fabric locations within a metro or globally via software-defined interconnection.

“As we look to a future where 5G is ubiquitous, the way that IP traffic moves between networks around the world will change completely, and interconnected data centers will play a crucial role in this new 5G-dominated future,” said Sean Hemphill, VP Webscale Business at Nokia. “Equinix’s approach to digital infrastructure enables access to a large ecosystem of end users and service providers. Nokia IP solutions underpin Equinix Fabric, providing seamless interconnection between its global data centers. We’re pleased that Equinix Fabric will bring the power of interconnection to help customers test real-world 5G and edge deployments.”

The Dallas-based 5G and Edge Technology Development Center will initially focus on the following use cases:

  • Mobile Hybrid Multicloud Connectivity: Assessing strategies for ensuring that 5G user traffic can reach multiple clouds and hybrid edge computing resources, effectively and efficiently.
  • Network Slicing: Aiming to facilitate private wireless enterprise networks supporting secure, predictable, end-to-end quality of experience.
  • Distributed Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Investigating the optimization of AI/ML applications and infrastructure distributed across the edge, directly connected to 5G, and interconnected to clouds for enabling data-dense capabilities, such as scene and video analytics.
  • Enablement and Orchestration of Infrastructure: Exploring optimal deployment strategies for 5G RAN, fronthaul, core and edge computing infrastructure and functions management across domains.
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality: Validating a uniform experience, consistent quality and anywhere usage with high mobility and high motion.
  • Gaming: Demonstrating responsive hosted-gaming, low-latency peripherals leveraging the metro edge for delivery.

Equinix is actively standing up novel 5G use cases. The first use case is Secure Edge from Exium, which enables highly secure, seamless multi-access edge compute functionality with tightly integrated security and network functions from the cloud, to edge locations, to the devices themselves. With Exium deployed at Equinix data centers, customers get close to on-prem performance with the benefits of cloud aggregation and also manage enterprise-grade traffic breakout in real time.

“Applications and artificial intelligence are moving to the edge, whether we’re ready or not,” said Farooq Muzaffar, COO, Exium. “As enterprises embrace digital transformation, automation and intelligence at the edge, it’s crucial to have a partner like Equinix. The 5G and Edge Technology Development Center has been an incredible resource for us and our customers as we incubate, develop and deploy secure edge AI services with 5G access.”

The Equinix 2020-21 Global Tech Trends Survey—which surveyed 2,600 IT decision makers—uncovered a crucial need for infrastructure technology exploration in this area. While most respondents agreed that the biggest impact of 5G is the ability it gives businesses to take advantage of new technologies, more than a third worried about the need to re-architect infrastructure to take advantage of 5G capabilities.

“As companies develop new 5G technologies and services, they need a real-world environment to test and bring their concepts to life,” said Justin Dustzadeh, CTO, Equinix. “With Equinix’s rich ecosystem of service providers, partners and clouds, the 5G and Edge Technology Development Center is an ideal place to fully test their concepts in a real way, enabling them to bring new capabilities to market, accelerate adoption and deliver new revenue streams faster.”

Jim Poole, VP Business Development, Equinix added, “We’re excited to invite private enterprises, commercial organizations and researchers across industries to Dallas to test, validate and accelerate complex 5G deployments and interoperability scenarios.”

Investing in Digital America

September 24, 2021

In the coming months, the U.S. federal government will likely pass an infrastructure bill. The total amount is in flux — $1, $2, $3.5 or $4.5 trillion. The following is a short list of what seems to be some of the items common across the various iterations of the legislation:

  • More than $110 billion to rebuild, repair, and modernize roads and bridges: This could include money for fiber, cell sites (small and maybe macro), C-V2X roadside units, IoT sensors, cameras, etc.
  • $66 billion to improve Amtrak and modernizing public transit: Again, more fiber along the tracks, cellular/wireless capabilities, sensors, cameras, etc.
  • More than $7 billion for electric vehicles and charging stations. Each of those could provide cellular service across multiple bands and would be good spots for new fiber. Also, IoT sensors could also be installed.
  • More than $25 billion to upgrade airports; some of that money could go to fiber and DAS, small cells, edge compute, V2X, IoT, etc.
  • $100 billion to upgrade and build public schools: The pandemic is showing how school district are using CBRS-based FWA to provide broadband service to their communities. Schools are ideal “hubs” for fiber, cellular, etc. And while they are at, why not introduce courses that take students through the sites, so they understand how the Internet is getting to their devices? Maybe some will even want to learn how to install and/or fix those sites – or get involved in related STEM programs.
  • $55 billion to modernize drinking water and waste processing. Again, fiber, sensors, cameras, etc.
  • $48 billion to develop the American workforce – match older workers with students. They can learn from each other about how to build, fix and otherwise digitally transform America.

Don’t hold me to the numbers cited; they may change, just as the items themselves might.

My point is simply that forthcoming infrastructure investments could include – should include – digital components. As an example, most of the cost of deploying fiber is in the physical process and labor of associated with trenching and/or boring and then installing the conduit and then pulling the fiber through. The cost of making that trench a little deeper and/or the conduit a little bigger and pulling more fiber through, while not insignificant, is minor compared to the expense associated with going back in a few years’ time. Dig once, benefit for years.

IQ Fiber logo

SDC Capital Partners Closes Investment in IQ Fiber

Source: PRNewswire

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–SDC Capital Partners, LLC (“SDC”) announced today that funds managed by SDC have acquired a majority interest in IQ Fiber, LLC, a new residential fiber-optic internet provider headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. The transaction provides IQ Fiber with significant equity funding to complete the first phase of its all-fiber network build, passing more than 60,000 homes in the Jacksonville area.

“We are thrilled to partner with IQ Fiber in its initial launch in Jacksonville and are excited about the larger opportunity in Northeast Florida and beyond”Tweet this

“Consumers deserve a smarter internet choice,” said IQ Fiber CEO Ted Schremp. “High-speed internet has become a necessity and is truly the heartbeat of the modern home. With the launch of IQ Fiber, Jacksonville residents will soon have access to a state-of-the-art, 100% fiber-optic network with gigabit upload and download speeds, simple subscription plans and service experts who live and work in our community.”

“We are thrilled to partner with IQ Fiber in its initial launch in Jacksonville and are excited about the larger opportunity in Northeast Florida and beyond,” said Clinton Karcher, partner at SDC. “IQ Fiber’s commitment to providing exceptional customer service, coupled with state-of-the-art fiber network infrastructure in an underserved market, creates a formula for success.”

IQ Fiber plans to offer simple month-to-month rates with no hidden fees, surcharges or surprise price increases. IQ Fiber’s three service plans will deliver symmetrical internet speeds between 250 and 1,000 Mbps, with whole-home Wi-Fi service always included.

Fiber to the home represents the state-of-the-art for the delivery of broadband services, yet it is accessible to only 36% of the U.S. population. Compounding the consumer challenge, approximately 83 million Americans can only access broadband through a single provider. With today’s announcement, Jacksonville will soon have the freedom to choose a 100% fiber-optic network with simple, no-hassle plans, supported by local experts.

About IQ Fiber

IQ Fiber, LLC, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, is a private equity-backed fiber-optic internet service provider. IQ Fiber is transforming the residential broadband market by offering a 100% fiber-optic network; stress-free plans with no data caps, contracts or hidden fees; and live, local experts to solve any problem that may arise. IQ Fiber plans to rapidly expand its residential fiber network throughout Northeast Florida. For more information, visit iqfiber.com.

About SDC Capital Partners

SDC Capital Partners, LLC is a global digital infrastructure investment firm. SDC invests in data centers, fiber networks, wireless infrastructure and associated businesses, with a focus on opportunities to leverage its deep operational expertise in partnership with exceptional teams to create value. For more information, please visit www.sdccapitalpartners.com.

Wells Fargo logo

Wells Fargo Announces New Digital Infrastructure Strategy and Strategic Partnerships With Microsoft, Google Cloud

Source: Business Wire

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) announced today its new digital infrastructure strategy, combining a multi-cloud approach with third-party data centers to drive technological speed, agility, and scalability for its customers and employees. Central to the digital infrastructure strategy is Wells Fargo’s selection of two industry leaders as its public cloud providers: Microsoft Azure as its primary public cloud provider and Google Cloud providing additional business-critical public cloud services.

“Launching our new digital infrastructure strategy is a critical step in our multiyear journey to transform Wells Fargo, making it easier for customers to do business with us and creating a better working experience for our employees,” said Saul Van Beurden, Wells Fargo’s head of Technology. “The Wells Fargo of tomorrow will be digital-first and offer easier-to-use products and services, and all of that starts with driving speed, scalability, and enhanced user experience through the next generation digital infrastructure strategy we’re announcing today.”

Wells Fargo will leverage the Microsoft Azure platform to empower the creation of innovative solutions across all bank functions and provide a trusted and secure foundation for strategic business workloads. The two companies will partner to use critical data and analytics services to accelerate Wells Fargo’s digital transformation, including delivering enhanced customer experiences and enabling increased employee collaboration. Google Cloud will drive advanced workloads, and complex artificial intelligence and data solutions, allowing the company to move faster on driving personalized experiences for its customers and clients.

An integral part of the digital infrastructure strategy is a secure and compliant cloud platform that will provide protections to safeguard the data, privacy, and financial assets of Wells Fargo’s customers, with a focus on data confidentiality.

“Wells Fargo and Microsoft have a longstanding relationship, and we are excited to build on that foundation to accelerate Wells Fargo’s digital transformation journey,” said Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Microsoft Azure is empowering financial services institutions with its secure, compliant, and scalable platform for industry cloud solutions needs, including for advanced and complex workloads. By standardizing on the Microsoft cloud and trusting Azure as its most strategic and primary cloud platform across all lines of business, Wells Fargo will be able to advance its key business and technology transformation priorities across core areas like managing risk and control, personalized banking, and the digital branch of the future.”

“We’re proud to support Wells Fargo on its multi-cloud journey, with artificial intelligence and data solutions that will not only transform the business but also power the future of personalized experiences for its customers and clients,” said Rob Enslin, president, Google Cloud. “Google Cloud is committed to providing financial institutions with cloud technology that empowers banks to evolve, and to create digital experiences that customers demand.”

As an additional element of the new digital infrastructure strategy, Wells Fargo will transition to a set of third-party-owned data centers, while the company’s longer-term aspirations are to rely predominantly on public cloud. These facilities will complement the public cloud offerings of Microsoft and Google Cloud with both private cloud and traditional hosting services to create a secure, resilient, and flexible technology foundation for the company’s transformation.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a leading financial services company that has approximately $1.9 trillion in assets, proudly serves one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of small businesses in the U.S., and is the leading middle market banking provider in the U.S. We provide a diversified set of banking, investment, and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through our four reportable operating segments: Consumer Banking and Lending, Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, and Wealth & Investment Management. Wells Fargo ranked No. 37 on Fortune’s 2021 rankings of America’s largest corporations. In the communities we serve, the company focuses its social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health, and a low-carbon economy. News, insights, and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

Additional information may be found at www.wellsfargo.com | Twitter: @WellsFargo.

closeup of two hands shaking hands, left "hand" an image of a computer board, DigitalBridge logo above

DigitalBridge Announces Partnership With ImpactData to Deliver Digital Learning Infrastructure to Underserved Communities

BOCA RATON, Fla., September 13, 2021–(BUSINESS WIRE)–DigitalBridge Group, Inc. (NYSE: DBRG) (“DigitalBridge”) today announced a partnership with ImpactData, which partners with colleges and universities to build secure colocation data centers that give enterprises better access to their workloads while encouraging digital expansion in underserved communities.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, ImpactData is launching a first-of-its-kind network of distributed, edge data centers built exclusively on an inclusion-based delivery model. With DigitalBridge, ImpactData initially partners alongside Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to deliver proximate, high-powered data center capacity in any deployment, size, or scale. This connected ecosystem will enable enterprises to leverage their “Data for Good” to advance student learning, sustain HBCUs, and transform historically disinvested communities.

“In today’s world, digital connectivity is a critical resource that is not fully accessible to everyone. As a result, the digital divide is becoming wider, and our personal and professional lives increasingly rely on better, faster, and more dependable digital infrastructure,” said Marc Ganzi, Chief Executive Officer of DigitalBridge. “We’re excited to be a part of ImpactData’s vision to create ‘mini-cloud’ regions and digital learning hubs on the campuses of HBCUs, giving diverse communities better access to the resources they so desperately need.”

“The DigitalBridge team’s 25+ years of converged network-building experience will be invaluable as we create a new class of integrated digital learning infrastructure that fosters more interconnected campuses and communities,” said Terry Comer, Chief Executive Officer of ImpactData. “We look forward to collaborating with DigitalBridge and our other valued partners to offer a cost-effective, yet secure, hybrid cloud solution that extends digital connectivity to the edge while giving enterprises access to a more diverse, ‘career-ready’ pipeline of talent.”

ImpactData is currently exploring several attractive markets, including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, Birmingham, and Charlotte, to pilot its cloud center model. “Our partnership with DigitalBridge provides a unique opportunity to establish high-speed connectivity and data infrastructure on HBCU campuses nationwide, sparking digital transformation in underserved communities that need it the most,” said David Calloway, ImpactData’s Chief Operating Officer. In addition, the company expects its innovative concept will deliver participating HBCU institutions value spanning recurring revenue streams, research level connectivity, on-campus innovation & entrepreneurship labs, commercial partnerships, as well as community-based workforce training programming, ultimately, ensuring everyone the opportunity to take part in the New Digital Economy.

About DigitalBridge

DigitalBridge (NYSE: DBRG) is a leading global digital infrastructure REIT. With a heritage of over 25 years investing in and operating businesses across the digital ecosystem including cell towers, data centers, fiber, small cells, and edge infrastructure, the DigitalBridge team manages a $35 billion portfolio of digital infrastructure assets on behalf of its limited partners and shareholders. Headquartered in Boca Raton, DigitalBridge has key offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Singapore.

About ImpactData

ImpactData designs, builds, and operates secure, purpose-built colocation data centers on the campuses of colleges and universities using an inclusion-based delivery model. Anchored in hybrid, multi-cloud technology, ImpactData is building a network of distributed, mini-cloud regions that integrate data infrastructure with academic, innovation & workforce training space to foster more interconnected campuses and communities. Through its “Data Centers Empowered” initiative, the Company expects to deploy over $1 billion in digital “learning” infrastructure over the next decade, the largest technology investment in the history of higher education.

Cincinnati Bell logo

Cincinnati Bell Inc. Acquisition by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners V Finalized in $2.9 Billion Transaction

Source: Business Wire

CINCINNATI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cincinnati Bell Inc. today announced the completion of its acquisition by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners V (“MIP”), an Americas-focused unlisted infrastructure fund managed by Macquarie Asset Management (“MAM”). The $2.9 billion transaction will accelerate Cincinnati Bell’s fiber build across its operating footprint, and support strategic investments in the company’s IT Services businesses throughout North America.

Leigh Fox, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cincinnati Bell, said the transaction close marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the company’s nearly 150-year history.

“Our partnership with MIP is tremendous news for Cincinnati Bell’s 4,700 employees, our customers, and the communities we serve,” Fox said. “MIP has deep telecommunications expertise and a strong track record of investing in capital intensive businesses, which will be critical as we deliver on our strategy to drive next generation, integrated communications through an expanded fiber network as well as our IT services platform.”

Anton Moldan, Senior Managing Director with MAM, said that Cincinnati Bell’s expansion plans will play an essential role in building digital equity within their service territories.

“We are incredibly excited to partner with the experienced management team at Cincinnati Bell to continue to build out a high bandwidth fiber to the premise network for consumers, enterprises, and carriers, as well as to support the growth of their market leading IT services platform,” Moldan said. “Cincinnati Bell provides the communities they serve with vital network connectivity, and we’re looking forward to supporting their expansion plans to bring fiber throughout their market.”

Entertainment and Communications

Cincinnati Bell and Hawaiian Telcom are committed to creating digital equity through ongoing investments in fiber, a future-proof technology that enables gigabit Internet. Today, Cincinnati Bell and Hawaiian Telcom cover 60 percent of Greater Cincinnati, and 40 percent of Hawaiʻi, with Fiber-to-the-Premise technology, making those regions among the most fiber-dense metropolitan areas in the United States.

Cincinnati Bell’s partnership with MIP will allow the company to expand the fiber network at an accelerated pace over the next three years and make high-speed Internet available throughout its operating territories. Cincinnati Bell will also continue its commitment to continuous innovation. The company in 2014 became the first Internet Service Provider in Greater Cincinnati to offer 1 gigabit Internet, and earlier this year became the first Internet Service Provider to introduce 2 gigabit speeds in the market.

IT Services and Hardware

Over the past four years, Cincinnati Bell’s IT Services businesses – CBTS – has grown from a regional IT provider into an international organization that supports customers across the globe, with offices located throughout the United States, Canada, India, and Europe. CBTS serves clients in all industries and has partnerships with Fortune 500 clients, large healthcare organizations, multiple universities, and state and local governmental agencies.

The transaction with MIP will provide CBTS with increased flexibility to make strategic investments in its Communications, Cloud, Consulting Services, Security, and Infrastructure practices. The transaction will also support CBTS’ ongoing investments to attract and develop talented IT professionals who are critical in order for the company to continue supporting its existing enterprise customers, and to attract new customers through continuous technology innovation.

Continued Commitment to the Community

Cincinnati Bell has been part of the communities it serves in Greater Cincinnati and Hawaiʻi for nearly 150 years. The company and its employees routinely donate more than $2 million every year toward economic development, health, and education initiatives. To date, Cincinnati Bell and Hawaiian Telcom have connected more than 7,000 students who previously lacked Internet to support remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company’s Employee Volunteer Program allows employees to volunteer up to 40 hours every year during work hours in their communities. And Cincinnati Bell’s Smart City organization – UniCity – is partnering with local governments and government entities to provide high-speed Internet access to communities, as well as applications that help customers leverage that connectivity to better serve constituents.

Fox said the transaction with MIP will further strengthen Cincinnati Bell’s community engagement efforts.

“MIP deeply appreciates Cincinnati Bell’s commitment to supporting the community that supports us. You can expect continued leadership from Cincinnati Bell with respect to regional initiatives including digital equity, economic development, and improved access to education and healthcare,” Fox said. “Our company is excited to begin this new chapter as we create true digital equity through our investment in fiber, and partner with our business customers through investments in cutting-edge technologies.”

About Cincinnati Bell Inc.

With headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati Bell Inc. delivers integrated communications solutions to residential and business customers over its fiber-optic and copper networks including high-speed internet, video, voice and data. Cincinnati Bell provides service in areas of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Hawai’i. In addition, enterprise customers across the United States and Canada rely on CBTS and OnX, wholly-owned subsidiaries, for efficient, scalable office communications systems and end-to-end IT solutions. For more information, please visit www.cincinnatibell.com. The information on the Company’s website is not incorporated by reference in this press release.

The Opportunities and Challenges of the Sub-Sea Cable Market for Digital Infrastructure Investors

September 7, 2021

My guess is that when you ask most mainstream institutional investors what they think digital infrastructure looks like, in actual physical form, they’ll probably trip off a list of visualizations including mobile phone towers, data centers, and finally, everyone’s favorite, hard hat workmen laying urban cable – in recent years they might even mutter about satellite dishes and low orbit constellations. But I’d wager that very few would get excited about sub-sea cables which is peculiar because one of the most successful IPOs of recent years in this space is that of D9 Digital Infrastructure is in large part, currently, a sub-sea play via its takeover of Aqua Comms. This successful and profitable business owns a bunch of assets including trans-Atlantic cables including America Europe Connect-1 (AEC-1), America Europe Connect-2 (AEC-2), and CeltixConnect-1 (CC-1). It’s also just announced an investment in a new cable into the middle east out of Europe.

If I were charitable, I suppose one could forgive the markets ignorance of sub-sea by way of taxonomy. Perhaps investors pigeonhole sub-sea cable as part of a wider fiber play which consists of a number of segments including long-haul (terrestrial and subsea) linking countries and cities together, as well as metro rings (the backbone network within a city) plus customers favorite, FTTP, (running from the metro ring to houses and businesses). And while we’re on that taxonomy point. one might also assume that terrestrial fiber might be a more attractive option because…well…it’s on land! That makes the process of laying cables and getting permissions and worrying about technology upgrades that much easier. So, if as an investor you’ve bought into the idea of all those exponential growth curves in data usage, better to focus on terrestrial and not be too bothered with all that tricky stuff involving water.

I say tricky because sub-sea sounds more than a tad challenging, and I’m not just talking about the obvious challenges of laying a cable in the deeps as well as repowering said fiber every 20 to 30 kilometers. Terrestrial cables typically have complicated rights of way issues to navigate. And if all that isn’t bad enough, experts such as Thor Johnson at D9 warn that backlogs and waiting times for the construction of new sub-sea projects is getting longer all the time. Whereas waiting for the cable supply and then installation would typically take two to three years, Johnsen reckons its now closer to three to four years and growing all the time.

Lurking in the background though is a more practicable challenge: the corporate structure of the sub-sea industry. Traditionally, the funding model for sub-sea has involved big consortia of telco businesses and carriers. The end result is a legacy network where many of the old cables, especially in the all-important Atlantic circuit, are nearing retirement or in need of extensive modernization to allow greater capacity.

That said, despite all these obvious challenges, sub-sea as one segment of the fiber market seems to be growing fast, as are most other digital infrastructure platforms (to be fair). Many of the most important sub-sea cables (at least in terms of capacity) have been built within the last five years. And some routes already look busy.

Take for example the all-important trans-Atlantic routes. At the last count, there were 18 cables going across from the US or Canada to Northern Europe (and especially the UK). D9 owns two of the more well-known cables AEC 1 and AEC 2 but many of the other owners have familiar names such as Vodafone, Tata and Google. Which of course reminds us of an essential fact – that sub-sea markets tend be highly concentrated in terms of ownership, much more so than long haul terrestrial fiber.

The majority of digital data carried via sub-sea today tends to be from a handful of giant companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. Rather than relying on the traditional model (telecom consortia) for access to subsea cables, these organizations are deploying their own sub-sea cables. They are doing so to cut costs and expand control and, as a result, the scale and pace of this deployment is significant. According to one industry insider, at the moment more than two-third of digital data moving across the Atlantic is on private networks owned by Google, Microsoft, Amazon or Facebook.

This all leads to one important point: that the sub-sea business is increasingly a scale game played by large operators who can a) afford the capital overlays and then b) continuously upgrade to allow for ever more data traffic.

Both of these trends can be glimpsed through the example of Google. According to Submarinenetworks.com, Google currently has either a stake or privately owns 14 undersea cables,  mostly in consortiums run by the likes of Aqua. Many of the most important span the Atlantic but the data giant has also expanded into other routes such as the Middle East-Africa-Asia route which until recently did not have a Google (or Facebook/Microsoft) cable on it, so one was announced. Soon thereafter, Google announced a project to traverse the Mediterranean and then wrap around Africa.

The technological upgrade path is also clear. Google’s first undersea cable, the Unity system, as part of a consortium across the Pacific, was ready for service back in 2010 and had eight cable pairs with system capacity of just 8 Tbps. The most recent cable, Equiano, which is 15,000 kilometers in length and connects Portugal to South Africa, has 12 pairs but a gigantic capacity of 240 Tbps.

Given this race to scale (and the need to modernize) and link up vast global networks, it’s arguably something of a surprise that there are still niche players such as Aqua in the business, competing against rivals such as Telxius (part of Telefonica) and GTT.

D9, for instance, through its Aqua business, has investments in a number of transatlantic lines: AEC 1 is their first cable with six fibers with four sold to a variety of corporations while another pair is leased, leaving one available pair. D9 also runs AEC 2 across the Atlantic plus AEC 3 which is imminent, coming on shore in Cornwall, UK.

The revenue stack for these independent operators is varied. Some pairs are leased on long term 15-to-20-year deals with the OTT Big Data plays; most of the FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) seem to be Aqua customers. But mixed in with these (probably lower margin) revenue streams, there’ll also be shorter duration deals in the one-to-five year range for data hungry customers, especially those in the second tier. For example data hungry players such as Akamai and Disney.

This increasingly complex ecology of infrastructure players – traditional carriers battling it out with Big Data vendors and independents playing all sides – becomes even more interesting in certain geographies. One insider tells me that the most interesting competition at the moment is either in shorter haul interconnector cables (for example, UK to the Nordics) or into specific regional markets, with India topping most lists.

And there’s one final observation on this competitive ecology that worth noting: “Amazon and AWS don’t seem to be as active as we’d expect in this market currently. They seem happy to buy capacity rather than lay their own cables,” one industry consultant tells me. Given Amazon’s vaulting global ambitions, I can’t imagine that state of affairs will continue for much longer.

That mention of Amazon though should act as a warning to bigger institutional investors interested in this space. Some investors I talked to admit they like the space but as a result of this competitive landscape tread cautiously around it. Says one: “We’d argue that a sub-sea fiber on a heavily competed route with few customers, poor contract terms and looming competition would naturally be less interesting than a long-haul fiber route with strong customers on good contracts, solid growth potential (new laterals and new customers) and limited opportunity for a competitor to find rights of way.”

Specialists like Aqua/D9 will of course disagree and point to the extraordinary growth in demand across the planet, with new routes opening all the time. They also remind us that even the old routes will need upgrading soon, but one is left wondering whether the sheer scale of capex needed for the next phase of sub-sea modernization might be a challenge too far even for deep-pocketed institutional investors.

Atlantic Broadband logo over graphic of planet earth

WOW! Completes $1.125 Billion Sale of its Ohio Service Areas to Atlantic Broadband

Source: WOW

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., Sept. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone (NYSE: WOW), a leading broadband service provider, today announced the completion of the sale of its Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio service areas to Atlantic Broadband, a U.S. cable operator and subsidiary of Cogeco Communications Inc. (TSE: CCA) (“Cogeco”) for $1.125 billion. From this sale, WOW! expects to use approximately $1.0 billion in net proceeds to pay down a portion of the company’s debt.

The transaction with Atlantic Broadband is one of two separate, previously announced agreements for WOW! to sell a total of five service areas for gross proceeds of $1.8 billion. WOW!’s other agreement to sell its Chicago, Evansville, Indiana, and Anne Arundel, Maryland, service areas for $661 million to Astound Broadband (dba RCN, Grande Communications and Wave Broadband) remains on track to close in the fourth quarter of 2021. The divestitures will strengthen WOW!’s financial position and help accelerate WOW!’s broadband-first strategy, which includes additional investments in edge-outs, greenfield strategies and commercial services.

“The closing of this deal with Atlantic Broadband is a significant step in the execution of our broadband-first strategy, at a critical time in our industry,” said Teresa Elder, CEO of WOW!. “Our strengthened balance sheet bolsters our ability to invest in key growth areas as we continue to provide reliable, accessible and fast broadband solutions to our customers across our remaining service areas. And we are confident that Atlantic Broadband will be a good steward for our Ohio service area employees and customers.”

Since the transaction was initially announced in June of 2021, WOW! has been preparing to transition employees and customers in its Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, service areas to Atlantic Broadband. WOW! has entered into a Transition Services Agreement with Atlantic Broadband to support post-transaction continuity of service during a transition period.

BofA Securities is acting as financial advisor to WOW!, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, as well as Honigman LLP, are serving as legal counsel.

About WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone
WOW! is one of the nation’s leading broadband providers, with an efficient, high-performing network that passes 2.5 million residential, business and wholesale consumers. WOW! provides services in 17 markets, primarily in the Midwest and Southeast, including Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. With an expansive portfolio of advanced services, including high-speed Internet services, cable TV, phone, business data, voice, and cloud services, the company is dedicated to providing outstanding service at affordable prices. WOW! also serves as a leader in exceptional human resources practices, having been recognized seven times by the National Association for Business Resources as a Best & Brightest Company to Work For, winning the award for the last three consecutive years. Visitwowway.com for more information.