May 22, 2018
Rochester – Local billionaire and philanthropist Tom Golisano expects to see sign-ups for Greenlight Networks’ fiber internet double within six months because of increased capital and speed of infrastructure installation, he said Tuesday.
Golisano’s company Grand Oaks LLC moved to acquire the local broadband darling last month. The company has “tremendous opportunity and tremendous potential,” but needed resources to invest in its fiber network and facilities, he said later in April.
Greenlight, founded in 2011, provides high-speed fiber internet, which often requires a significant amount of costly infrastructure build-out before it can be offered in any given area.
With Greenlight unable to keep up with the huge local demand for its fiber-optic internet service, Golisano said he’s hoping to help “close some of those gaps,” presumably with his infusion of capital.
Last week, the acquisition was approved by the state’s Public Service Commission.
Golisano expects to act as “advice and counsel” to Greenlight President and CEO Mark Murphy, Golisano said Tuesday.
He added that 10,000 people have requested the service online since the acquisition announcement was made — and that number is likely conservative, said Murphy.
The requests have been widespread across the area, and there’s even been some spikes in surrounding metro areas, he said.
Their first step? Bringing on more staff. They’ll likely double their workforce by this time next year, he said, prioritizing engineers to handle design plans and sales representatives to cover neighborhood outreach coordination.
Greenlight is preparing its current fleet of third party contractors for the coming uptick in installations, as well as hiring additional contractors to assist with the workload.
Neither Golisano nor Murphy commented specifically on where Greenlight might be installed next, but Golisano said the Rochester metro area is the primary focus.
Greenlight is already present in many east-side suburbs, including Fairport and Henrietta, as well as many parts of the east side of the city of Rochester. Installation crews have been working in East Irondequoit over the past month or so.
The west side, however, has hardly been touched by the service.
With the infusion from Golisano, Greenlight could potentially move into other parts of the state as well, according to a statement from the Public Service Commission.
Golisano expects the build-out to accelerate, he said, although there is still significant planning work to be done.
“We’re going to get more aggressive because we got the capital to do it,” he said. “It still takes a lot of planning. We have to build up groups of households that want the service, and that will determine how fast we go in a particular neighborhood.”
The company’s build-out has been incremental, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, based in part on interest.
Once enough resident interest appears in a specific area, Greenlight looks at its geographical components, like interstates or railroad tracks. A “Greenlight district,” or a specific area of service, is then drawn up and an order goal set, which dictates how many residents need to get on board for the service to be a go.
This process won’t change — it’ll just happen in more neighborhoods at once, said Golisano. He added that fiber networks are the future of entertainment and consumer technology.
“People are going to be getting away from cable television and using the internet to watch programming they want to watch,” he said. “To have high-speed internet at a reasonable price — we should be there to meet that need.”