The founder and lead analyst of Recon Analytics told Mobile World Live Verizon is one of half a dozen potential buyers of fibre infrastructure set to be divested by CenturyLink and Level 3 Communications.

Roger Entner said Verizon is a likely acquirer due to its push to insource backhaul. Other potential buyers include Zayo, Equinix, Crown Castle, American Tower and Cogent, he said.

A Verizon purchase would certainly not be without precedent. The company in August spent $225 million to acquire 1,200 miles of WideOpenWest’s (WOW!) Chicago-area fibre network. It also signed a $1.05 billion deal with Corning in April to purchase up to 12.4 million miles of optical fibre each year from 2018 to 2020 to back its densification efforts ahead of the launch of 5G.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) made divesting some fibre assets a condition of approving a $24 billion merger between CenturyLink and Level 3 Communications.

A consent decree issued by the DoJ requires the combined company to shed Level 3’s network assets in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boise, Idaho; and Tucson, Arizona, where there is redundancy with CenturyLink’s existing network. The merged entity must also offer permanent long-term leases – known as indefeasible rights of use – for 24 strands of dark fibre running along 30 intercity routes.

CenturyLink is already looking for takers interested in the assets on the table.

In a statement John Jones, CenturyLink’s SVP for public policy and government relations, called the decision “an important milestone in our overall approval process.”

Approval for the transaction had already been granted by 24 states and territories prior to the DoJ’s consent. The deal must still be cleared by the Federal Communications Commission and the state of California.