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New fiber optics provider sets up shop in ABQ

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There’s a new fiber optic network provider on the block in Albuquerque following CenturyLink’s sale of some local assets to Missouri-based Unite Private Networks.

CenturyLink announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice approved the sale as part of CenturyLink’s $34 billion acquisition of Level 3 Communications. For that deal to move forward, the Justice Department required CenturyLink to sell off some Level 3 assets, including that company’s metro fiber optic networks in Albuquerque, in Boise, Idaho, and in Tucson, Ariz.

Unite Private Networks, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., won purchase rights for the Level 3 assets in an open bid for an undisclosed amount, said UPN President Jason Adkins. The 20-year-old company specializes in building, owning and operating fiber optic networks to provide services to schools, governments, carriers, data centers, hospitals and enterprise business customers.

It currently operates in 21 states but only launched operations in New Mexico last year after winning an $18.2 million contract to build a network tying together all Albuquerque Public School locations, Adkins said. The acquisition of Level 3 assets emerged after UPN began working on the APS contract, and the company bid on it to launch long-term operations here.

“It dovetailed together,” Adkins told the Journal. “Albuquerque is now a key part of our long-term plans. We’re excited about coming to the local market.”

The acquisition includes 300-plus miles of fiber optic networks that sustain service to about 600 buildings. The company plans to immediately upgrade Level 3 network equipment to offer 100 gigabit capability. It will invest nearly $50 million in both those upgrades and in the APS contract, creating about 100 construction jobs.

“We’re doing engineering work now on the APS project and applying for permits to begin construction shortly,” Adkins said.

The company will take over office space previously occupied by Level 3 at CenturyLink’s offices Downtown. It expects to support 21 permanent jobs.

CenturyLink said it will continue to provide service to former Level 3 customers in Albuquerque who don’t switch to UPN. It will purchase network connectivity and services from UPN if needed to provide uninterrupted service.

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