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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

September 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Wave buys Spectrum, CondoInternet

Two of the Seattle area’s fast-moving broadband companies are merging and preparing a big expansion down the West Coast.

Kirkland-based WaveDivision Holdings today is announcing that it has acquired Spectrum Networks, a Seattle-based broadband provider that offers some of the world’s fastest connection speeds. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

Wave, the parent company of Wave Broadband, is fairly low profile but the company raised $1 billion last fall to recapitalize and finance acquisitions. Wave provides broadband, cable TV and phone services to more than 400,000 customers in Washington, Oregon and California, where it provides service in Sacramento and the San Francisco area.

Steve Weed

Spectrum started as a broadband service provider in 2007 and its network now extends from Vancouver, B.C., to Silicon Valley.

Spectrum also operates CondoInternet, a company that has provided some of the world’s fastest broadband in Seattle since 2008.

The company now offers up to gigabit speeds — 1,000 megabits per second — to about 15,000 homes. That’s on par with the fiber-optic service Google now provides in Kansas City and that Cincinnati-based Gigabit Squared may begin providing in a few Seattle neighborhoods later this year.

CondoInternet will continue expanding in the area, but Wave is mostly buying the company to expand Spectrum’s business offerings.

“Not only are we going to fund their growth plan, but they get access to a fiber network that’s hundreds times bigger than what they have now,” said Wave Chief Executive Steve Weed (left).

Wave has 860 employees, and Spectrum has about 30, who will continue working out of its Seattle facility. No layoffs are expected.

John van Oppen

“The reality is quite the opposite,” said Spectrum Chief Executive John van Oppen. “We are trying to hire as many people as we can.”

Wave offered Spectrum more than money. It also has fiber-optic assets, service crews and other resources so “the combination of us brings efficiency that we can then roll into speeding up the network deployment,” van Oppen said.

Wave has acquired 15 companies since it was started by Weed 10 1/2 years ago, including the bankrupt cable provider Broadstripe in 2011.

Weed said Wave has plenty of resources to keep expanding Spectrum and make additional acquisitions.

“We have plenty of access to capital to continue funding their growth as well as other companies that are best in class like Spectrum,” he said. “We’re still looking to do that.”

Wave customers will probably have to wait awhile to see gigabit broadband offered along with cable and phone service. But the combination of the companies could lead to some interesting offerings down the road, especially as cable TV content becomes more available via broadband and connection speeds in general become faster.

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