GeoLinks scopes out opportunities to scale as RDOF builds roll

SoCal CLEC GeoLinks last month finally took home $84.6 million of the $234.9 million it won in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction for broadband projects in Arizona and Nevada. While its top priority is ramping up those fiber and fixed wireless builds, company President Ryan Adams told Fierce it’s also keeping its eyes peeled for expansion opportunities from the Southwest to the East Coast which could help it scale over the next decade.

“We have three focuses right now: Arizona, California and Nevada,” he said. “But we could be open to any market at any time with the right opportunity.”

Founded in 2011, GeoLinks’ suite of services includes enterprise-grade internet, digital voice, SD-WAN, cloud on-ramping, layer 2 transport, and public and private network construction. But the organization’s leading product is clear fiber with guaranteed bandwidth up to 10-gigs.

Over the past decade, GeoLinks has slowly but surely slid swaths of southern California under its wing through strategic partnerships, like with the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), which helped connect schools and public libraries across rural California to reliable internet connections. As of Q4 2022, GeoLinks has established 200 such partnerships that have helped grow the network across the state.

As a small player in California, GeoLinks hasn’t slept on the moves it could make via acquisitions and strategic prowess. It’s been able to expand and go after B2B corporate markets in Los Angeles and secluded, rural communities across the state alike. Adams sees this dichotomy of locales as distinctive of the organization as a whole in its appeal to both urban and rural America. “We’ve seen a lot of success in this space in our ability to deliver quickly,” said Adams. “We build and maintain our own network, and that has allowed us to take on a lot of opportunities.”

In 2018, GeoLinks was the largest winner in California and fourth-largest winner nationally in the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II Auction, which allowed the team to bid on builds in underserved and unserved communities in California and Nevada. After securing bids across the states, the last few years have been hallmarked by timely buildouts with final completion on track to be wrapped by 2024.

The company followed up by winning $234.9 million in the RDOF auction in 2020 to connect more than 128,000 locations across Arizona, Nevada and California. The company recently said it is working to formalize its RDOF deployment schedule by Q2 2023 and expects to break ground on multiple Census Block Groups by the end of that year.

Even though fiber is the golden goose for GeoLinks, fixed wireless via licensed and unlicensed spectrum alike are of interest to the team depending on what makes sense for a market. “Our focus out there is that we try to overbuild and really make this future-proof,” noted Adams.

While Adams wasn’t ready just yet to reveal the next key markets that RDOF projects will launch in, he underscored that the team was working closely with the FCC to build roadmaps on what is to come to ensure that all milestones can be met in the future.

As it schedules RDOF builds, Adams reiterated GeoLinks’ openness towards market types means it will be tackling a range of locales. “In terms of Arizona, for example, it’s not just the middle of nowhere, so to speak, in these rural areas. We have stuff that’s Maricopa County, which is the largest county in Arizona that we won,” he explained. “It’s just folks who get left behind, even in some densely populated areas.”