Pavlov Media is accelerating the expansion of its fiber network and fiber-to-the-home initiatives with a key investment from the world’s largest infrastructure investor, Macquarie Asset Management. The funding will help Pavlov Media augment its coverage of student and multifamily housing, developing and broadening resident access to high-speed Internet across a variety of property types.
“We are ramping up our growth plans with a combination of building municipal fiber networks in college towns and extending service to underserved areas adjacent to our core markets,” says Glenn Meyer, board member and president of Pavlov Media. “It’s basically more of what we have already been doing but on a larger scale.”
Pavlov Media is already the nation’s largest private provider of fiber-based Internet and video services to off-campus student housing, connecting properties in more than 150 U.S. markets and Canada to its national backbone via its own last-mile, municipal fiber networks and third-party circuits. The Champaign, Illinois-based company serves approximately 1,000 multifamily and student buildings encompassing more than 285,000 beds, and in recent years has begun extending fiber to customers in areas adjacent to its core student-housing markets.
Now the broadband service provider is poised to quicken the pace of its growth with an equity investment it received in late March from a fund managed by Australia-based Macquarie Asset Management. Meyer says the investment will enable Pavlov Media to extend and strengthen its network while exploring new modes of growth.
“We now have the financial wherewithal to fund initiatives that make strategic sense for our company, especially as it relates to our fiber strategy,” Meyer says. “We will be looking at acquisitions where it makes sense, and at opportunities we find interesting within the MDU market as a whole.”
Founded in 1994, Pavlov Media’s chief focus is providing broadband services to multifamily units under bulk agreements with landlords. The company has excelled in the student housing market, which presents unique connectivity and capacity challenges. The growing Internet connectivity needs of students are well served by a resilient network. Meanwhile, resident expectations for high-capacity networks are following students out of their dorms and into the wider world of apartments.
For the past decade, Pavlov Media has been building its own fiber networks to link the communities it serves to its national backbone. The shift has enabled Pavlov Media to be more responsive to customers by taking control of construction timelines and connection quality, an approach that has reduced its reliance on third parties to provide system installation services to clients across the country.
The model lets Pavlov Media build robust networks that minimize congestion and provide capacity to continue serving customers as their data demands grow over time without requiring additional buildouts, Meyer says. “Maximizing network speed by eliminating congestion is important across all multifamily properties, but it is essential in serving student housing, where end users consume massive amounts of data for online classes, research, remote work, gaming and streaming entertainment.”
“Students need high-capacity networks,” Meyer says. “And the demand for network access and capacity is not slowing down. If anything, it is accelerating, and property owners need to have broadband networks in their buildings to enable both remote learning and general student use.”
Pavlov Media sizes its last-mile networks based on usage patterns, the number of beds or multifamily occupants to be served as well as projected demand growth. Within those parameters, the company strives to provide maximum capacity to each property.
“We have properties on our network that already have 100-gigabit connections,” Meyer says, adding that bandwidth to properties in the larger student housing industry is more typically 10 gigabits per second.
“The faster we can get content on and off the network and into the student’s laptop or phone, the more we reduce congestion on the network,” he explains. “It’s like a highway — the larger the road, the less the congestion, so we put in the biggest road possible.”
The resulting infrastructure enables the provider to not only serve its targeted college markets but also to introduce broadband access for non-student-housing customers in nearby areas.
Partnered for Growth
The success of Pavlov Media’s network expansion was already drawing unsolicited investor inquiries when the firm retained Lazard, an international investment banking firm, to identify prospective partners to help accelerate the program. The advisor sourced about a half-dozen viable candidates.
“We ultimately selected Macquarie Asset Management because of their worldwide reach and their previous experience with investing in and building fiber networks,” Meyer recalls.
Pavlov Media has constructed last-mile fiber networks in the United States, along with establishing multilingual client resources to serve its customers in Montreal. With the firm’s new equity investment from an international leader in infrastructure, Meyer says Pavlov Media is accelerating growth in North America and could one day bring fiber connections to communities internationally, especially when it comes to college campuses.
“We operate now in 150 U.S. college markets and several in Canada, and the college-housing concept is not unique to North America,” he says. “Will we enter a new international market tomorrow? No. But we definitely will continue expanding using the fiber backbone and the systems that have already brought Pavlov Media success.”
— By Matt Hudgins. This article was written in conjunction with Pavlov Media, a content partner of REBusinessOnline. For more information on Pavlov Media, click here.