The controlling stake in Mercury Broadband will be acquired by the private equity firm Northleaf Capital Partners, which will also make up to $230 million in investments over the coming years. According to Mercury Broadband CEO Garrett Wiseman, the additional funding will enable the company to aggressively develop its fixed wireless access (FWA) and fibre services across the Midwest.
Hundreds of FWA stations and 12,000 miles of fibre will be installed as part of Mercury’s ambitions in a few markets in Kansas, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. Utilizing Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) spectrum and equipment from Samsung and T3 Broadband, the company has already set up roughly 500 FWA sites.
Mercury also won $68.3 million in the reverse auction for the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which will go toward financing its broadband expansion.
To bring internet to remote areas where the current telco providers lack the motivation or drive to establish their own fibre networks, private equity firms like Northleaf are investing in broadband providers like Mercury. Because they provide recurrent revenue that is immune to growing inflation, these businesses are regarded as enticing investments.
Northleaf is not alone. The 2007-founded PE firm Grain Management invests a large portion of its capital in telecom and broadband infrastructure. The current portfolio of Grain includes investments in a number of smaller regional fibre service providers, including Summit Broadband in Florida and Hunter Communications, which offers broadband access in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Additionally, earlier this year, Dobson Fiber’s 57% ownership was acquired by iCON Infrastructure Partners. It also owns TruVista, a broadband, video, and voice provider in South Carolina.