Connectivity Wireless Solutions has been acquired by M/C Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm that owns Neutral Connect Networks. M/C Partners will consolidate the two companies to provide neutral-host infrastructure and in-building wireless services. A space that is currently dominated by Boingo Wireless, ExteNet Systems and others.
“Overall, we are observing an ecosystem that is retooling and recalibrating to address a marketplace that has changed whereby the old ways may no longer be effective,” said Mike Collado, principal, Collado Strategic Consulting.
In conjunction with the acquisition, Stephen Bye left as president of regional cellular provider C Spire to head the combination of the two companies. Bye brings a wealth of wireless service experience to the combined companies. He served as the chief technology Officer of C Spire during his four-year tenure. Before that he served a short tenure as CTO of Rivada Network and before that he was CTO at Sprint. Bye has more than 24 years of engineering, operations, product development, business planning and marketing experience with telecom, cable and wireless service providers.
The hiring of Bye echoes ExteNet Systems’ hiring of Jim Hyde as president and CEO last fall. Hyde has ample experience leading wireless service providers, having worked at Sprint, T-Mobile UK, and NTELOS Holdings, as well as Western Wireless.
CBRS, LAA, New Technologies Stimulate IBW Ecosystem
The new company plans to expand its services and solutions to support the next generation of technologies to be introduced in the in-building wireless space, including managed Wi-Fi, Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS), License Assisted Access (LAA), multi-carrier small cells, intelligent network edge devices and 5G.
“These businesses are natural complements to one another and create a combined entity with enhanced scale, industry-leading technical expertise, and the operational capacity to support the growth in this market,” said Brian Clark, managing partner at M/C Partners. “M/C Partners has a long and successful heritage in the wireless industry, and we believe the neutral-host infrastructure and in-building wireless business represents a significant growth opportunity, particularly with the planned deployments of CBRS, private LTE networks and the transition to 5G, which we are keen to participate in.”
Connectivity Wireless Solutions, based in Duluth, Georgia, was founded in 2008 by Greg Jacobs, Blake Maffei and Clayt Mason designing, installing, and maintaining in-building wireless distributed antenna systems. It has deployed a total of in-building wireless 2,700 systems. Jacobs will join the board of the consolidated company. Founded in 2016 and based in Boynton Beach, Florida, Neutral Connect Networks designs and builds in-building wireless, managed Wi-Fi and small cells.
In the coming weeks, the companies will reorganize to develop operating efficiencies. “Our team members represent the most important capability we have,” Bye said, “and we will work together to ensure we operate as efficiently as possible to deliver best-in-class solutions and services to our customers, supporting managed Wi-Fi, CBRS, private LTE networks, and the evolution to 5G and beyond.”
In-building Wireless Service Space Looks Healthy
The in-building wireless market was valued at $5,730 million in 2018 and is projected to reach $18,900 Million by 2025, at a CAGR of 16.1 percent during the forecast period, according to HTF Market Intelligence.
The in-building space looks vibrant according to Boingo Wireless’s most recent earnings call. The company saw its best results ever in 2018 with revenue of $250.8 million, up 22.7 percent year over year, providing DAS in venues and wholesale Wi-Fi, which includes carrier offload, military and multifamily. Total DAS nodes in the network numbered 29,900 up 27.2 percent, with 13,800 under contract.
Boingo expects to see 5G deployments in its venues across multiple types of spectrum, including licensed, unlicensed and shared, as well as high, mid and low frequency bands. But right now, the carriers’ focus appears to be in 5G in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band.
Based on the success of its CBRS deployment at Dallas Love Field, Mobilitie has received interest from multiple carriers to launch CBRS at many of its venues. Officials at the company said 3.5 GHz is being added into existing design projects by carriers in order to handle 5G traffic.