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January 4, 2017

FirstLight Fiber combines with Oxford Networks

FirstLight Fiber, a leading fiber-optic bandwidth infrastructure services provider operating in New York and northern New England, announced today that Oak Hill Capital Partners has completed its acquisition of Lewiston-based Oxford Networks for an undisclosed amount.

Operations of Oxford and FirstLight have now been combined, resulting in FirstLight now operating a 5,000 route mile, high-capacity, fiber-optic network spanning five states with 4,400 locations in service and 10 data centers.

As previously reported, Novacap, Bank Street Capital Partners and Riverside Partners will continue as minority investors in the combined company.

"The acquisition of Oxford more than doubles the size of our business, dramatically increases our scale and network reach, and better positions FirstLight to continue meeting the growing bandwidth infrastructure needs of our customers," Kurt Van Wagenen, president and CEO of FirstLight, said in a statement announcing the acquisition's closing.

He added, "FirstLight and Oxford are highly complementary in terms of fiber footprint, service set, customer base, employee expertise and mission, which will ease integration efforts. We expect this to be a seamless transaction for our customers and significantly enhance our operating platform as we continue to grow the business."

Oxford Networks President and CEO Craig Gunderson said combining with FirstLight will enable Oxford to serve its customers better. "We look forward to working together to realize the promise that this combination creates," he said.

Scott Baker and Benjy Diesbach, partners at Oak Hill and members of the FirstLight board of directors, characterized the acquisition of Oxford as an "important milestone" for both FirstLight and Oak Hill.

"This transaction represents an exciting next step in our plan to create the leading fiber provider in the Northeastern United States," they said in a joint statement. "The combined company, along with the previously announced acquisition of Sovernet Communications, will form an entity that has an exceptional foundation to serve the needs of both regional enterprises and communications carriers."

The Sovernet transaction is expected to close early in 2017, following the satisfaction of customary regulatory approvals and will further increase the size and geographic footprint of FirstLight. Once complete, FirstLight will operate a network spanning 9,500 route miles in five states and Canada, more than 5,000 on-net locations and 11 data centers with 128,000 square feet of space.

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