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Rochester Philanthropist Tom Golisano Acquiring Greenlight Networks

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Rochester billionaire and philanthropist Thomas Golisano is seeking expedited regulatory approval from New York’s Public Service Commission to acquire Rochester-based Greenlight Networks, LLC, a fiber to the home network provider for an undisclosed sum.

Greenlight Networks has been slowly overbuilding Charter/Spectrum and Frontier Communications’ service areas in eastern Monroe County since 2012, offering subscribers gigabit internet access. But time may be running short for Greenlight’s competitive broadband speed advantage. Charter Communications is reportedly planning to introduce gigabit service as early as April 25th throughout upstate New York, except for Buffalo.

The urgency of the transaction’s approval is clear in the companies’ filing with state officials requesting an expedited review and approval of the transaction.

“Greenlight’s […] need for working capital and the optimization of capital structure required for long-term success in the competitive telecommunications industry are matters for urgent consideration,” the application states. “Greenlight seeks Commission approval in order to avoid unnecessary delays in the completion of its network expansion projects and in order to secure valuable, committed, outside investors who share Greenlight’s vision and believe in its ability to execute on its plan.”

Greenlight’s success is likely dependent on its ability to rapidly expand its fiber optic network before its biggest competitor, Charter’s Spectrum, capitalizes on its forthcoming ability to match Greenlight’s download speeds. Greenlight receives praise from subscribers lucky enough to live in a neighborhood reached by its network. But residents also report frustration over the slow pace of the company’s fiber network expansion, particularly in suburbs west of the Genesee River that bisects the city of Rochester.

Golisano’s Grand Oaks LLC of Pittsford, N.Y. promises customers the acquisition will not result in any changes in Greenlight’s rates or its terms and conditions.

The petition claims the acquisition is in the public interest because it will offer Greenlight much-needed additional capital to accelerate deployment of its fiber network inside Rochester and beyond. Greenlight’s website suggests the company is considering expansion into the New York State cities of Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, Syracuse, and the Finger Lakes Region. In Connecticut, the company is considering serving Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, New Haven, and Stamford (the corporate home of Frontier Communications). Grand Oak also promises to grow jobs at Greenlight and increase operational efficiency at the company.

Golisano is well-known in Rochester as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader. Golisano founded Paychex, a leading national payroll service provider in 1971. After his retirement in 2004, Golisano has been actively involved in local civic causes and advocates for policies promoting improvement in the economy of western New York State.

The application is likely to be approved, but not soon enough to combat Charter Communications’ accelerated broadband upgrades across New York State. By early summer, Spectrum customers across New York State will receive 200 Mbps Standard service, 400 Mbps Ultra service, or 940 Mbps (nearly gigabit) Gigabit service from the cable operator at prices ranging from $65-125 a month. In contrast, Greenlight currently offers customers 100 Mbps for $50, 500 Mbps for $75, or 1,000 Mbps for $100 a month.

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FredH
FredH
3 years ago

We need this across all of Upstate NY….give Spectrum some legitimate competition in it’s entire service zone.

TimmyT
TimmyT
3 years ago

Maybe this will help them expand faster than the snails pace they are on now.

Conan
Conan
3 years ago

Perhaps more important than speed is the probability that Charter will institute usage caps as TWC tried to. They have agreed not to for a period of time but eventually may make another try to offset declining cord cutter revenue. Just as Rochester once said “no thanks” to local phone service provided by the Bell System and created Rochester Tel to maintain local control of an important technology resource, we need to be the masters of our own Internet connectivity. In some other areas of the country, municipal government has provided this as a utility but it’s clear that Monroe… Read more »

OYoung
OYoung
3 years ago

They must have pulled the wool over Mr Golisano’s eyes pretty well. I’m all for the competition but this company is sketchy. Contractors showed up in my backyard unannounced to install Greenlight’s equipment to the telephone poles. When I asked who they were an what they were doing one man became belligerent with me. I called the electric company who owns the poles and found out Greenlight hadn’t even requested permission to be on the poles in my area. A few years prior they came to the neighborhood to find customers to pledge money so they could build their network,… Read more »

Steve
Steve
3 years ago

The article states that Greenlight May find competition tough since Spectrum will soon be offering faster internet offerings. The article ignores one important point. Spectrum service is terrible and they have pissed off so many people that would love to have another option so they could say so long to spectrum. First hand experience here.

Rob
Rob
3 years ago

I live in Webster. I have been on Greenlight’s sign up list, after paying my $10, for nearly 3 years now.
Our neighborhood is at 94% of sign ups needed. I do hope Mr Golisano is successful, and that priority
for implementation respects existing demand. I will drop Spectrum the moment it is possible to do so,
imagine many would do the same.

Kris
Kris
3 years ago

Someone in our neighborhood claims that we’ll never get Greenlight as all our lines are underground. Is that true?

Bob
Bob
3 years ago

Absolutely correct. Raphael and Parklane us due to have construction start very soon. Finally. My order was placed in July,2015. So the streets with above ground wiring are good to go. Those with underground wiring, no. Rob, if you actually ordered service, then you should have received two e mails from Greenlight by now re: your order. I called them to upgrade my order to the 1 gig service level because there is no install fee for that level. You MUST keep that level of service for two billing periods before you can bump it down to 500/50 or 100/20… Read more »

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