Lightpath: We're Capitalized

The CLEC shakeout comes as no surprise to Lightpath Inc., the telecommunications unit of Cablevision Systems Corp.

"In any high-growth industry, consolidations sometimes occur," said Eric Tveter, Cablevision's senior vice president for business telecommunications services and the head of Lightpath.

While many competitors struggle with capital uncertainty, Lightpath's position is solid, he said. "I'm very pleased that Lightpath is part of Cablevision and that we are financially strong."

As the shakeout in the telecom sector continues, Lightpath will retain its focus on developing and providing quality services and maintaining strong customer satisfaction levels in its current territories, he added.

Instead of pursuing a national expansion plan, Lightpath will maintain the regional emphasis that Tveter believes distinguishes it from its primary competitors — Verizon Communications Inc. in New York and New Jersey and Southern New England Telecommunications Corp. in Connecticut.

"We're not trying to expand into 20 or 30 markets, which is a big challenge," he said. "We are very focused on the world's No. 1, largest market, which will keep us busy for the next several years."

Lightpath offers a full range of voice, data and Internet services to customers in the tri-state area. By leveraging Cablevision's rights-of-way, the Lightpath Intelligent Network currently connects directly to more than 900 buildings. It was founded in 1989, when Cablevision began laying fiber-optic cable, and initially offered voice services to business customers, said Tveter.

"We now offer virtual private network [VPN] services to businesses and other institutions, which allow employees to telecommute using a highly secure, reliable and fast connection to their organization's network," Tveter said. This service combines Cablevision's Optimum Online consumer high-speed Internet connection with Lightpath's VPN software, creating a secure tunnel through the public network and into its business customers' network.

The scalable and customizable VPN service, which debuted in January 2001, is monitored and supported around the clock, Tveter said.

Last year, Westchester County, N.Y., selected Lightpath from a field of 13 competitors to construct and operate its 'Westchester Telecom Network.' Currently under construction, the completed network will link local government, schools, libraries and hospitals to Westchester county residents, Tveter said.

Lightpath also built a voice and data network in Long Island, N.Y., that's used by 75 percent of the health-care industry there.

Going forward, Lightpath will continue to focus on high-speed services for business customers, including asynchronous transfer mode and frame relay, but is considering new consumer-focused services as well.

Lightpath plans to introduce Internet-protocol telephony services next year, in conjunction with Cablevision's new digital set-top box from Sony Corp.