Rise Broadband gets scooped up by private equity firm GI Partners

Fixed wireless and fiber provider Rise Broadband has been acquired by private equity firm GI Partners – a move that will propel Rise’s fiber-to-the-home deployments in the rural U.S., the companies said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but GI Partners and Rise aim to “execute a multi-year, fiber-based network expansion effort,” according to Brendan Scollans, managing director and co-head of GI Data Infrastructure. The firm said it will also invest “meaningful new capital” for the rollout and to improve Rise’s customer experience.

“Rise’s existing network infrastructure is uniquely positioned to execute a fiber expansion effort that will provide rural communities with next generation broadband service,” Scollans said in a statement.

Rise provides fixed wireless service to 16 states across the Midwest, Rocky Mountains and Southwest U.S., including Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and Wisconsin. Residential fixed wireless plans range from 25 Mbps to 50 Mbps, with some locations having access to speeds up to 100 Mbps.

As for fiber, Rise offers gigabit service in 11 markets, mostly in Texas but also in Maroa, Illinois. Rise is also one of only 11 fixed ISPs that cover more than 5% of the U.S. population, per the FCC’s 2022 Communications Marketplace Report.

“We are eager to partner with the GI Partners team as we embark on a new phase of growth, driven by significant investment in our hybrid fiber-to-the-home and fixed wireless network,” stated Rise Broadband CEO Jim O’Brien. O’Brien will continue to serve as company chief under GI Partners.

It’s not the first time the equity firm has claimed a stake in broadband. In 2020, GI Partners acquired Vast Broadband, which now operates under the name Bluepeak in the central U.S.

GI Partners previously owned a stake in Wave Broadband but sold it in 2017 to TPG Capital. Since then, TPG has sold Wave along with a handful of other cable operators to Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners for $8.1 billion.

Despite global economic pressures, the telecom M&A space is still expected to pick up in 2023, according to Baker Botts partner Nicole Perez. She recently told Fierce funding opportunities for telecom infrastructure will encourage more companies to invest in broadband, “be it through public-private partnerships, joint ventures or M&A.”

Although rising interest rates have made the telecom market more expensive for private equity buyers, Perez added investors will likely focus on deploying broadband service in geographies that are “ripe for growth,” like Latin America and the Caribbean.