10-K 1 cnsl-20231231x10k.htm 10-K
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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023

or

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 or 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from ________________ to ________________

Commission file number 000-51446

Graphic

CONSOLIDATED COMMUNICATIONS HOLDINGS, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Delaware

02-0636095

(State or other jurisdiction

(I.R.S. Employer

of incorporation or organization)

Identification No.)

2116 South 17th Street, Mattoon, Illinois

61938-5973

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code (217) 235-3311

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class

Trading Symbol

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock - $0.01 par value

CNSL

The Nasdaq Global Select Market

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.

Yes No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company

Accelerated filer

Emerging growth company

Non-accelerated filer 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.

Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b).

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No 

As of June 30, 2023, the aggregate market value of the shares held by non-affiliates of the registrant’s common stock was $286,167,707 based on the closing price as reported on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. The market value calculations exclude shares held on the stated date by registrant’s directors and officers on the assumption such shares may be shares owned by affiliates. Exclusion from these public market value calculations does not necessarily conclude affiliate status for any other purpose.

On February 27, 2024, the registrant had 116,003,311 shares of common stock outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s Proxy Statement for the 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated herein by reference in Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the extent stated herein. Such proxy statement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2023.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE

PART I

Item 1.

Business

1

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

14

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

26

Item 1C.

Cybersecurity

26

Item 2.

Properties

27

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

27

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

27

PART II

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

28

Item 6.

Reserved

28

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

29

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

52

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

52

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

52

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

52

Item 9B.

Other Information

55

Item 9C.

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

55

PART III

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

55

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

55

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

55

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

55

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

55

PART IV

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

56

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

60

SIGNATURES

61

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including those relating to the impact on future revenue sources, pending and future regulatory orders, continued expansion of the telecommunications network and expected changes in the sources of our revenue and cost structure resulting from our entrance into new markets, are forward-looking statements and are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  These forward-looking statements reflect, among other things, our current expectations, plans, strategies and anticipated financial results. There are a number of risks, uncertainties and conditions that may cause the actual results of Consolidated Communications Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiaries (“Consolidated,” the “Company,” “we,” “our” or “us”) to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements.  Many of these circumstances are beyond our ability to control or predict.  Moreover, forward-looking statements necessarily involve assumptions on our part.  These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “project,” “intend,” “plan,” “should,” “may,” “will,” “would,” “will be,” “will continue” or similar expressions.  All forward-looking statements attributable to us or persons acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements that appear throughout this report.  A detailed discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results and events to differ materially from such forward-looking statements is included in Part I – Item 1A – “Risk Factors”. Furthermore, undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements, which are based on the information currently available to us and speak only as of the date they are made.  Except as required under federal securities laws or the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), we disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements.  

PART I

Item 1. Business.

Consolidated Communications Holdings, Inc. is a Delaware holding company with operating subsidiaries that provide a wide range of communication solutions to consumer, commercial and carrier channels across a service area in over 20 states.  We were founded in 1894 as the Mattoon Telephone Company.  After several acquisitions, the Mattoon Telephone Company was incorporated as the Illinois Consolidated Telephone Company in 1924. We were incorporated under the laws of Delaware in 2002, and through our predecessors, we have been providing communication services in many of the communities we serve for more than 125 years.

In addition to our focus on organic growth, we have achieved business growth and a diversification of revenue and cash flow streams through our acquisitions over a 15-year period from 2002 to 2017 that have created a strong platform and expanded network for future expansion. Through this strategic expansion, we have positioned our business to provide competitive services in rural, suburban and metropolitan markets spanning the country. Marking a pivotal moment for Consolidated, in 2020, we entered into a strategic investment with an affiliate of Searchlight Capital Partners L.P. (“Searchlight”) and also completed a global debt refinancing, which in combination provided us with greater flexibility to support our fiber expansion and growth plans. The strategic investment offered an immediate capital infusion, delivering significant benefits to the customers and communities we serve, and creating a stronger company that is well-positioned to further expand and grow broadband services to meet ever-evolving customer needs.

Description of Our Business

Consolidated is a broadband and business communications provider offering a wide range of communication solutions to consumer, commercial and carrier customers by leveraging our advanced fiber network, which spans approximately 60,000 fiber route miles across many rural areas and metro communities.  We offer residential high-speed Internet, video, phone and home security services as well as multi-service residential and small business bundles. Our business product suite includes: data and Internet solutions, voice, data center services, security services, managed and IT services, and an expanded suite of cloud services. We provide wholesale solutions to wireless and wireline carriers and other service providers including data, voice, network connections and custom fiber builds and last mile connections. Consolidated is dedicated to moving people, businesses and communities forward by delivering the most reliable fiber communications solutions.

We generate the majority of our consolidated operating revenues primarily from monthly subscriptions to our broadband, data and transport services (collectively “broadband services”) marketed to residential and business customers. As consumer demands for bandwidth continue to increase, our focus is on expanding our fiber broadband services and

1

upgrading data speeds in order to offer a highly competitive fiber product. Our investment in more competitive broadband speeds is critical to our long-term success.  With the initial investment from Searchlight and the concurrent debt refinancing in 2020, we launched our largest-ever multi-year fiber infrastructure project in 2021 with the goal of upgrading approximately 1.6 million residential and small business premises to fiber-to-the-home/premise (“FTTP”) enabling multi-Gig symmetrical speeds. The fiber network investments will be made across eight states, including more than 1 million passings within our northern New England service areas. Since 2021, we have upgraded approximately 960,000 homes and small businesses to FTTP, respectively, and we launched Fidium Fiber, our new Gigabit fiber internet product to consumers and small business customers. In 2024, we plan to upgrade at least 85,000 passings and expand Fidium Fiber further into our footprint. By leveraging our existing dense core fiber network and an accelerated build plan, we will be able to significantly increase broadband speeds, expand our multi-Gig coverage and strategically extend our network across our strong existing commercial and carrier footprint to attract more on-net and near-net opportunities. As we invest in network upgrades, we believe we will see stable-to-improved trends in revenue growth and increased broadband penetration. We believe these fiber investments will help us future-proof our network and facilitate the continued transformation of Consolidated into a leading super-regional fiber communications service provider.

Searchlight is a strategic partner in our execution of this investment and brings a differentiated perspective to our broadband-first strategy. They are an experienced broadband and fiber infrastructure investor and they bring significant experience investing in FTTP and broadband expansion. Through our partnership with Searchlight, we have and will continue to pursue targeted investments in our business and future growth opportunities as we transform our company into a leading broadband and solutions provider and create value for our stakeholders, including our customers and employees.

A discussion of factors potentially affecting our operations is set forth in Part I – Item 1A – “Risk Factors.”

Recent Business Developments

Merger Agreement

On October 15, 2023, we entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger (the “Merger Agreement”) with Condor Holdings LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (“Parent”) affiliated with certain funds managed by affiliates of Searchlight, and Condor Merger Sub Inc., a Delaware corporation and a wholly owned subsidiary of Parent (“Merger Sub”), pursuant to which, subject to the terms and conditions thereof, Merger Sub will merge with and into the Company (the “Merger”) with the Company continuing as the surviving corporation and a wholly owned subsidiary of an affiliate of Searchlight. British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (“BCI”) and certain affiliates of Searchlight have committed to provide equity financing to Parent to fund the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement. Searchlight is currently the beneficial owner of approximately 34% of the Company’s outstanding shares of common stock and is the holder of 100% of the Company’s outstanding Series A perpetual preferred stock. Subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Merger Agreement, upon the consummation of the Merger, each share of the Company’s common stock, par value $0.01 per share (other than shares of the Company’s common stock (i) held directly or indirectly by Parent, Merger Sub or any subsidiary of the Company, (ii) held by the Company as treasury shares or (iii) held by any person who properly exercises appraisal rights under Delaware law) will be converted into the right to receive an amount in cash equal to $4.70 per share, without interest (the “Merger Consideration”), subject to any withholding of taxes required by applicable law. In addition, pursuant to the Merger Agreement, upon the consummation of the Merger, (i) Company restricted share awards (“Company RSAs”) held by non-employee directors or by certain affiliates of Searchlight will vest and be canceled in exchange for the Merger Consideration and (ii) all other Company RSAs will be converted into restricted cash awards based on the Merger Consideration and subject to the same terms and conditions, including time- and performance-based vesting conditions, as the corresponding Company RSA (except that the relative total shareholder return modifier shall be deemed to be achieved at the target level).

The Merger Agreement has, unanimously by the directors present, been approved by the board of directors of the Company (the “Board”), acting upon the unanimous recommendation of a special committee consisting of only independent and disinterested directors of the Company (the “Special Committee”). On January 31, 2024, the Company held a virtual special meeting of stockholders (the “Special Meeting”) to consider three proposals with respect to  the Merger Agreement. The first proposal, to adopt the Merger Agreement, was approved by (i) holders of a majority of the voting power represented by the issued and outstanding shares of our common stock that were entitled to vote thereon, and (ii) holders of a majority of the voting power represented by the issued and outstanding shares of our common stock that were entitled to vote thereon and held by Unaffiliated Stockholders (as defined in the Merger Agreement). The second proposal, to approve by advisory (non-binding) vote the compensation that may be paid or become payable to the named executive

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officers of the Company in connection with the consummation of the Merger, was approved by the requisite vote of the Company’s stockholders. The third proposal, to approve any adjournment of the Special Meeting, if necessary, to solicit additional proxies if there were insufficient votes in favor of the Merger Agreement proposal, was also approved by the requisite vote of the Company’s stockholders. Because the Merger Agreement proposal was approved by the requisite vote, no adjournment to solicit additional proxies was necessary.

The proposed transaction constitutes a “going-private transaction” under the rules of the SEC and is expected to close by the first quarter of 2025. The closing of the Merger is subject to various conditions, including (i) the expiration or termination of the applicable waiting periods (and any extensions thereof) under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (the “HSR Act”); (ii) the receipt of certain required consents or approvals from (a) the Federal Communications Commission, (b) the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, (c) state public utility commissions and (d) local regulators in connection with the provision of telecommunications and media services; (iii) the absence of any order, injunction or decree restraining, enjoining or otherwise prohibiting or making illegal the consummation of the Merger or the other transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement; and (iv) the accuracy of the representations and warranties contained in the Merger Agreement, subject to customary materiality qualifications, as of the date of the Merger Agreement and the date of closing, and performance in all material respects of the covenants and agreements contained in the Merger Agreement. The transaction is not subject to a financing condition. We are awaiting required regulatory approvals in order to execute the Merger. Following the closing of the transaction, shares of our common stock will no longer be traded or listed on any public securities exchange.

Additional information about the Merger Agreement and the Merger is set forth in the Company’s Definitive Proxy Statement on Schedule 14A filed with the SEC on December 18, 2023, as supplemented.  

Sources of Revenue

The following tables summarize our sources of revenue and key operating statistics for the last three fiscal years:

2023

2022

2021

% of

% of

% of

(In millions, except for percentages)

    

$

  

Revenues

$

   

Revenues

    

$

   

Revenues

Consumer:

Broadband (Data and VoIP)

$

290.8

26.2

$

272.1

22.8

$

269.3

21.0

%

Voice services

 

125.2

11.3

 

144.8

12.2

 

160.7

12.5

Video services

 

35.0

3.2

 

54.2

4.5

 

65.1

5.1

451.0

40.7

471.1

39.5

495.1

38.6

Commercial:

Data services (includes VoIP)

 

214.7

19.3

 

228.5

19.2

 

228.9

17.9

Voice services

 

127.9

11.5

 

142.3

12.0

 

154.6

12.1

Other

 

39.9

3.6

 

43.1

3.6

 

40.0

3.1

382.5

34.4

413.9

34.8

423.5

33.1

Carrier:

Data and transport services

 

127.2

11.5

 

137.4

11.5

 

133.4

10.4

Voice services

 

15.6

1.4

 

14.7

1.2

 

17.2

1.4

Other

 

1.2

0.1

 

1.7

0.2

 

1.6

0.1

144.0

13.0

153.8

12.9

152.2

11.9

Subsidies

27.9

2.5

33.4

2.8

69.8

5.4

Network access

90.2

8.1

104.7

8.8

120.5

9.4

Other products and services

 

14.5

1.3

 

14.4

1.2

 

21.1

1.6

Total operating revenues

$

1,110.1

100.0

$

1,191.3

100.0

$

1,282.2

100.0

%

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Key Operating Statistics

As of December 31,

 

    

2023

    

2022

    

2021

 

Consumer customers

498,082

484,669

516,949

Fiber Gig+ capable

195,195

122,872

86,122

DSL/Copper

198,024

244,586

298,442

Consumer data connections

393,219

367,458

384,564

Consumer voice connections

239,587

276,779

328,849

Video connections

21,900

35,039

63,447

We completed the sale of substantially all of the assets of our non-core, rural ILEC business located in Ohio (the “Ohio operations”) and our business located in the Kansas City market (the “Kansas City operations”) on January 31, 2022 and November 30, 2022, respectively. For the year ended December 31, 2022, operating revenues for the Kansas City operations were $45.5 million, or 3.8% of consolidated operating revenues. For the year ended December 31, 2021, operating revenues for the Ohio operations and the Kansas City operations were $8.9 million and $51.3 million, or 0.7% and 4.0% of consolidated operating revenues, respectively. The sale of substantially all of the net assets of our Kansas City operations and Ohio operations resulted in a reduction of approximately 3,325 fiber consumer data connections, 14,505 DSL/Copper consumer data connections and 14,800 video connections in 2022. Prior period amounts have not been adjusted to reflect the sales.

The telecommunications industry continues to experience increased competition as a result of technology changes, new and emerging providers, and legislative and regulatory developments. Our focus is on expanding our fiber broadband services and upgrading data speeds in order to offer a highly competitive fiber product.  We expect our broadband services revenue to continue to grow as we make increased investments in our fiber infrastructure and consumer demand for data-based services and faster speeds increases. In addition, we continue to focus on commercial growth opportunities and are continually expanding our commercial product offerings for small, medium and large businesses to capitalize on industry technological advances. Operating revenues continue to be impacted by the industry-wide trend of declines in voice services, access lines and related network access revenue.

Consumer

Broadband Services

Broadband services include revenues from residential customers for subscriptions to our data products. We offer high-speed Internet access at speeds of up to 2 Gbps, depending on the network facilities that are available, the level of service selected and the location. Our data service plans also include wireless internet access, email and internet security and protection. Our fiber internet product offers symmetrical speeds from 50 Mbps to 2 Gbps over the latest WiFi 6 technology with no data caps. Customers have the ability to view and manage their WiFi network through our Attune WiFi app, which enables customers to create individual profiles, turn on parental controls, manage devices and provide guest access. Our Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) digital phone service is also available in certain markets as an alternative to the traditional telephone line. We offer multiple voice service plans with options for unlimited local and long distance calls and customizable calling features and voicemail including voicemail to email options.

Video Services

Depending on geographic market availability, our video services range from limited basic service to advanced digital television, which includes several plans, each with hundreds of local, national and music channels including premium and Pay-Per-View channels as well as video on-demand service.  Certain customers may also subscribe to our advanced video services, which consist of high-definition television, digital video recorders (“DVR”) and/or a whole home DVR. Our Whole Home DVR allows customers the ability to watch recorded shows on any television in the home, record multiple shows simultaneously and utilize an intuitive on-screen guide and user interface. Our video subscribers can also watch their favorite shows, movies and livestreams on any device. In addition, we offer several on-demand streaming TV services, which provide endless entertainment options. As the consumer demand for streaming services increases, we continue to de-emphasize our linear video services and transition customers to streaming TV packages offered through our streaming partnerships.

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Voice Services

We offer several different basic local phone service packages and long-distance calling plans, including unlimited flat-rate calling plans. The plans include options for voicemail and other custom calling features such as caller ID, call forwarding and call waiting. The number of local access lines in service directly affects the recurring revenue we generate from end users and continues to be impacted by the industry-wide decline in access lines. We expect to continue to experience erosion in voice connections due to competition from alternative technologies, including our own competing VoIP product.

Commercial

Data Services

We provide a variety of business communication solutions to commercial customers of all sizes, including voice and data services over our advanced fiber network. The services we offer include scalable high-speed broadband Internet access, SIP trunking and VoIP phone services, which range from basic service plans to virtual hosted systems. Our hosted VoIP package utilizes soft switching technology and enables our customers to have the flexibility of employing new telephone advances and features without investing in a new telephone system. The package bundles local service, calling features, Internet protocol (“IP”) business telephones and unified messaging, which integrates multiple messaging technologies into a single system and allows the customer to receive and listen to voice messages through email.

In addition to Internet and VoIP services, we also offer a variety of commercial data connectivity services in select markets including Ethernet services; private line data services; software defined wide area network (“SD-WAN”), a software-based network technology that provides a simplified management and automation of wide area network connections; and multi-protocol label switching. Our networking services include point-to-point and multi-point deployments to accommodate the growth patterns of our business customers. We offer a suite of cloud-based services, which includes a hosted unified communications solution that replaces the customer’s on-site phone systems and data networks, managed network security services and data protection services. Data center and disaster recovery solutions provide a reliable and local colocation option for commercial customers.

Voice Services

Voice services include basic local phone and long-distance service packages for business customers. The plans include options for voicemail, conference calling, linking multiple office locations and other custom calling features such as caller ID, call forwarding, speed dialing and call waiting.  Services can be charged at a fixed monthly rate or a measured rate or can be bundled with selected services at a discounted rate.

Other

Other services include business equipment sales and related hardware and maintenance support, video services and other miscellaneous revenues, including 911 service revenues. We are a full service 911 provider and have installed and currently maintain a turn-key, state of the art statewide next-generation emergency 911 system located in Maine. Next-generation emergency 911 systems are an improvement over traditional 911 and are expected to provide the foundation to handle future communication modes such as texting and video.

Carrier

We provide high-speed fiber data transmission services to regional and national interexchange and wireless carriers including Ethernet, cellular backhaul, dark fiber and colocation services. The demand for backhaul services continues to grow as wireless carriers are faced with escalating consumer and commercial demands for wireless data. Voice services include basic local phone service packages with customized features for resell by wholesale customers. The plans include options for voicemail, conference calling, linking multiple office locations and other custom calling features.  

Subsidies

Subsidies consist of both federal and state funding designed to promote widely available, quality broadband services at affordable prices with higher data speeds in rural areas and for low-income consumers across the country. Some subsidies are funded by end user surcharges to which telecommunications providers, including local, long-distance and wireless

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carriers, contribute on a monthly basis, while others are components of broader economic stimulus or recovery legislation.  Certain subsidies are allocated and distributed to participating carriers monthly based upon their respective costs for providing local service.  In other cases, subsidies are awarded to carriers periodically over a predetermined number of years to support their deployment of high-speed broadband infrastructure in underserved or unserved areas. Similar to access charges, subsidies are regulated by the federal and state regulatory commissions.  See Part I – Item 1 – “Regulatory Environment” below and Item 1A – “Risk Factors – Risks Related to the Regulation of Our Business” for further discussion regarding the subsidies we receive.

Network Access Services

Network access services include interstate and intrastate switched access, network special access and end user access.  Switched access revenues include access services to other communications carriers to terminate or originate long-distance calls on our network.  Special access circuits provide dedicated lines and trunks to business customers and interexchange carriers. Certain of our network access revenues are based on rates set or approved by the federal and state regulatory commissions or as directed by law that are subject to change at any time.

Other Products and Services

Other products and services include revenues from telephone directory publishing, video advertising, billing and support services and other miscellaneous revenues such as revenue from our Public Private Partnership arrangements. We have entered into numerous Public Private Partnership agreements with several towns in New Hampshire and Vermont to build new FTTP Internet networks. The new town networks provide multi-gigabit broadband speeds to residential and commercial customers. Public Private Partnerships are a key component of Consolidated’s commitment to expand rural broadband access.

Wireless Partnerships

Prior to their sale, we derived a portion of our cash flow and earnings from investments in five wireless partnerships: GTE Mobilnet of South Texas Limited Partnership (“Mobilnet South Partnership”), GTE Mobilnet of Texas RSA #17 Limited Partnership (“RSA #17”), Pittsburgh SMSA Limited Partnership (“Pittsburgh SMSA”), Pennsylvania RSA No. 6(I) Limited Partnership (“RSA 6(I)”) and Pennsylvania RSA No. 6(II) Limited Partnership (“RSA 6(II)”). Cellco is the general partner for each of the five cellular partnerships. Cellco is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc. As the general partner, Cellco is responsible for managing the operations of each partnership.

On September 13, 2022, we completed the sale of all of our limited partnership interests in the five wireless partnerships to Cellco for an aggregate purchase price of $490.0 million, other than a portion of the interest in one of the partnerships which was sold to a limited partner of such partnership pursuant to its right of first refusal. The proceeds from the sale were used in part to support our fiber expansion plan. The financial results of the limited partnership interests have been reported as discontinued operations in our consolidated financial statements for all prior periods presented. Prior to classification as discontinued operations, wireless partnership investment income was included as a component of other income in the consolidated statements of operations.  

We owned 2.34% of the Mobilnet South Partnership.  The principal activity of the Mobilnet South Partnership is providing cellular service in the Houston, Galveston and Beaumont, Texas metropolitan areas.  We accounted for this investment at our initial cost less any impairment because fair value was not readily available for this investment.  Income was recognized only upon cash distributions of our proportionate earnings in the partnership.

We owned 20.51% of RSA #17, which serves areas in and around Conroe, Texas.  This investment was accounted for under the equity method.  Income was recognized on our proportionate share of earnings and cash distributions were recorded as a reduction in our investment.

We owned 3.60% of Pittsburgh SMSA, 16.67% of RSA 6(I) and 23.67% of RSA 6(II).  These partnerships cover territories that almost entirely overlap the markets served by our Pennsylvania Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (“ILEC”) and Competitive Local Exchange Carrier operations.  Because of our limited influence over Pittsburgh SMSA, we accounted for this investment at our initial cost less any impairment because fair value was not readily available for this investment.  RSA 6(I) and RSA 6(II) were accounted for under the equity method.

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For the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021, we recognized income of $23.5 million and $41.8 million, respectively, and received cash distributions of $29.2 million and $43.0 million, respectively, from these wireless partnerships.

Network Architecture and Technology

We have made significant investments in our telecommunications networks and continue to enhance and expand our network by deploying technologies to provide additional capacity to our customers. As a result, we are able to deliver high-quality, reliable data, video and voice services in the markets we serve.  Our wide-ranging network and extensive use of fiber provide an easy reach into existing and new areas. By bringing the fiber network closer to the customer premise, we can increase our service offerings, quality and bandwidth. Our existing network enables us to efficiently respond and adapt to changes in technology and is capable of supporting the rising customer demand for bandwidth in order to support the growing amount of wireless data devices in our customers’ homes and businesses.

Our networks are supported by advanced 100% digital switches, with a core fiber network connecting all remote exchanges. We have deployed fiber-optic cable extensively throughout our network, resulting in a 100% fiber backbone network that supports all of the inter-office and host-remote links, as well as the majority of business parks within our service areas. In addition, this fiber infrastructure provides the connectivity required to provide broadband and long-distance services to our residential and commercial customers.  Our fiber network utilizes FTTP to offer bundled residential and commercial services. In markets where fiber deployment is not yet economically feasible, we continue to enhance our copper network to increase bandwidth in order to provide additional products and services to our marketable homes.  

We operate advanced fiber networks which we own or have entered into long-term leases for fiber network access.  At December 31, 2023, our fiber-optic network consisted of over 60,000 route-miles, which includes approximately 20,400 miles of FTTP deployments, approximately 22,420 route miles of fiber located in the northern New England area, approximately 3,960 miles of fiber network in Minnesota and surrounding areas, approximately 4,830 miles of fiber network in Texas including parts of the greater Dallas/Fort Worth market, approximately 1,860 route-miles of fiber-optic facilities in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, approximately 2,330 miles of fiber network in Illinois and approximately 1,150 route-miles of fiber optic facilities in California that cover large parts of the greater Sacramento metropolitan area. Our remaining network includes approximately 3,490 route-miles spanning across various states including portions of Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington.  

As of December 31, 2023, we passed more than 2.6 million homes, of which approximately 47% were at least 1 Gig capable, and have direct fiber connections to 15,105 on-net commercial building locations. We intend to continue to make strategic enhancements to our network including improvements in overall network reliability and increases to our broadband speeds. We offer data speeds of up to 2 Gbps in select markets, and up to 100 Mbps in markets where 2 Gbps is not yet available, depending on the geographical region. As part of our multi-year fiber build plan, we plan to extend fiber coverage enabling multi-Gig data speeds to over 70% of our passings. The ultimate total passings will be dependent upon, amongst other things, our ability to secure Public Private Partnership grant arrangement opportunities. Further network investments will enable us to continue to meet consumer demand for faster broadband speeds, symmetrical broadband and more bandwidth consumption as well as more effectively serve our commercial customers.

Through our extensive fiber network, we also expect to be able to support the increased demand on wireless carriers for high-capacity transport services, and intend to also leverage our investments to grow commercial data services. In all the markets we serve, we have launched initiatives to support fiber backhaul services to cell sites. As of December 31, 2023, we had 3,806 cell sites in service and an additional 166 additional cell sites pending completion.

Sales and Marketing

The key components of our overall marketing strategy include:

Organizing our sales and marketing activities around our three customer channels: consumer, commercial and carrier customers;

Providing customers with a broad array of broadband, voice and communication solutions;

Identifying and broadening our commercial customer needs by developing solutions and providing integrated service offerings;

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Offering digital self-service tools and apps including an enhanced website, automated consumer online orders, appointment reminders, robust Wifi apps, user guides and troubleshooting tools and videos;

Providing excellent customer service, including 24/7 centralized customer support to coordinate installation of new services, repair and maintenance functions and creating more self-service tools through our online customer portal;

Developing and delivering new services to meet evolving customer needs and market demands;

Building our Fidium Fiber brand as our leading consumer and small business fiber service with a differentiated customer service; and

Leveraging our local presence and strong reputation across our market areas.

We currently offer our services through customer service call centers, our website, commissioned sales representatives and third-party sales agents. Our customer service call centers and dedicated sales teams serve as the primary sales channels for consumer, commercial and carrier services.  Our sales efforts are supported by digital media, direct mail, bill inserts, radio, television and internet advertising, public relations activities, community events and customer promotions. We sell our Gigabit consumer fiber broadband service in select markets using the brand known as Fidium Fiber, which launched in November 2021. In February 2023, we launched Fidium@Work and expanded our Fidium Fiber service to small businesses everywhere Fidium internet is available.

In addition to our customer service call centers, customers can contact us through our website, online chat and social media channels.  Our online customer portal enables customers to pay their bills, manage their accounts, order new services and utilize self-service help and support. Our priority is to continue enhancing our comprehensive customer care system in order to produce a high level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, which is important to our ability to reduce churn and generate recurring revenues.

Business Strategies

Transform our Company into a dominant fiber, gigabit broadband provider

In 2020, in connection with the Searchlight investment, we announced plans to upgrade and expand our fiber network through a multi-year build plan with construction beginning in early 2021. The build plan includes the upgrade of approximately 1.6 million passings to fiber enabling multi-Gigabit capable services to over 70% of our passings. The ultimate total passings upgraded to fiber will be dependent upon, amongst other things, our ability to secure Public Private Partnership grant arrangements and other broadband infrastructure funding opportunities. Since 2021, we built fiber to approximately 960,000 passings enabling faster broadband speeds and in 2024, we plan to upgrade at least 85,000 locations. This marks the biggest fiber deployment project in our Company’s history. Our strategy is to meaningfully upgrade our residential and small business network in those service territories with a predominantly copper-based infrastructure to a FTTP network.  Of the planned upgrades, we expect that more than 1 million passings will be upgraded within the northern New England service areas. We believe that the upgraded network will be capable of providing up to 10 Gbps of symmetrical broadband, which we believe will make us the only broadband provider in these markets capable of delivering 10 Gbps symmetrical broadband to consumers. In addition to best-in-class upload and download speeds, we believe the resulting network will offer better reliability, improved speed consistency, and a lower operating cost relative to competing broadband network technologies. Given these benefits, we believe that our fiber deployment strategy will continue to allow us to realize meaningful improvements in average revenue per user, broadband subscriber penetration and customer retention.

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Grow and invest in commercial and carrier services

Our commercial and carrier strategy is built on leveraging our dense fiber network in key markets to offer IP-based products and services to our small and medium-sized business (“SMB”), enterprise and carrier customers. We will continue transitioning our customer base away from legacy TDM-based products to fiber and IP-based data and transport services, where we see significant opportunity to increase market share in our footprint. We will also make strategic network investments in both existing markets and edge-out locations to enhance our footprint and increase on-net and near-net opportunities. These builds will be focused on projects with high revenue visibility and attractive payback periods. Our carrier strategy entails leveraging our dense fiber network and long-term relationships in key markets to expand our carrier partnerships and grow small cell and fiber-to-the-tower connections. Investing not just in the network, but in these customer relationships, has been core to our success. Our growth strategy is also supported by the continuous evolution of our product offerings. We are regularly developing and enhancing our suite of managed and cloud services, increasing efficiency and enabling greater scalability and reliability for our business customers. We believe that by developing and investing in next-generation fiber-based products, we will be able to further support our customer needs for networking, communications, and collaboration services.

Improve the overall customer experience

We continue to evaluate our operations in order to improve and enhance the overall customer experience for all customers. In conjunction with the multi-year fiber build plan, we also expect to make significant investments in our back-office infrastructure. We expect our full transformation to occur over a multi-year period. Our planned enhancements include an improved customer portal where customers can manage all aspects of their service. We believe that our digital transformation projects will improve our order and install processes making the transition to our services more seamless than ever. Our sales process has been redesigned in order to provide personalized sales channels and a dedicated care team for our fiber customers. We have a culture of delivering the highest quality customer service experience possible and plan to continue to make investments in our platforms in order to create a truly differentiated customer experience.

Improve operating efficiency

In 2023, we initiated a business simplification and cost savings initiative plan intended to further align our company as a fiber-first provider, improve operating efficiencies, lower our cost structure and ultimately improve the overall customer experience. This initiative included a reduction in workforce, consolidation and elimination of certain facilities and review of our product offerings. We will continue to seek to improve operating efficiency through technology, better practices and procedures and through cost containment measures.

Competition

The telecommunications industry is subject to extensive competition, which has increased significantly in recent years.  Technological advances have expanded the types and uses of services and products available.  In addition, changes in the regulatory and legislative environment applicable to comparable alternative services have lowered costs for these competitors.  As a result, we face heightened competition but also have new opportunities to grow our broadband business.  Our competitors vary by market and may include other incumbent and competitive local telephone companies; cable operators offering data, video and VoIP products; wireless carriers; long distance providers; satellite companies; Internet service providers, including fixed wireless Internet service providers (“WISPs”); online video providers; and in some cases new forms of providers that are able to offer a broad range of competitive services.  We expect competition to remain a significant factor affecting our operating results and that the nature and extent of that competition will continue to increase in the future.  See Part I - Item 1A – “Risk Factors – Risks Relating to Our Business.”

Depending on the market area, we compete against Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Mediacom, Armstrong, Optimum, First Light, NewWave Communications and a number of other carriers, in both the commercial and consumer markets. Our competitors offer traditional telecommunications services as well as IP-based services and other emerging data-based services. Our competitors continue to add features and adopt aggressive pricing and packaging for services comparable to the services we offer.

We continue to face competition from cable, wireless and other fiber data providers as the demand for substitute communication services, such as wireless phones and data devices, continues to increase.  Customers are increasingly foregoing traditional telephone services and land-based Internet service and relying exclusively on wireless service.  

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Wireless companies are aggressively developing networks using next-generation data technologies, including 5G and beyond, in order to provide increasingly faster data speeds to their customers. A growing number of companies are also building and enhancing their fiber networks in order to provide multi-Gigabit capable broadband services within many of our service areas. Broadband-deployment funding initiatives from federal and state agencies, including federal infrastructure legislation enacted in 2021, may also result in other service providers deploying new subsidized fiber networks within our service territories. In addition, the expanded availability of free or lower cost services, such as video over the Internet, complimentary Wi-Fi service and other streaming devices have increased competition among other providers. In order to offer competitive services, we continue to invest in our network and business operations in order to offer new and enhanced services including faster broadband speeds and cloud-enabled services.

In our rural markets, services are more costly to provide than services in urban areas as a lower customer density necessitates higher capital expenditures on a per-customer basis.  As a result, it may not be economically viable for new entrants to overlap existing networks in rural territories; however, federal and state funding initiatives may enable new entrants to deploy new subsidized networks in our rural markets.  Despite the barriers to entry, rural telephone companies still face significant competition from wireless and video providers and, to a lesser extent, competitive telephone companies.

Our other lines of business are subject to substantial competition from local, regional and national competitors.  In particular, our wholesale and transport business serves other interexchange carriers and we compete with a variety of service providers, including incumbent and competitive local telephone companies and other fiber data companies. These services are subject to additional competitive pressures from the development of new technologies, which may result in price compression as customers migrate from legacy data products to lower priced alternatives.  For our business systems products, we compete with other equipment providers or value added resellers, network providers, incumbent and competitive local telephone companies, and with cloud and data hosting service providers.

We expect that competition across all of our customer channels will continue to intensify as new technologies develop and new competition emerges.

Human Capital Resources

As of December 31, 2023, we employed approximately 3,180 employees, including part-time employees. We also use temporary and contract employees in the normal course of our business. Approximately 44% of our employees were covered by collective bargaining agreements as of December 31, 2023.  For a more detailed discussion regarding how the collective bargaining agreements could affect our business, see Part I - Item 1A – Risk Factors – “Risks Relating to Our Business.”

Compensation and Benefits

Our employees are the cornerstone of our success.  We are committed to providing meaningful, challenging work and opportunities for professional growth in a positive environment. To attract and retain qualified and experienced employees, we offer competitive compensation and benefit packages, which we believe are competitive within the industry and the local markets in which we operate. Our benefit packages may include, among other items, incentive compensation based on the achievement of financial targets, healthcare and insurance benefits, health savings and flexible spending accounts, a 401(k) savings plan with an employer match, paid time off, and wellness and employee assistance programs. Additionally, for certain eligible directors and employees, we provide long-term incentive compensation, in the form of restricted stock awards. In addition, we are committed to providing employees continuing education and training programs in order for employees to achieve career goals and professional growth.

Diversity and Inclusion

We embrace diversity and inclusion and seek to hire and retain high-quality employees of all backgrounds and experiences. Honoring our employees as individuals is key to our culture. We believe diversity of backgrounds contributes to different ideas, which in turn drives better results for customers. We respect differences and diversity as qualities that enhance our efforts as a team and believe embracing diversity and a culture of inclusion makes our company a better place to work. We believe in and support the principles incorporated in all anti-discrimination and equal employment laws. We have adopted a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (“DEI”) policy led by the Human Resources team in collaboration with the DEI Council. DEI Council is a cross-functional team that meets regularly and develops resources and provides input and

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guidance aimed at building a company environment where differences are welcomed and every employee feels supported and can be successful, and our customers and communities are recognized and respected. DEI Council has created and published a Pronoun Resource Guide to help employees navigate discussions around gender identity and pronoun use and ensure a more welcoming environment to employees across the gender spectrum. Our employees complete training each year on discrimination and harassment prevention on topics that include ageism, anti-bullying and respect for people from other racial, ethnic and religious groups. We continue to expand our DEI initiatives and are actively working to help advance our diversity journey and build upon our practices on diversity, inclusion and fairness.

Safety, Health and Security

We also strive to create and provide a safe, healthful and secure workplace that is free from discrimination or harassment. Our workplace policies and procedures protect against behavior that creates an offensive, hostile, or intimidating work environment. Safety is top priority and we have a strong, ongoing commitment to ensure employees are properly trained and have appropriate safety and emergency equipment.

Regulatory Environment

The following summary does not describe all existing and proposed legislation and regulations affecting the telecommunications industry.  Regulation can change rapidly and ongoing proceedings and hearings could alter the manner in which the telecommunications industry operates.  We cannot predict the outcome of any of these developments, nor their potential impact on us.  See Part I – Item 1A – “Risk Factors—Risks Related to the Regulation of Our Business”.

Overview

Our revenues are subject to broad federal and/or state regulations, which include such telecommunications services as local telephone service, network access service and toll service. The telecommunications industry is subject to extensive federal, state and local regulation. Under the Communications Act of 1934 (the “Communications Act” and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (the “Telecommunications Act”), federal and state regulators share responsibility for implementing and enforcing statutes and regulations designed to encourage competition and to preserve and advance widely available, quality telephone service at affordable prices.

 

At the federal level, the FCC generally exercises jurisdiction over facilities and services of local exchange carriers, such as our rural telephone companies, to the extent they are used to provide, originate or terminate interstate or international communications.  The FCC has the authority to condition, modify, cancel, terminate or revoke our operating authority for failure to comply with applicable federal laws or FCC rules, regulations and policies.  Fines or penalties also may be imposed for any of these violations.

 

State regulatory commissions generally exercise jurisdiction over carriers’ facilities and services to the extent they are used to provide, originate or terminate intrastate communications.  In particular, state regulatory agencies have substantial oversight over interconnection and network access by competitors of our rural telephone companies.  In addition, municipalities and other local government agencies regulate the public rights-of-way necessary to install and operate networks.  State regulators can sanction our rural telephone companies or revoke our certifications if we violate relevant laws or regulations.

Federal Regulation

Our incumbent local exchange companies and competitive local exchange companies must comply with the Communications Act, which requires, among other things, that telecommunications carriers offer services at just and reasonable rates and on non-discriminatory terms and conditions.  

Access Charges

On November 18, 2011, the FCC released its comprehensive order on inter-carrier compensation (“ICC”) and universal service reform (“Transformation Order”), which required terminating state access charges to mirror terminating interstate access charges, and as of July 1, 2013, all terminating switched intrastate access charges mirror interstate access charges. The access charge portion of the Transformation Order systematically reduced minute-of-use-based interstate access, intrastate access and reciprocal compensation rates over a six to nine-year period to an end state of “bill-and-keep,” in

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which each carrier recovers the costs of its network through charges to its own subscribers, rather than through ICC.  The reductions apply to terminating access rates and usage, with originating access to be addressed by the FCC in a later proceeding.  To help with the transition to bill-and-keep, the FCC created two subsidy mechanisms.  The first is an Access Recovery Mechanism (“ARM”), which is funded from the Connect America Fund (“CAF”), and the second is an Access Recovery Charge (“ARC”), which is recovered from end users.  

The universal service portion of the Transformation Order redirected support from voice services to broadband services, and is now called the CAF. In December 2014, the FCC released a report and order that addressed, among other things, the transition to CAF Phase II funding for price cap carriers and the acceptance criteria for CAF Phase II funding.  Companies were required to commit to a statewide build out requirement of 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream in funded locations. Our annual support through the FCC’s CAF Phase II funding was $48.1 million through 2021 as described below.  

In April 2019, the FCC announced plans for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”), the next phase of the CAF program. The RDOF is a $20.4 billion fund to bring speeds of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream to unserved and underserved areas of America. The RDOF program prioritizes terrestrial broadband as a bridge to rural 5G networks by providing a significant weight advantage to traditional broadband providers. Funding will occur in two phases with the first phase auctioning $16.0 billion and the second phase (which is not certain to occur) auctioning $4.4 billion, each to be distributed over 10 years. The minimum speed required to receive funding is 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. Consolidated won 246 census block groups serving in seven states in the 2020 auction. The bids we won are at the 1 Gbps downstream and 500 Mbps upstream speed tier to approximately 27,000 locations at an annual funding level of $5.9 million, beginning January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2031, which resulted in a reduction of approximately $42.2 million in annual support as of January 1, 2022. Consolidated began receiving RDOF funding in January 2022.

Promotion of Universal Service

In general, telecommunications service in rural areas is costlier to provide than service in urban areas. The lower customer density means that switching and other facilities serve fewer customers and loops are typically longer, requiring greater expenditures per customer to build and maintain.  By supporting the high cost of operations in rural markets, Universal Service Fund (“USF”) subsidies promote widely available, quality telephone service at affordable prices in rural areas.  Revenues from federal and certain states’ USFs totaled $27.9 million, $33.4 million and $69.8 million in 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively.  

State Regulation

We are subject to regulation by state governments in the jurisdictions in which we operate. State regulatory commissions generally exercise jurisdiction over our provision of intrastate telecommunications services. In recent years, most states have reduced their regulation of ILECs, including our ILEC operations. Nonetheless, state regulatory commissions generally continue to (i) set the rates that telecommunication companies charge each other for exchanging traffic, (ii) administer support programs designed to subsidize the provision of services to high-cost rural areas, (iii) regulate the purchase and sale of ILECs, (iv) require ILECs to provide service under publicly-filed tariffs setting forth the terms, conditions and prices of regulated services, (v) regulate ILECs’ financing activities including their ability to borrow against and pledge their assets, (vi) regulate transactions between ILECs and their affiliates and (vii) impose various quality of service standards. In many states, BDS and switched interconnection services are subject to price regulation, although the extent of such regulation varies by type of service and geographic region.

We operate in states where traditional cost recovery mechanisms, including state USF, are under evaluation or have been modified. As states continue to assess their laws and implement various regulatory changes, there can be no assurance that these mechanisms will continue to provide us with the same level of cost recovery we historically have received.

Local Government Authorizations

In the various states we operate in, we operate under a structure in which municipalities and other local governmental authorities may impose various fees, such as for the privilege of originating and terminating messages and placing facilities within the relevant area, for obtaining permits for street opening and construction, and/or for operating franchises to install and expand fiber optic facilities.  

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Regulation of Video and Internet Services

Video Services

Our cable television subsidiaries each require a state or local franchise or other similar authorization in order to provide cable television service to customers. Each of these subsidiaries is subject to regulation under Title VI of the Communications Act.

Under this framework, the responsibilities and obligations of franchising bodies and cable operators have been carefully defined. The law addresses such issues as the use of local streets and rights-of-way; the carriage of public, educational and governmental channels; the provision of channel space for leased commercial access; the amount and payment of franchise fees; consumer protection and similar issues.  In addition, federal laws place limits on the common ownership of cable systems and competing multichannel video distribution systems, and on the common ownership of cable systems and local telephone systems in the same geographic area.  Many such provisions of federal law have been implemented through FCC regulations. The FCC has expanded its oversight and regulation of certain aspects of the provision of cable television over time.  For example, it has acted to assure that new competitors in the cable television business are able to gain access to potential customers and can also obtain licenses to carry certain types of video programming.

Internet Services

The provision of Internet access services is currently not significantly regulated by either the FCC or the state commissions (with the exception of the California Public Utilities Commission).  The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has authority to regulate Internet Service Providers with respect to privacy and competitive practices. In 2017, the FCC adopted an order rescinding its previous classification of Internet service as a telecommunications service regulated under Title II of the Communications Act effectively limiting the FCC’s authority over Internet Service Providers. However, the FCC retained rules requiring Internet Service Providers to disclose practices associated with blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of Internet traffic. The FCC order was challenged in court and in 2019, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the FCC’s decision reclassifying Internet access services as an information service. In October 2023, the FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking to reclassify certain broadband internet services as telecommunications services imposing certain network neutrality requirements on the reclassified internet services. In addition, several states have adopted rules similar to the network neutrality requirements that were eliminated by the FCC and new state legislation may be adopted in the future.

The outcome of pending matters before the FCC and the FTC and any potential congressional action cannot be determined at this time but could lead to increased costs for the Company in connection with our provision of Internet services, and could affect our ability to compete in the markets we serve.

Broadband Adoption Initiatives

Federal and state governments have adopted initiatives to provide funding programs to assist in the deployment of broadband in order to support access to high speed broadband services in underserved or unserved areas. The awards may include a number of regulatory requirements including the completion of construction by certain dates. We are evaluating each of these programs and expect to continue to pursue funding opportunities available to us. We cannot predict what funding we will receive, the ultimate requirements that will be adopted or the impact of these programs on our business.

American Rescue Plan Act Funding

Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”), which was signed on March 11, 2021, states have been allocated federal funds to be utilized for capital infrastructure, including broadband deployment, and are in various stages of implementation. We are working with the states and municipalities in which we operate, to participate in this broadband grant program.

Affordable Connectivity Program

The Affordable Connectivity Program (“ACP”) is a broadband affordability program set up to help ensure that households can afford the broadband access they need for work, school, healthcare and more. The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal

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lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. The ACP is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household. The program began distributing funds on March 1, 2022. Consolidated is participating in this program and has approximately 7,900 ACP customers. Unless additional funding is approved by Congress, the initial funding for the ACP is expected to lapse in April 2024.

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“Infrastructure Act”) signed on November 15, 2021 included $65.0 billion to support broadband infrastructure deployment and access across the United States. The broadband internet portion of the Infrastructure Act is aimed at increasing internet coverage for more universal access, including for rural, low-income, and tribal communities. 65% of this funding is set aside specifically for underserved communities. Additionally, this measure is designed to help make internet access more affordable and increase digital literacy.

The Infrastructure Act set aside $42.5 billion for Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment grants (“BEAD”). The National Telecommunications and Information Administration administers the BEAD program and has awarded grants to jurisdictions across the country, which in turn will use the funding to support service providers’ broadband deployment and access initiatives. The FCC has released its broadband availability and quality map allowing NTIA to move forward with releasing the final BEAD funding allocation to the states. The states had until December 27, 2023 to submit their BEAD plan for approval from NTIA. The requirements for participation in the program have not been finalized and it is currently not known how the funds will be awarded.

Available Information

Our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to reports filed or furnished pursuant to Sections 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, are available free of charge on our website at www.consolidated.com, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC.  Our website also contains copies of our Corporate Governance Principles, Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and charter of each committee of our Board of Directors. The information found on our website is not part of this report or any other report we file with or furnish to the SEC. The public may read and copy reports, proxy and information statements and other information we file with the SEC at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.

Item 1A.  Risk Factors.

Our operations and financial results are subject to various risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those described below, that could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and the trading price of our common stock.

Risk Factors Related to the Proposed Merger

The proposed Merger is subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions, including government consents and approvals, some or all of which may not be satisfied or completed within the expected timeframe, if at all. On January 31, 2024, the adoption of the Merger Agreement was approved by (i) holders of a majority of the voting power represented by the issued and outstanding shares of our common stock that were entitled to vote thereon and (ii) holders of a majority of the voting power represented by the issued and outstanding shares of our common stock that were entitled to vote thereon and held by Unaffiliated Stockholders. Completion of the Merger, however, remains subject to a number of additional closing conditions, including the expiration or termination of the waiting periods (and any extensions thereof) applicable to the consummation of the Merger under the HSR Act, the receipt of other required regulatory approvals, consents or clearances with respect to the Merger from (i) the Federal Communications Commission, (ii) the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, (iii) state public utility commissions and (iv) local regulators in connection with the provision of telecommunications and media services. We can provide no assurance that all required consents and approvals will be obtained or that all closing conditions will otherwise be satisfied (or waived, if applicable), and, even if all required consents and approvals can be obtained and all closing conditions are satisfied (or waived, if applicable), we can provide no assurance as to the terms, conditions and timing of such consents and approvals or the timing of the completion of the Merger. Many of the conditions to completion of the Merger are not within our control, and we cannot predict when or if these conditions will be satisfied (or waived, if applicable). Any adverse consequence of the pending Merger could be exacerbated by any delays in completion of the Merger or termination of the Merger Agreement.

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Each party’s obligation to consummate the Merger is also subject to the accuracy of the representations and warranties of the other party (subject to customary materiality qualifications) and compliance in all material respects with the covenants and agreements contained in the Merger Agreement as of the closing of the Merger, including, with respect to us, covenants to conduct our business in the ordinary course of business and to refrain from taking certain types of actions without Parent’s consent and to not engage in certain kinds of material transactions prior to closing without Parent’s consent. In addition, the Merger Agreement may be terminated under certain specified circumstances. As a result, we cannot assure you that the Merger will be completed, even though our stockholders have approved the Merger, or that, if completed, it will be exactly on the terms set forth in the Merger Agreement or within the expected timeframe.

We may not complete the proposed Merger within the timeframe we anticipate or at all, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial results and/or operations. The proposed Merger may not be completed within the expected timeframe, or at all, as a result of various factors and conditions, some of which may be beyond our control. If the Merger is not completed for any reason, our stockholders will not receive any payment for their shares of our common stock in connection with the Merger. Instead, we will remain a public company, our common stock will continue to be listed and traded on Nasdaq and registered under the Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and we will be required to continue to file periodic reports with the SEC. Moreover, our ongoing business may be materially adversely affected, and we would be subject to a number of risks, including the following:

we may experience negative reactions from the financial markets, including negative impacts on our stock price, and it is uncertain when, if ever, the price of the shares would return to the prices at which the shares currently trade;
we may experience negative publicity, which could have an adverse effect on our ongoing operations including, but not limited to, retaining and attracting employees, customers, partners, suppliers and others with whom we do business;
we will still be required to pay certain significant costs relating to the Merger, such as legal, accounting, financial advisory, printing and other professional services fees, which may relate to activities that we would not have undertaken other than in connection with the Merger;
we may be required to pay a cash termination fee to Parent, as required under the Merger Agreement under certain circumstances;
while the Merger Agreement is in effect, we are subject to restrictions on our business activities, including, among other things, restrictions on our ability to engage in certain kinds of material transactions, which could prevent us from pursuing strategic business opportunities, taking actions with respect to our business that we may consider advantageous and responding effectively and/or timely to competitive pressures and industry developments, and may as a result materially adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition;
our Credit Agreement, with respect to the revolving credit facility only, requires us to comply with specified financial ratios, including a financial covenant based on a maximum Consolidated First Lien Leverage Ratio. If the proposed Merger is not completed by August 1, 2025, the increase in the maximum Consolidated First Lien Leverage Ratio as permitted in the Fifth Amendment to the Credit Agreement to provide interim financial covenant relief will end and the maximum Consolidated First Lien Leverage Ratio will revert to the levels set forth in the Credit Agreement. Borrowings under our revolving credit facility are our primary source of near-term liquidity. If we are not able to comply with the financial covenants on the revolving credit facility, the amount of borrowings available to us may be reduced or eliminated, which may result in losing access to a large portion of our current source of liquidity.

matters relating to the Merger require substantial commitments of time and resources by our management, which could result in the distraction of management from ongoing business operations and pursuing other opportunities that could have been beneficial to us; and
we may commit significant time and resources to defending against litigation related to the Merger.

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If the Merger is not consummated, the risks described above may materialize, and they may have a material adverse effect on our business operations, financial results, liquidity and stock price, particularly to the extent that the current market price of our common stock reflects an assumption that the Merger will be completed. Additionally, other risk factors contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K may be materially exacerbated by a failure to consummate the Merger.

We will be subject to various uncertainties while the Merger is pending that may cause disruption and may make it more difficult to maintain relationships with customers and other third-party business partners. Our efforts to complete the Merger could cause substantial disruptions in, and create uncertainty surrounding, our business, which may materially adversely affect our results of operation and our business. Uncertainty as to whether the Merger will be completed may affect our ability to recruit prospective employees or to retain and motivate existing employees. Employee retention may be particularly challenging while the Merger is pending because employees may experience uncertainty about their roles following the Merger. As mentioned above, a substantial amount of our management’s and employees’ attention is being directed toward the completion of the Merger and thus is being diverted from our day-to-day operations. Uncertainty as to our future could adversely affect our business and our relationship with customers and potential customers. For example, customers, suppliers and other third parties may defer decisions concerning working with us, or seek to change existing business relationships with us. Changes to or termination of existing business relationships could adversely affect our revenue, earnings and financial condition, as well as the market price of our common stock. The adverse effects of the pendency of the Merger could be exacerbated by any delays in completion of the Merger or termination of the Merger Agreement.

We have incurred, and will continue to incur, direct and indirect costs as a result of the Merger. We have incurred, and will continue to incur, significant costs and expenses, including regulatory costs, fees for professional services and other transaction costs in connection with the Merger, for which we will have received little or no benefit if the Merger is not completed. There are a number of factors beyond our control that could affect the total amount or the timing of these costs and expenses. Many of these fees and costs will be payable by us even if the Merger is not completed and may relate to activities that we would not have undertaken other than to complete the Merger.

Litigation challenging the Merger Agreement may prevent the Merger from being consummated within the expected timeframe or at all. In connection with the Merger, two complaints were filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Illinois, Coles County, Illinois, (collectively, the “Actions”). The complaints each alleged that the proxy statement issued in connection with the proposed transaction and Merger omitted material information that rendered the proxy statement incomplete and misleading. Specifically, the complaints alleged, among other things, violations of Section 14(a), Section 20(a) and Rule 14a-9 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, violations of the Illinois Securities Act of 1953, as well as claims under Illinois law for negligent misrepresentation and concealment and negligence. A supplemental disclosure was filed by the Company as definitive additional proxy soliciting material on Schedule 14A with the SEC on January 24, 2024. On January 4, 2024, the complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York was dismissed. On January 25, 2024, the complaint in the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Illinois was dismissed. While the Actions have been dismissed, additional lawsuits may be filed against us, our Board of Directors, the Special Committee of the Board of Directors or other parties to the Merger Agreement, challenging our acquisition by Parent making other claims in connection therewith. Such lawsuits may be brought by our purported stockholders and may seek, among other things, to enjoin consummation of the Merger. One of the conditions to the consummation of the Merger is that the consummation of the Merger is not restrained, made illegal, enjoined or prohibited by any order or legal or regulatory restraint or prohibition of a court of competent jurisdiction or any governmental entity. As such, if the plaintiffs in such potential lawsuits are successful in obtaining an injunction prohibiting the defendants from completing the Merger on the agreed upon terms, then such injunction may prevent the Merger from becoming effective, or from becoming effective within the expected timeframe.

If the Merger is completed, our stockholders will forgo the opportunity to benefit from potential future appreciation in the value of the Company. The Merger Agreement provides for the stockholders of record of the Company’s common stock to receive cash consideration of $4.70 per share of Company common stock, without interest, upon the closing of the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement. If the transaction is consummated, our stockholders will no longer hold interests in the Company and, therefore, will not be entitled to benefit from any potential future appreciation in the value of the Company. In the absence of the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement, we could have various opportunities to enhance the Company’s value, including, but not limited to, entering into a transaction that values the shares of our common stock higher than the value provided for in the Merger Agreement. Therefore, if the Merger is completed, stockholders will forgo future appreciation, if any, in the value of the Company and the opportunity to

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participate in any other potential transactions that may have resulted in a higher price per share than the price to be paid in the transaction contemplated by the Merger Agreement.

If the Merger is not consummated on or before January 15, 2025, either the Company or Parent may terminate the Merger Agreement. Either the Company or Parent may terminate the Merger Agreement if the Merger has not been consummated by January 15, 2025, as such date may be automatically extended pursuant to the terms of the Merger Agreement. This termination right, however, will not be available to a party if that party failed to fulfill its obligations under the Merger Agreement and that failure was the principal cause of, or directly resulted in, the failure to consummate the Merger on time. In the event the Merger Agreement is terminated by either party due to the failure of the Merger to close by January 15, 2025 (as may be extended), we will have incurred significant costs and will have diverted significant management focus and resources from other strategic opportunities and ongoing business activities without realizing the anticipated benefits of the Merger.

Risks Relating to Our Business

We expect to continue to face significant competition in all parts of our business and the level of competition could intensify among our customer channels.  The telecommunications industry is highly competitive.  We face actual and potential competition from many existing and emerging companies, including wireline and wireless companies, long-distance carriers and resellers, Internet service providers, including fixed wireless Internet service providers (“WISPs”), satellite companies and cable television companies, and, in some cases, new forms of providers that are able to offer competitive services through software applications requiring a comparatively small initial investment. Due to consolidations and strategic alliances within the industry, we cannot predict the number of competitors we will face at any given time.

The wireless business has expanded significantly and has caused many subscribers with traditional telephone and land-based Internet access services to give up those services and rely exclusively on wireless service. Wireless companies are aggressively developing networks using next-generation data technologies, including 5G wireless broadband services, in order to provide increasingly faster data speeds to their customers. A growing number of telecommunications companies are also building and enhancing their fiber networks within many of our service areas. Broadband-deployment funding initiatives from federal and state agencies, including federal infrastructure legislation enacted in 2021, may also result in other service providers deploying new subsidized fiber networks within our service territories. In addition, our video service faces increased competition as consumers’ options for viewing television shows have expanded as content becomes increasingly available through alternative sources. Some providers, including television and cable television content owners, provide streaming and other Over-The-Top (“OTT”) services that deliver video content to televisions, computers and other devices over the Internet. Newer products and services will likely continue to be developed, further increasing the number of competitors that all our services face. We may not be able to successfully anticipate and respond to many of the various competitive factors affecting the industry, including regulatory changes that may affect our competitors and us differently, new technologies, services and applications that may be introduced, changes in consumer preferences, demographic trends, and discount or bundled pricing strategies by competitors.

The incumbent telephone carriers in the markets we serve enjoy certain business advantages, including size, financial resources, a favorable regulatory position, a more diverse product mix, brand recognition and connection to virtually all of our customers and potential customers. The largest cable operators also enjoy certain business advantages, including size, financial resources, ownership of or superior access to desirable programming and other content, a more diverse product mix, brand recognition and first-in-field advantages with a customer base that generates positive cash flow for their operations. Our competitors continue to add features, increase data speeds and adopt aggressive pricing and packaging for services comparable to the services we offer. Their success in selling services that are competitive with ours among our various customer channels could lead to revenue erosion in our business.  We face intense competition in our markets for long-distance, Internet access, video service and other ancillary services that are important to our business and to our growth strategy.  If we do not compete effectively, we could lose customers, revenue and market share.

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We must adapt to rapid technological changes.  If we are unable to take advantage of technological developments, or if we adopt and implement them at a slower rate than our competitors, we may experience a decline in the demand for our services. Our industry operates in a technologically complex environment. New technologies are continually developed and existing products and services undergo constant improvement.  Emerging technologies offer consumers a variety of choices for their communications and broadband needs.  To remain competitive, we will need to adapt to future changes in technology to enhance our existing offerings and to introduce new or improved offerings that anticipate and respond to the varied and continually changing demands of our various customer channels. Our business and results of operations could be adversely affected if we are unable to match the benefits offered by competing technologies on a timely basis and at an acceptable cost, or if we fail to employ technologies desired by our customers before our competitors do so.

In addition, evolving technologies can reduce the costs of entry for others, resulting in greater competition and significant new advantages for competitors. Technological developments could require us to make significant new capital investments in order to remain competitive with other service providers. We expect to continue to incur additional costs as we execute on our technological developments including our fiber network expansion plan. If we do not replace or upgrade our network and its technology on a timely basis, we may not be able to compete effectively and could lose customers. We may also be placed at a cost disadvantage in offering our services. Wireless companies are aggressively developing networks using next-generation data technologies, which are capable of delivering high-speed Internet service via wireless technology to a large geographic footprint. In addition, a growing number of telecommunications companies are building advanced fiber networks to significantly increase broadband speeds. Although we use fiber optics in parts of our networks and are continuing to expand and enhance our fiber network, we continue to rely on coaxial cable and copper transport media to serve customers in certain areas. If we cannot develop new services and products to keep pace with technological advances, or if such services and products are not widely embraced by our customers, our results of operations could be adversely impacted.

Shifts in our product mix may result in a decline in operating profitability. Margins vary among our products and services. Our profitability may be impacted by technological changes, customer demands, regulatory changes, the competitive nature of our business and changes in the product mix of our sales.  These shifts may also result in our long-lived assets becoming impaired or our inventory becoming obsolete.  We review long-lived assets for potential impairment if certain events or changes in circumstances indicate that impairment may be present.  We currently manage potential inventory obsolescence through reserves, but future technology changes may cause inventory obsolescence to exceed current reserves.

Public health threats could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and stock price.  We may face risks associated with public health threats or outbreaks of epidemic, pandemic or communicable diseases, such as the outbreak of COVID-19 and its variants. The severity, magnitude and duration of global or regional pandemics are uncertain and hard to predict. Public health threats that result in any preventive or protective actions implemented by governmental authorities may have a material adverse effect on our operations, customers and suppliers. Such events may cause certain adverse consequences to the economy, including disruptions in the supply chain, labor shortages, rising inflationary pressures and interest rates, and the risk of a recession. Adverse economic and market conditions as a result of pandemics could adversely affect the demand for our products and services and may also impact the ability of our customers to satisfy their obligations to us. In addition, volatility in financial and other capital markets may adversely affect the market price of our common stock and our ability to access capital markets. 

We receive support from various funds established under federal and state laws, and the continued receipt of that support is not assured.  A portion of our revenues come from network access and subsidies.  An order adopted by the FCC in 2011 (the “Transformation Order”) significantly impacted the amount of support revenue we receive from the Universal Service Fund (“USF”), Connect America Fund (“CAF”) and intercarrier compensation (“ICC”).  The Transformation Order reformed core parts of the USF, broadly recast the existing ICC scheme, established the CAF to replace support revenues provided by the USF and redirected support from voice services to broadband services. In 2020, the FCC adopted an order establishing the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”), the next phase of the CAF program. See Part I – Item 1 – “Regulatory Environment” above for statistics of current funding levels. We must comply with numerous FCC and state requirements to continue receiving the RDOF funding. Any failure to comply with the requirements could impact our current funding, which could adversely impact our results of operations and financial condition.

We receive subsidy payments from various federal and state universal service support programs, including high-cost support, Lifeline, which reduces the cost of communications services for low-income consumers, and E-Rate, which

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subsidizes the purchase of communications services by schools and libraries.  The total cost of the various federal universal service programs has increased significantly in recent years, putting pressure on regulators to reform the programs and to limit both eligibility and support.  We cannot predict future changes that may impact the subsidies we receive.  However, a reduction in subsidies support may directly affect our profitability and cash flows.

A disruption in our networks and infrastructure could cause service delays or interruptions, which could cause us to lose customers and incur additional expenses.  Our customers depend on reliable service over our network.  The primary risks to our network infrastructure include physical damage to lines, security breaches, capacity limitations, power surges or outages, software defects and disruptions beyond our control, such as natural disasters and acts of terrorism.  From time to time in the ordinary course of business, we experience short disruptions in our service due to factors such as physical damage, inclement weather and service failures of our third-party service providers.  We could experience more significant disruptions in the future. For example, climate change may increase the intensity and frequency of various natural disasters, as well as contribute to chronic changes in the physical environment (such as changes to ambient temperature and precipitation patterns or sea-level rise) that may impair the operating conditions of our infrastructure or otherwise adversely impact our operations. Disruptions may cause service interruptions or reduced capacity for customers, either of which could cause us to lose customers and incur unexpected expenses.

A cyber-attack may lead to unauthorized access to confidential customer, personnel and business information that could adversely affect our business.  We utilize our information technology infrastructure to manage and store various proprietary information and sensitive or confidential data relating to our operations. We routinely process, store and transmit large amounts of data for our customers, including sensitive and personally identifiable information. We depend on our information technology infrastructure to conduct business operations and provide customer services. We may be subject to data breaches and disruptions of the information technology systems we use for these purposes. Attempts by others to gain unauthorized access to organizations' information technology systems by hackers and other malicious actors such as foreign governments, criminals, hacktivists, terrorists and insider threats are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, and are sometimes successful. These attempts may include covertly introducing malware to companies' computers and networks, impersonating authorized users or "hacking" into systems. Hackers and other malicious actors may be able to penetrate our network security and misappropriate or compromise our confidential, sensitive, personal or proprietary information, or that of third parties, and engage in the unauthorized use or dissemination of such information. They may be able to create system disruptions, or cause shutdowns. Hackers and other malicious actors may be able to develop and deploy viruses, worms, ransomware and other malicious software programs that attack our products or otherwise exploit any security vulnerabilities of our systems. In addition, sophisticated hardware and operating system software and applications that we procure from third parties may contain defects in design or manufacture, including “bugs,” cybersecurity vulnerabilities and other problems that could unexpectedly interfere with the operation or security of our systems.  We seek to prevent, detect and investigate all security incidents that do occur, however we may be unable to prevent or detect a significant attack in the future.  Significant information technology security failures could result in the theft, loss, damage, unauthorized use or publication of our confidential business information, which could harm our competitive position, subject us to additional regulatory scrutiny, expose us to litigation or otherwise adversely affect our business.

To date, interruptions of our information technology infrastructure and third party suppliers have been infrequent and have not had a material impact on our operations. However, because technology is increasingly complex and cyber-attacks are increasingly sophisticated and more frequent, there can be no assurance that such incidents will not have a material adverse effect on us in the future. The consequences of a breach of our security measures or those of a third-party provider, a cyber-related service or operational disruption, or a breach of personal, confidential, proprietary or sensitive data caused by a hacker or other malicious actor could be significant for us, our customers and other affected third parties. For example, the consequences could include damage to infrastructure and property, impairment of business operations, disruptions to customer service, financial costs and harm to our liquidity, costs associated with remediation, loss of revenues, loss of customers, competitive disadvantage, legal expenses associated with litigation, regulatory action, fines or penalties or damage to our brand and reputation.

In addition, the costs to us to eliminate or address the foregoing security challenges and vulnerabilities before or after a cyber-incident could be significant. In addition, our remediation efforts may not be successful and could result in interruptions, delays or cessation of service. We could also lose existing or potential customers for our services in connection with any actual or perceived security vulnerabilities in the services.

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We are subject to laws, rules and regulations relating to the collection, use and security of user data. Our operations are also subject to federal and state laws governing information security. In the event of a data breach or operational disruption caused by an information security incident, such rules may require consumer and government agency notification and may result in regulatory enforcement actions with the potential of monetary forfeitures as well as civil litigation. We have incurred, and will continue to incur, expenses to comply with privacy and security standards and protocols imposed by law, regulation, industry standards and contractual obligations.

Our operations require substantial capital expenditures and our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity may be impacted if funds for capital expenditures are not available when needed.  We require significant capital expenditures to maintain, upgrade and enhance our network facilities and operations.  While we have historically been able to fund capital expenditures from cash generated from operations and borrowings under our revolving credit facility, the other risk factors described in this section could materially reduce cash available from operations or significantly increase our capital expenditure requirements, which may result in our inability to fund the necessary level of capital expenditures to maintain, upgrade or enhance our network.  This could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and liquidity.

If we cannot obtain and maintain necessary rights-of-way for our network, our operations may be interrupted and we could be faced with increased costs.  We are dependent on easements, franchises and licenses from state and local governmental authorities, including highway and transit authorities, as well as from various private parties, such as telephone companies, including long-distance companies, and other utilities, and railroads for access to aerial pole space, underground conduits and other rights-of-way in order to construct and operate our networks.  Some agreements relating to rights-of-way may be short-term or revocable at will, and we cannot be certain that we will continue to have access to existing rights-of-way after the governing agreements terminate or expire.  If any of our right-of-way agreements were terminated or could not be renewed, we may be forced to remove, relocate or abandon our network facilities in the affected areas, which could interrupt our operations, force us to find alternative rights-of-way and incur unexpected capital expenditures.

We may be unable to obtain necessary hardware, software and operational support from third-party vendors.  We depend on third-party vendors to supply us with a significant amount of hardware, software and operational support necessary to provide certain of our services, to maintain, upgrade and enhance our network facilities and operations, and to support our information and billing systems. Some of our third-party vendors are our primary source of supply for certain products and services for which there are few substitutes. Disruptions in the global supply chains, as experienced in recent years, may cause a delay in the development, manufacturing and shipping of products and in some cases an increase in product costs. If any of these vendors should experience financial difficulties, experience supply chain issues, have demand that exceeds their capacity or can no longer meet our specifications or provide products or services we need or at reasonable prices, our ability to provide some services may be hindered, in which case our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.

Video content costs are substantial and continue to increase.  We expect video content costs to continue to be one of our largest operating costs associated with providing video service. Video programming content includes network programming designed to be shown in linear channels, as well as the programming of local over-the-air television stations that we retransmit.  The cable industry has experienced continued increases in the cost of programming, especially the cost of sports programming and local broadcast station retransmission content. Programming costs are generally assessed on a per-subscriber basis, and therefore, are directly related to the number of subscribers to which the programming is provided.  Our relatively small subscriber base limits our ability to negotiate lower per-subscriber programming costs. Larger providers can often qualify for discounts based on the number of their subscribers.  This cost difference can cause us to experience reduced operating margins, while our competitors with a larger subscriber base may not experience similar margin compression.  In addition, escalators in existing content agreements can result in cost increases that exceed general inflation.  While we expect video content costs to continue to increase, we may not be able to pass such cost increases on to our customers, especially as an increasing amount of programming content becomes available via the Internet at little or no cost. Also, some competitors or their affiliates own programming in their own right and we may not be able to secure license rights to that programming. As our programming contracts with content providers expire, there is no assurance that they will be renewed on acceptable terms or that they will be renewed at all, in which case we may not be able to provide such programming as part of our video services packages and our business and results of operations may be adversely affected.

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We have employees who are covered by collective bargaining agreements.  If we are unable to enter into new agreements or renew existing agreements timely, we could experience work stoppages or other labor actions that could materially disrupt our business of providing services to our customers.  As of December 31, 2023, approximately 44% of our employees were covered by collective bargaining agreements.  These employees are hourly workers throughout our service territories and are represented by various unions and locals.  Our existing collective bargaining agreements expire between 2024 through 2026, of which contracts covering 6% of our employees will expire in 2024.

We cannot predict the outcome of the negotiations related to the collective bargaining agreements covering our employees.  If we are unable to reach new agreements or renew existing agreements, employees subject to collective bargaining agreements may engage in strikes, work stoppages or slowdowns, or other labor actions, which could materially disrupt our ability to provide services to our customers.  New labor agreements, or the renewal of existing agreements, may impose significant new costs on us, which could adversely affect our financial condition and result of operations. While we believe our relations with the unions representing these employees are good, any protracted labor disputes or labor disruptions by our employees could negatively impact our business.

Our ability to attract and/or retain certain key management and other personnel in the future could have an adverse effect on our business.  We rely on the talents and efforts of key management personnel, many of whom have been with our company or in our industry for decades. While we maintain long-term and emergency transition plans for key management personnel and believe we could either identify internal candidates or attract outside candidates to fill any vacancy created by the loss of any key management personnel, the loss of one or more of our key management personnel could have a negative impact on our business.

Acquisitions or other strategic initiatives present many risks and we may be unable to realize the anticipated benefits of acquisitions.  From time to time, we make acquisitions and investments or enter into other strategic transactions.  In connection with these types of transactions, we may incur unanticipated expenses; fail to realize anticipated benefits; have difficulty integrating the acquired businesses; disrupt relationships with current and new employees, customers and vendors; incur significant indebtedness or have to delay or not proceed with announced transactions. The occurrence of any of the foregoing events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

We may face significant challenges in combining the operations of an acquired business with ours in a timely and efficient manner. The failure to successfully integrate an acquired business and to successfully manage the challenges presented by the integration process may result in our inability to achieve anticipated benefits of the acquisition, including operational and financial synergies. Even if we are successful in integrating acquired businesses, we cannot guarantee that the integration will result in the complete realization of anticipated financial synergies or that they will be realized within the expected time frames.

Increasing attention to, and evolving expectations for, environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) initiatives could increase our costs, harm our reputation, or otherwise adversely impact our business. Companies across industries are facing increasing scrutiny from a variety of stakeholders related to their ESG practices. Expectations regarding voluntary ESG initiatives and disclosures may result in increased costs (including but not limited to increased costs related to compliance, stakeholder engagement, contracting and insurance), changes in demand for certain offerings, enhanced compliance or disclosure obligations, or other adverse impacts to our business, financial condition, or results of operations.

While we may at times engage in voluntary initiatives (such as voluntary disclosures, certifications, or goals, among others) to improve the ESG profile of our company and/or offerings or to respond to stakeholder demands, such initiatives may be costly and may not have the desired effect. Expectations around companies’ management of ESG matters continues to evolve rapidly, in many instances due to factors that are out of our control. While we commit to certain initiatives or goals, we may not ultimately be able to achieve them due to cost, technological, or other constraints. Moreover, actions or statements that we may take based on based on expectations, assumptions, or third-party information that we currently believe to be reasonable may subsequently be determined to be erroneous or be subject to misinterpretation. Even if this is not the case, our current actions may subsequently be determined to be insufficient by various stakeholders, and we may be subject to investor or regulator engagement on our ESG initiatives and disclosures, even if such initiatives are currently voluntary.

Certain market participants, including major institutional investors and capital providers, use third-party benchmarks and scores to assess companies’ ESG profiles in making investment or voting decisions. Unfavorable ESG ratings could lead

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to increased negative investor sentiment towards us, which could negatively impact our share price as well as our access to and cost of capital. To the extent ESG matters negatively impact our reputation, it may also impede our ability to compete as effectively to attract and retain employees, customers, or business partners, which may adversely impact our operations. In addition, we expect there will likely be increasing levels of regulation, disclosure-related and otherwise, with respect to ESG matters, which will likely lead to increased costs as well as scrutiny that could heighten all of the risks identified in this risk factor. Additionally, many of our customers and suppliers may be subject to similar expectations, which may augment or create additional risks, including risks that may not be known to us.

Risks Relating to Current Economic Conditions

Unfavorable changes in financial markets could adversely affect pension plan investments resulting in material funding requirements to meet our pension obligations.  We expect that we will continue to make future cash contributions to our pension plans, the amount and timing of which will depend on various factors including funding regulations, future investment performance, changes in future discount rates and mortality tables and changes in participant demographics.  Unfavorable fluctuations or adverse changes in any of these factors, most of which are outside our control, could impact the funded status of the plans and increase future funding requirements. Returns generated on plan assets have historically funded a large portion of the benefits paid under these plans. If the financial markets experience a downturn and returns fall below the estimated long-term rate of return, our future funding requirements could increase significantly, which could adversely affect our cash flows from operations.

Weak economic conditions may have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.  Downturns in the economic conditions in the markets and industries we serve, including the impacts of inflation, unemployment rates, economic growth, disruptions in the global supply chain, the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East could adversely affect demand for our products and services and have a negative impact on our results of operations. Economic weakness or uncertainty may make it difficult for us to obtain new customers and may cause our existing customers to reduce or discontinue their services to which they subscribe. This risk may be worsened by the expanded availability of free or lower cost services, such as streaming or OTT services or substitute services, such as wireless phones and public Wi-Fi networks.  In addition, recent inflationary pressures may also have an adverse impact on our cost structure and result in increased costs for materials, labor and other operating expenses. If such impacts are prolonged and substantial, it could have a negative impact on our results of operations and capital expenditures. Weak economic conditions may also impact the ability of our customers and third parties to satisfy their obligations to us.

Risks Relating to Our Common and Preferred Stock

The price of our common stock may be volatile and may fluctuate substantially, which could negatively affect holders of our common stock.  The market price of our common stock may fluctuate widely as a result of various factors including, but not limited to, period-to-period fluctuations in our operating results, the volume of sales of our common stock, the limited number of holders of our common stock and the resulting limited liquidity in our common stock, dilution, developments in the communications industry, the failure of securities analysts to cover our common stock, changes in financial estimates by securities analysts, short interests in our common stock, competitive factors, regulatory developments, labor disruptions, general market conditions and market conditions affecting the stock of communications companies. Communications companies have, in the past, experienced extreme volatility in the trading prices and volumes of their securities, which has often been unrelated to operating performance. High levels of market volatility may have a significant adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.  In addition, in the past, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against companies following periods of volatility in their stock price.  This type of litigation could result in substantial costs and divert management's attention and resources, which could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations, liquidity and/or the market price of our common stock.

Our organizational documents could limit or delay another party’s ability to acquire us and, therefore, could deprive our investors of a possible takeover premium for their shares.  A number of provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws could make it difficult for another company to acquire us.  Among other things, these provisions:

Provide that directors may only be removed for cause and then only upon the affirmative vote of holders of two-thirds or more of the voting power of our outstanding common stock;

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Require the affirmative vote of holders of two-thirds or more of the voting power of our outstanding common stock to amend, alter, change or repeal specified provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws;

Require stockholders to provide us with advance notice if they wish to nominate any candidates for election to our Board of Directors or if they intend to propose any matters for consideration at an annual stockholders meeting; and

Authorize the issuance of so-called “blank check” preferred stock without stockholder approval upon such terms as the Board of Directors may determine.

We also are subject to laws that may have a similar effect.  For example, federal and certain state telecommunications laws and regulations generally prohibit a direct or indirect transfer of control over our business without prior regulatory approval.  Similarly, Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law restricts our ability to engage in a business combination with an “interested stockholder”.  These laws and regulations make it difficult for another company to acquire us, and therefore, could limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock.  In addition, the rights of our common stockholders are subject to, and may be adversely affected by, the rights of holders of any class or series of preferred stock that we may issue in the future.

The rights of our Series A Preferred Stock could negatively impact our cash flows.  The terms of our Series A Preferred Stock provide rights to holders that could negatively impact us.  Holders of our Series A Preferred Stock are entitled to receive cumulative dividends on the liquidation preference at a rate of 9% per annum payable semi-annually, until October 2, 2027 at our election, either in cash or in-kind through an accrual of unpaid dividends, which are automatically added to the liquidation preference; and after October 2, 2027, solely in cash.

In addition, upon a liquidation event, holders of the Series A Preferred Stock will have the right to require the Company to repurchase all or any part of the outstanding Series A Preferred Stock for cash at a price equal to the liquidation preference plus any accrued and unpaid dividends. The existence of senior securities such as the Series A Preferred Stock could have an adverse effect on the value of our common stock.

The Series A Preferred Stock ranks senior to our common stock with respect to dividend distribution payments upon liquidation.  The rights of holders of our Series A Preferred Stock rank senior to the rights of holders of our common stock.  Before dividends, if any, can be paid to holders of our common stock, any dividends, including accrued and unpaid dividends, must first be paid to holders of our Series A Preferred Stock.  In addition, upon a liquidation event, holders of Series A Preferred Stock are entitled to receive full payment for their shares before any payment can be made to holders of our common stock.  The existence of senior securities such as the Series A Preferred Stock could have an adverse effect on the value of our common stock.

Risks Relating to Our Indebtedness and Our Capital Structure

We have a substantial amount of debt outstanding, which could adversely affect our business and restrict our ability to fund working capital and planned capital expenditures.  As of December 31, 2023, we had $2.1 billion of debt outstanding.  Our substantial level of indebtedness could adversely impact our business, including:

We may be required to use a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to make principal and interest payments on our debt, which will reduce funds available for operations, capital expenditures, future business opportunities and strategic initiatives;

We may have limited flexibility to react to changes in our business and our industry;

It may be more difficult for us to satisfy our other obligations;

We may have a limited ability to borrow additional funds or to sell assets to raise funds if needed for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions or other purposes;

We may become more vulnerable to general adverse economic and industry conditions, including changes in interest rates; and

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We may be at a disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less debt.

We cannot guarantee that we will generate sufficient revenues to service our debt and have adequate funds left over to achieve or sustain profitability in our operations, meet our working capital and capital expenditure needs or compete successfully in our markets.

Our credit agreement and the indentures governing our Senior Notes contain covenants that limit management’s discretion in operating our business and could prevent us from capitalizing on opportunities and taking other corporate actions.  Among other things, our credit agreement limits or restricts our ability (and the ability of certain of our subsidiaries), and the separate indenture governing the Senior Notes limits the ability of our subsidiary, Consolidated Communications, Inc., and its restricted subsidiaries to: incur or guarantee additional indebtedness or issue preferred stock; make restricted payments, including paying dividends on, redeeming, repurchasing or retiring our capital stock; make investments and prepay or redeem debt; enter into agreements restricting our subsidiaries’ ability to pay dividends, make loans or transfer assets to us; create liens; sell or otherwise dispose of assets, including capital stock of, or other ownership interests in subsidiaries; engage in transactions with affiliates; engage in sale and leaseback transactions; make capital expenditures; engage in a business other than telecommunications; and consolidate, merge or transfer all or substantially all of the assets of the Company.

In addition, our credit agreement, with respect to the revolving credit facility only, requires us to comply with specified financial ratios, including a financial covenant based on a maximum consolidated first lien leverage ratio.  Our ability to comply with these ratios may be affected by events beyond our control. These restrictions limit our ability to plan for or react to market conditions, meet capital needs or otherwise constrain our activities or business plans. They also may adversely affect our ability to finance our operations, enter into acquisitions or engage in other business activities that would be in our interest.

A breach of any of the covenants contained in our credit agreement, in any future credit agreement, or in the separate indentures governing the Senior Notes, or our inability to comply with the financial ratios could result in an event of default, which would allow the lenders to declare all borrowings outstanding to be due and payable. If the amounts outstanding under our credit facilities were to be accelerated, we cannot assure that our assets would be sufficient to repay in full the money owed.  In such a situation, the lenders could foreclose on the assets and capital stock pledged to them.

We may not be able to refinance our existing debt if necessary, or we may only be able to do so at a higher interest rate.  We may be unable to refinance or renew our credit facilities and our failure to repay all amounts due on the maturity dates would cause a default under the credit agreement. Alternatively, any renewal or refinancing may occur on less favorable terms.  If we refinance our credit facilities on terms that are less favorable to us than the terms of our existing debt, our interest expense may increase significantly, which could impact our results of operations and impair our ability to use our funds for other purposes.

Our variable-rate debt subjects us to interest rate risk, which could impact our cost of borrowing and operating results.  Certain of our debt obligations are at variable rates of interest and expose us to interest rate risk.  Increases in interest rates could negatively impact our results of operations and operating cash flows. We utilize interest rate swap agreements to convert a portion of our variable-rate debt to a fixed-rate basis. However, we do not maintain interest rate hedging agreements for all of our variable-rate debt and our existing hedging agreements may not fully mitigate our interest rate risk, may prove disadvantageous or may create additional risks.  Changes in fair value of cash flow hedges that have been de-designated or determined to be ineffective are recognized in earnings. Significant increases or decreases in the fair value of these cash flow hedges could cause favorable or adverse fluctuations in our results of operations.

Risks Related to the Regulation of Our Business

We are subject to a complex and uncertain regulatory environment, and we face compliance costs and restrictions greater than those of many of our competitors.  Our businesses are subject to regulation by the FCC and other federal, state and local governmental authorities. Rapid changes in technology and market conditions have resulted in changes in how the government regulates telecommunications, video programming and Internet services.  Many businesses that compete with our Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (“ILEC”) and non-ILEC subsidiaries are comparatively less regulated.  Some of our competitors are either not subject to utilities regulation or are subject to significantly fewer regulations.  In contrast to our subsidiaries regulated as cable operators and satellite video providers, competing on-demand

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and OTT providers and motion picture firms have almost no regulation of their video activities. Recently, federal and state authorities have become more active in seeking to address critical issues in each of our product and service markets. The adoption of new laws or regulations, or changes to the existing regulatory framework at the federal, state or local level, could require significant and costly adjustments that could adversely affect our business plans.  New regulations could impose additional costs or capital requirements, require new reporting, impair revenue opportunities, potentially impede our ability to provide services in a manner that would be attractive to our customers and potentially create barriers to enter new markets or to acquire new lines of business. We face continued regulatory uncertainty in the immediate future.  Not only are these governmental entities continuing to move forward on these matters, their actions remain subject to reconsideration, appeal and legislative modification over an extended period of time, and it is unclear how their actions will ultimately impact our business.  We cannot predict future developments or changes to the regulatory environment or the impact such developments or changes may have on us.

Increased regulation of the Internet could increase our cost of doing business.  Current laws and regulations governing access to, and commerce on, the Internet are relatively limited.  In particular, in 2017, the FCC adopted an order restoring its previous classification of mass-market broadband Internet access service as an information service under Title I of the Communications Act and eliminating bright-line federal network neutrality requirements, which has effectively limited the FCC’s authority over Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”).  However, the order retained rules requiring ISPs to disclose pricing and performance information for their services, as well as their network management practices, including any blocking, throttling or paid prioritization of Internet traffic. The order was challenged in court and in 2019, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband Internet access service as an information service and rescind its bright-line network neutrality rules.

Federal, state and local governments may adopt new rules and regulations applicable to, or apply existing laws and regulations to, the Internet. While the 2019 court ruling upheld broadband Internet access service’s information-service classification, it invalidated the FCC’s decision to preempt all state network neutrality requirements. Several states have adopted rules similar to the network neutrality requirements that were eliminated by the FCC and new state legislation may be adopted in the future. Moreover, in October 2023, the FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking to reclassify mass-market broadband Internet access service as telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act, and to reimpose certain bright-line network neutrality rules, among other requirements, on ISPs. The outcome of this proceeding, as well as the prospect of potential congressional action related to network neutrality, cannot be determined at this time, but could lead to increased costs for the Company in connection with our provision of broadband Internet access service, and could affect our ability to compete in the markets we serve.

We are subject to extensive laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment, natural resources and worker health and safety.  Our operations and properties are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment, natural resources and worker health and safety, including laws and regulations governing and creating liability in connection with the management, storage and disposal of hazardous materials, asbestos and petroleum products.  We are also subject to laws and regulations governing air emissions from our fleet vehicles.  As a result, we face several risks, including:

Hazardous materials may have been released at properties that we currently own or formerly owned (perhaps through our predecessors). Under certain environmental laws, we could be held jointly and severally liable, without regard to fault, for the costs of investigating and remediating any actual or threatened contamination at these properties and for contamination associated with disposal by us, or by our predecessors, of hazardous materials at third-party disposal sites;

We could incur substantial costs in the future if we acquire businesses or properties subject to environmental requirements or affected by environmental contamination. In particular, environmental laws regulating wetlands, endangered species and other land use and natural resources may increase the costs associated with future business or expansion or delay, alter or interfere with such plans;

The presence of contamination can adversely affect the value of our properties and make it difficult to sell any affected property or to use it as collateral; and

We could be held responsible for third-party property damage claims, personal injury claims or natural resource damage claims relating to contamination found at any of our current or past properties.

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The cost of complying with environmental requirements could be significant. Similarly, the adoption of new environmental laws or regulations, or changes in existing laws or regulations or their interpretations, could result in significant compliance costs or unanticipated environmental liabilities.

Effects of climate change may impose risk of damage to our infrastructure, our ability to provide services, and may cause changes in federal and state regulation, all of which may result in potential adverse impact to our financial results. Extreme weather events precipitated by long-term climate change have the potential to directly damage network facilities or disrupt our ability to build and maintain portions of our network. Any such disruption could delay network deployment plans, interrupt service for our customers, increase our costs and have a negative effect on our operating results. The potential physical effects of climate change, such as increased frequency and severity of storms, droughts, floods, fires, freezing conditions, sea-level rise, and other climate-related events, could adversely affect our operations, infrastructure, and financial results. Operational impacts resulting from the potential physical effects of climate change, such as damage to our network infrastructure, could result in increased costs and loss of revenue. We could incur significant costs to improve the climate resiliency of our infrastructure and otherwise prepare for, respond to, and mitigate such physical effects of climate change. We are not able to accurately predict the materiality of any potential losses or costs associated with the physical effects of climate change.

Further, customers, consumers, investors and other stakeholders are increasingly focusing on environmental issues, including climate change, water use, deforestation, plastic waste, and other sustainability concerns. Concern over climate change or other ESG matters may result in new or increased legal and regulatory requirements to reduce or mitigate impacts to the environment and reduce the impact of our business on climate change, which could increase our costs for monitoring and compliance. Further, climate change regulations may require us to alter our proposed business plans or increase our operating costs due to increased regulation or environmental considerations, and could adversely affect our business and reputation.

Our business may be impacted by new or changing tax laws or regulations and actions by federal, state, and/or local agencies, or by how judicial authorities apply tax laws.  Our operations are subject to various federal, state and local tax laws and regulations.  In connection with the products and services we sell, we calculate, collect, and remit various federal, state, and local taxes, surcharges and regulatory fees to numerous federal, state and local governmental authorities.  In many cases, the application of tax laws is uncertain and subject to differing interpretations, especially when evaluated against new technologies and telecommunications services.  Tax laws are dynamic and subject to change as new laws are passed and new interpretations of the law are issued or applied. Changes in tax laws, or changes in interpretations of existing laws, could materially affect our financial position, results of operations and cash flows.  

Item 1B.  Unresolved Staff Comments.

None.

Item 1C.  Cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Risk Management and Strategy

We have developed and implemented a cybersecurity risk management program intended to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our critical systems and information. Our cybersecurity risk management program, which is based on recognized industry standards and frameworks, is integrated into our overall enterprise risk management program, and shares common methodologies, reporting channels and governance processes that apply across the enterprise risk management program to other legal, compliance, strategic, operational, and financial risk areas.

We have not identified risks from known cybersecurity threats, including as a result of any prior cybersecurity incidents, that have materially affected or are reasonably likely to materially affect us, including our operations, business strategy, results of operations, or financial condition.

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Cybersecurity Governance

Our Board of Directors (the “Board”) regularly considers cybersecurity risk as part of its risk oversight function and has delegated to the Audit Committee oversight of cybersecurity and other information technology risks. The Audit Committee oversees management’s implementation of our cybersecurity risk management program. The Board receives quarterly reports from management on our cybersecurity risks. In addition, management updates the Board, as necessary, regarding any material cybersecurity incidents.

The Board also receives briefings from management on our cyber risk management program. Board members receive presentations on cybersecurity topics which may pose potential impacts to the Company’s operations from our Chief Technology Officer. Board members also receive external training or attend seminars on cybersecurity topics that impact public companies as part of their continuing education.

Our management team, including our Chief Technology Officer, Senior Director of Information Security and other members of the IT team are responsible for assessing and managing our material risks from cybersecurity threats. The team has primary responsibility for our overall cybersecurity risk management program and supervises both our internal cybersecurity personnel and our retained external cybersecurity consultants. Our Chief Technology Officer joined Consolidated in 2017 and has more than 30 years of communications industry experience. Prior to joining Consolidated, he served as the Chief Technology Officer at FairPoint Communications, Inc. and also held key leadership roles at Comcast and Level 3 Communications.  

Our management team oversees the efforts to prevent, detect, mitigate, and remediate cybersecurity risks and incidents through various means, which may include briefings from internal security personnel; threat intelligence and other information obtained from governmental, public or private sources, including external consultants engaged by us; as well as providing ongoing cybersecurity awareness training for our employees including management.  

Item 2.  Properties.

We own our corporate headquarters, which are currently located at 2116 S. 17th Street, Mattoon, Illinois.  We also own and lease office facilities and related equipment for administrative personnel, central office buildings and operations in many of the states in which we operate.  

In addition to land and structures, our property consists of equipment necessary for the provision of communication services, including central office equipment, customer premises equipment and connections, pole lines, video head-end, remote terminals, aerial and underground cable and wire facilities, vehicles, furniture and fixtures, computers and other equipment.  We also own certain other communications equipment held as inventory for sale or lease.

In addition to plant and equipment that we wholly-own, we utilize poles, towers and cable and conduit systems jointly-owned with other entities and lease space on facilities to other entities.  These arrangements are in accordance with written agreements customary in the industry. We also have appropriate easements, rights-of-way and other arrangements for the accommodation of our pole lines, underground conduits, aerial and underground cables and wires.  

Item 3.  Legal Proceedings.

From time to time we may be involved in litigation that we believe is of the type common to companies in our industry, including regulatory issues. While the outcome of these claims cannot be predicted with certainty, we do not believe that the outcome of any of these legal matters will have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.  See Note 15 to the consolidated financial statements included in this report in Part II – Item 8 – “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” for a discussion of recent developments related to these legal proceedings.

Item 4.  Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not Applicable.

27

PART II

Item 5.  Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

Our common stock is traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (“Nasdaq”) under the symbol “CNSL”.  As of February 27, 2024, there were approximately 3,269 stockholders of record of the Company’s common stock.  

On April 25, 2019, we announced the elimination of the payment of quarterly dividends on our stock beginning in the second quarter of 2019 in order to focus on deleveraging and our fiber network investments. Future dividend payments, if any, are at the discretion of our Board of Directors. Changes in our dividend program will depend on our earnings, capital requirements, financial condition, debt covenant compliance, expected cash needs and other factors considered relevant by our Board of Directors.

Performance Graph

The following graph shows a five-year comparison of cumulative total shareholder return of our common stock (assuming reinvestment of dividends) with the S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq Telecommunications Index.  The comparison of total return on investment (change in year-end stock price plus reinvested dividends) for each of the periods assumes that $100 was invested on December 31, 2018 in each index.  The stock performance shown on the graph below is not necessarily indicative of future price performance.

COMPARISON OF 5 YEAR CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN*

Among Consolidated Communications Holdings, the S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq Telecommunications Index

Graphic

As of December 31,

 

(In dollars)

   

2018

   

2019

   

2020

   

2021

   

2022

   

2023

 

Consolidated Communications Holdings

$

100.00

$

42.09

$

53.05

$

81.15

$

38.84

$

47.19

S&P 500

$

100.00

$

131.49

$

155.68

$

200.37

$

164.08

$

207.21

Nasdaq Telecommunications

$

100.00

$

118.74

$

130.71

$

133.51

$

97.62

$

108.00

Sale of Unregistered Securities

During the year ended December 31, 2023, we did not sell any equity securities of the Company which were not registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.  

Item 6.  Reserved.

28

Item 7.  Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

Reference is made to “Note About Forward-Looking Statements” and Part I – Item 1A – “Risk Factors” which describes important factors that could cause actual results to differ from expectations and non-historical information contained herein. In addition, the following Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (“MD&A”) is intended to help the reader understand the results of operations and financial condition of Consolidated Communications Holdings, Inc. (“Consolidated,” the “Company,” “we,” “our” or “us”). MD&A should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes to the consolidated financial statements (“Notes”) as of and for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2023 included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Throughout MD&A, we refer to certain measures that are not a measure of financial performance in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“US GAAP” or “GAAP”).  We believe the use of these non-GAAP measures on a consolidated basis provides the reader with additional information that is useful in understanding our operating results and trends. These measures should be viewed in addition to, rather than as a substitute for, those measures prepared in accordance with GAAP.  See the Non-GAAP Measures section below for a more detailed discussion on the use and calculation of these measures.

Overview

Consolidated is a broadband and business communications provider offering a wide range of communication solutions to consumer, commercial and carrier customers across a service area in over 20 states.  We operate an advanced fiber network spanning approximately 60,000 fiber route miles across many rural areas and metro communities.  We offer residential high-speed Internet, video, phone and home security services as well as multi-service residential and small business bundles. Our business product suite includes: data and Internet solutions, voice, data center services, security services, managed and IT services, and an expanded suite of cloud services. We provide wholesale solutions to wireless and wireline carriers and other service providers including data, voice, network connections and custom fiber builds and last mile connections.    

 

We generate the majority of our consolidated operating revenues primarily from monthly subscriptions to our broadband, data and transport services (collectively “broadband services”) marketed to residential and business customers.  As consumer demands for bandwidth continue to increase, our focus is on expanding our fiber broadband services and upgrading data speeds in order to offer a highly competitive fiber product. Our investment in more competitive broadband speeds is critical to our long-term success.  Our strategic investment with Searchlight Capital Partners L.P. (“Searchlight”), combined with the refinancing of our capital structure in 2020 provided us with additional capital that has enabled us to accelerate our fiber expansion plans and provided significant benefits to our consumer, commercial and carrier customers. With this strategic investment, we are enhancing our fiber infrastructure and accelerating our investments in high-growth and competitive areas.  By leveraging our existing dense core fiber network and an accelerated build plan, we expect to be able to significantly increase data speeds, expand our multi-Gig coverage and strategically extend our network across our strong existing commercial and carrier footprint to attract more on-net and near-net opportunities. As part of our multi-year fiber expansion plan, we plan to upgrade approximately 1.6 million passings to fiber across select service areas to enable multi-Gig capable services to these homes and small businesses including more than 1 million passings within our northern New England service areas. The ultimate total passings will be dependent upon, amongst other things, our ability to secure Public Private Partnership grant arrangements and other broadband infrastructure funding opportunities.

In 2023, we continued to execute on our multi-year fiber growth plan and transformation from a copper-based telecommunications provider to a fiber broadband provider. During the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, we upgraded approximately 227,500 and 403,000 passings to fiber, respectively, and added approximately 72,300 and 36,700 consumer fiber Gig capable subscribers, respectively. As of December 31, 2023, approximately 47% of our passings were at least 1 Gig capable, as compared to 22% at December 31, 2021. Our fiber build plan includes the upgrade of at least 85,000 homes and small businesses in 2024.

Fidium Fiber, our new Gigabit consumer fiber internet product with an all-new customer experience, launched in November 2021 in select northern New England markets, reinforces our broadband-first strategy. In May 2022, Fidium Fiber was expanded to additional markets in California, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas. In June 2022, we launched symmetrical 2 Gig speeds across the entire Fidium fiber network. Our Fidium plans offer symmetrical speeds from 50 Mbps to 2 Gbps over the latest WiFi 6 technology with no data caps. We expect to continue to expand the

29

availability of Fidium Fiber further into communities within our markets. In February 2023, we launched Fidium@Work and expanded our Fidium Fiber service to small businesses everywhere Fidium internet is available. Fidium@Work is ideal for small businesses that have outgrown residential or traditional internet service, but do not require an enterprise solution.

As we continue to increase broadband speeds, we believe that we will also be able to simultaneously enhance our commercial product offerings to meet the needs of our business customers. By leveraging our advanced fiber network, we can tailor our services for business customers by developing solutions to fit their specific needs.  We offer fiber broadband connectivity and cloud-based services to deliver differentiated solutions targeting customers ranging from small businesses to large enterprises and carriers. We are focused on driving fiber connectivity, achieving data services growth and standardizing our commercial product portfolio, which increases efficiency and enables greater scalability and reliability for businesses.

Operating revenues continue to be impacted by the industry-wide trend of declines in voice services, access lines and related network access revenue.  Many customers are choosing to subscribe to alternative communication services, and competition for these subscribers continues to increase.  Total voice connections decreased 10% as of December 31, 2023 compared to 2022.  We have been able to mitigate some of the access line losses through alternative product offerings, such as our VoIP service. 

Our competitive multi-gig broadband speeds enable us to meet consumer demand for higher bandwidth for streaming programming or on-demand content on any device.  The consumers demand for streaming services, either to augment their current video subscription plan or to entirely replace their linear video subscription may impact our future video subscriber base and, accordingly, reduce our video revenue as well as our video programing costs.  Total video connections decreased 37% as of December 31, 2023 compared to 2022 as a result of our plan to de-emphasize our linear video services and transition customers to streaming and over-the-top video services. We believe the trend in changing consumer viewing habits will continue to impact our business results and complement our strategy of providing consumers with higher broadband speeds to facilitate streaming content including services offered through our streaming partnerships.

  

Our operating revenues are impacted by legislative or regulatory changes at the federal and state levels, which could reduce or eliminate the current subsidies revenue we receive.  A number of proceedings and recent orders relate to universal service reform, inter-carrier compensation (“ICC”) and network access charges. See the “Regulatory Matters” section below for a further discussion of the subsidies we receive.   

Significant Recent Developments

Merger Agreement

On October 15, 2023, we entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger (the “Merger Agreement”) with Condor Holdings LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (“Parent”) affiliated with certain funds managed by affiliates of Searchlight, and Condor Merger Sub Inc., a Delaware corporation and a wholly owned subsidiary of Parent (“Merger Sub”), pursuant to which, subject to the terms and conditions thereof, Merger Sub will merge with and into the Company (the “Merger”) with the Company continuing as the surviving corporation and a wholly owned subsidiary of an affiliate of Searchlight. British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (“BCI”) and certain affiliates of Searchlight have committed to provide equity financing to Parent to fund the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement. Searchlight is currently the beneficial owner of approximately 34% of the Company’s outstanding shares of common stock and is the holder of 100% of the Company’s outstanding Series A perpetual preferred stock. Subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Merger Agreement, upon the consummation of the Merger, each share of the Company’s common stock, par value $0.01 per share (other than shares of the Company’s common stock (i) held directly or indirectly by Parent, Merger Sub or any subsidiary of the Company, (ii) held by the Company as treasury shares or (iii) held by any person who properly exercises appraisal rights under Delaware law) will be converted into the right to receive an amount in cash equal to $4.70 per share, without interest (the “Merger Consideration”), subject to any withholding of taxes required by applicable law. In addition, pursuant to the Merger Agreement, upon the consummation of the Merger, (i) Company restricted share awards (“Company RSAs”) held by non-employee directors or by certain affiliates of Searchlight will vest and be canceled in exchange for the Merger Consideration and (ii) all other Company RSAs will be converted into restricted cash awards based on the Merger Consideration and subject to the same terms and conditions, including time- and performance-based vesting conditions, as the corresponding Company RSA (except that the relative total shareholder return modifier shall be deemed to be achieved at the target level).

30

The Merger Agreement has, unanimously by the directors present, been approved by the board of directors of the Company (the “Board”), acting upon the unanimous recommendation of a special committee consisting of only independent and disinterested directors of the Company (the “Special Committee”). On January 31, 2024, the Company held a virtual special meeting of stockholders (the “Special Meeting”) to consider three proposals with respect to the Merger Agreement. The first proposal, to adopt the Merger Agreement, was approved by (i) holders of a majority of the voting power represented by the issued and outstanding shares of our common stock that were entitled to vote thereon and (ii) holders of a majority of the voting power represented by the issued and outstanding shares of our common stock that were entitled to vote thereon and held by Unaffiliated Stockholders (as defined in the Merger Agreement). The second proposal, to approve by advisory (non-binding) vote the compensation that may be paid or become payable to the named executive officers of the Company in connection with the consummation of the Merger, was approved by the requisite vote of the Company’s stockholders. The third proposal, to approve any adjournment of the Special Meeting, if necessary, to solicit additional proxies if there were insufficient votes in favor of the Merger Agreement proposal, was also approved by the requisite vote of the Company’s stockholders. Because the Merger Agreement proposal was approved by the requisite vote, no adjournment to solicit additional proxies was necessary.

The proposed transaction constitutes a “going-private transaction” under the rules of the SEC and is expected to close by the first quarter of 2025. The closing of the Merger is subject to various conditions, including (i) the expiration or termination of the applicable waiting periods (and any extensions thereof) under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (the “HSR Act”); (ii) the receipt of certain required consents or approvals from (a) the Federal Communications Commission, (b) the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, (c) state public utility commissions and (d) local regulators in connection with the provision of telecommunications and media services; (iii) the absence of any order, injunction or decree restraining, enjoining or otherwise prohibiting or making illegal the consummation of the Merger or the other transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement; and (iv) the accuracy of the representations and warranties contained in the Merger Agreement, subject to customary materiality qualifications, as of the date of the Merger Agreement and the date of closing, and performance in all material respects of the covenants and agreements contained in the Merger Agreement. The transaction is not subject to a financing condition. We are awaiting required regulatory approvals in order to execute the Merger. Following the closing of the transaction, shares of our common stock will no longer be traded or listed on any public securities exchange.

Additional information about the Merger Agreement and the Merger is set forth in the Company’s Definitive Proxy Statement on Schedule 14A filed with the SEC on December 18, 2023, as supplemented.

Cost Savings Initiative

In July 2023, we initiated a business simplification and cost savings initiative plan intended to further align our company as a fiber-first provider, improve operating efficiencies, lower our cost structure and ultimately improve the overall customer experience. This initiative includes a reduction in workforce, consolidation and elimination of certain facilities and review of our product offerings. These cost savings initiatives are expected to result in annualized savings of approximately $30.0 million commencing in the second half of 2023. In 2023, we recognized severance costs of $17.4 million in connection with the plan.

Discontinued Operations - Sale of Investment in Wireless Partnerships

On September 13, 2022, we completed the sale of our five limited wireless partnership interests to Cellco Partnership (“Cellco”) for an aggregate purchase price of $490.0 million. Cellco is the general partner for each of the five wireless partnerships and is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Verizon Communications, Inc. Our wireless partnership investment consisted of ownership in five wireless partnerships: 2.34% of GTE Mobilnet of South Texas Limited Partnership, 20.51% of GTE Mobilnet of Texas RSA #17 Limited Partnership, 3.60% of Pittsburgh SMSA Limited Partnership, 16.67% of Pennsylvania RSA No. 6(I) Limited Partnership and 23.67% of Pennsylvania RSA No. 6(II) Limited Partnership. The proceeds from the sale were used in part to support our fiber expansion plan. The financial results of the limited partnership interests have been reported as discontinued operations in our consolidated financial statements for all prior periods presented. In the statement of cash flows, we have elected to combine cash flows from discontinued operations with cash flows from continuing operations. In connection with the sale of the partnership interests, we recognized a pre-tax gain on sale of $389.9 million during the year ended December 31, 2022. For the years ended

31

December 31, 2022 and 2021, we recognized income of $23.5 million and $41.8 million, respectively, and received cash distributions of $29.2 million and $43.0 million, respectively, from these wireless partnerships.

Divestitures

On July 10, 2023, we entered into a definitive agreement to sell our business located in the Washington market (“the “Washington operations”), for gross cash proceeds of approximately $73.0 million, subject to customary working capital adjustments and other post-closing purchase price adjustments. At December 31, 2023, the assets and liabilities to be sold were classified as assets held for sale in the consolidated balance sheet. During the year ended December 31, 2023, in connection with the expected sale, the carrying value of the net assets to be sold were reduced to their estimated fair value of approximately $67.1 million, which was determined based on the estimated selling price less costs to sell. As a result, we recognized an impairment loss of $77.8 million during the year ended December 31, 2023. The transaction is expected to close before the second half of 2024 and is subject to the receipt of all customary regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other closing conditions.

On March 2, 2022, we entered into a definitive agreement to sell substantially all the assets of our business located in the Kansas City market (the “Kansas City operations”). The Kansas City operations provide data, voice and video services to customers within the Kansas City metropolitan area and surrounding counties and included approximately 17,100 consumer customers and 1,600 commercial customers. The sale closed on November 30, 2022 for gross cash proceeds of $82.1 million, subject to the finalization of certain working capital and other post-closing purchase price adjustments. For the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021, operating revenues for the Kansas City operations were $45.5 million or 3.8% and $51.3 million or 4.0% of total consolidated operating revenues, respectively. In 2022, in connection with the expected sale, the carrying value of the net assets to be sold was reduced to their estimated fair value and we recognized an impairment loss of $131.7 million during the year ended December 31, 2022. During the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, we recognized a loss on the sale of $1.6 million and $16.8 million, respectively, as a result of expected purchase price adjustments and changes in working capital and estimated selling costs. The gain or loss on the sale of the Kansas City Operations is included in loss on disposal of assets in the consolidated statement of operations.

On January 31, 2022, we completed the sale of substantially all of the assets of our non-core, rural ILEC business located in Ohio, Consolidated Communications of Ohio Company (“CCOC” or the “Ohio operations”) for gross cash proceeds of $26.1 million, including customary working capital adjustments. CCOC provides telecommunications and data services to residential and business customers in 11 rural communities in Ohio and surrounding areas and included approximately 3,800 access lines, 3,900 data connections and 1,400 video connections. For the year ended December 31, 2021, operating revenues for the Ohio operations were $8.9 million or 0.7%, of total consolidated operating revenues. In connection with the classification as assets held for sale, we recognized an impairment loss of $5.7 million during the year ended December 31, 2021.  During the year ended December 31, 2022, we recognized an additional loss on the sale of $0.8 million, which is included in selling, general and administrative expense in the consolidated statement of operations.

The asset sales align with our strategic asset review and focus on our core broadband regions. We utilized the proceeds from the asset sales to support our fiber expansion plan.

32

Results of Operations

The following tables reflect our financial results on a consolidated basis and key operating statistics as of and for the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021.

Financial Data

% Change

(In millions, except for percentages)

2023

    

2022

    

2021

    

2023 vs 2022

    

2022 vs 2021

 

Operating Revenues

Consumer:

Broadband (Data and VoIP)

$

290.8

$

272.1

$

269.3

7

%

1

%

Voice services

125.2

144.8

160.7

(14)

(10)

Video services

 

35.0

 

54.2

 

65.1

 

(35)

 

(17)

451.0

471.1

495.1

(4)

(5)

Commercial:

Data services (includes VoIP)

214.7

228.5

228.9

(6)

(0)

Voice services

 

127.9

 

142.3

 

154.6

 

(10)

 

(8)

Other

 

39.9

 

43.1

 

40.0

 

(7)

 

8

382.5

413.9

423.5

(8)

(2)

Carrier:

Data and transport services

127.2

137.4

133.4

(7)

3

Voice services

15.6

14.7

17.2

6

(15)

Other

 

1.2

 

1.7

 

1.6

 

(29)

 

6

144.0

153.8

152.2

(6)

1

Subsidies

27.9

33.4

69.8

(16)

(52)

Network access

90.2

104.7

120.5

(14)

(13)

Other products and services

 

14.5

14.4

21.1

 

1

 

(32)

Total operating revenues

 

1,110.1

 

1,191.3

 

1,282.2

 

(7)

 

(7)

Operating Expenses

Cost of services and products (exclusive of depreciation and amortization)

 

511.9

 

546.7

 

569.6

 

(6)

 

(4)

Selling, general and administrative costs

 

340.2

 

301.6

 

271.1

 

13

 

11

Transaction costs

 

13.8

 

 

 

100

 

Loss on impairment of assets held for sale

 

77.8

 

131.7

 

5.7

 

(41)

 

2,211

Loss on disposal of assets

 

9.5

 

4.2

 

 

126

 

100

Depreciation and amortization

 

315.1

 

300.2

 

300.6

 

5

 

(0)

Total operating expenses

 

1,268.3

 

1,284.4

 

1,147.0

 

(1)

 

12

Income (loss) from operations

 

(158.2)

 

(93.1)

 

135.2

 

(70)

 

(169)

Interest expense, net

 

(152.0)

 

(125.0)

 

(175.2)

 

22

 

(29)

Loss on extinguishment of debt

 

 

 

(17.1)

 

 

100

Change in fair value of contingent payment rights

 

 

 

(86.5)

 

 

100

Other income, net

 

8.5

 

13.4

 

1.3

 

(37)

 

931

Income tax benefit

 

(51.6)

 

(27.0)

 

(3.2)

 

(91)

 

(744)

Loss from continuing operations

 

(250.1)

 

(177.7)

 

(139.1)

 

(41)

 

(28)

Income from discontinued operations, net of tax

 

 

318.3

 

32.4

 

(100)

 

882

Dividends on Series A preferred stock

43.9

40.1

2.7

9

1,385

Net income attributable to noncontrolling interest

 

0.4

 

0.5

 

0.4

 

(20)

 

25

Income (loss) attributable to common shareholders

$

(294.4)

$

100.0

$

(109.8)

 

(394)

 

191

Adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations (1)

$

319.2

$

384.4

$

463.8

(17)

%

(17)

%

Adjusted EBITDA (1)

$

319.2

$

413.6

$

506.9

(23)

%

(18)

%

(1)Adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations and Adjusted EBITDA are non-GAAP measures.  See the “Non-GAAP Measures” section below for additional information and reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP measure. Adjusted EBITDA includes investment distributions from discontinued operations.

33

Key Operating Statistics

% Change

    

    

    

    

2023 vs.

    

2022 vs.

 

2023

2022

2021

2022

2021

Consumer customers

498,082

484,669

516,949

 

3

%

(6)

%

Fiber Gig+ capable

195,195

122,872

86,122

59

43

DSL/Copper

198,024

244,586

298,442

(19)

(18)

Consumer data connections

393,219

367,458

384,564

7

(4)

Consumer voice connections

239,587

276,779

328,849

 

(13)

 

(16)

Video connections

21,900

35,039

63,447

 

(37)

 

(45)

The sale of substantially all of the net assets of our Kansas City operations and Ohio operations in 2022 resulted in a reduction of approximately 3,325 fiber consumer data connections, 14,505 DSL/Copper consumer data connections and 14,800 video connections. Prior period amounts have not been adjusted to reflect the sales.

Operating Revenues

Consumer

Broadband Services

Broadband services include revenues from residential customers for subscriptions to our data and VoIP products. We offer high-speed Internet access at speeds of up to 2 Gbps, depending on the network facilities that are available, the level of service selected and the location. Our fiber expansion plan is expected to provide fiber broadband revenue growth opportunities as we upgrade data speeds and expand our multi-Gig coverage across our network. Our VoIP digital phone service is also available in certain markets as an alternative to the traditional telephone line.  

Broadband services revenues increased $18.7 million during 2023 compared to 2022. The change in broadband services revenue was reduced in part by the sale of substantially all of the assets of our Kansas City and Ohio operations in 2022, which resulted in a decrease of broadband services revenues of $6.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2023 compared to 2022. Broadband services revenue continued to increase primarily as a result of price increases and growth in fiber Internet services as fiber data connections continue to increase and offset the decline in copper data connections. In addition, a greater mix of our subscribers are shifting towards higher broadband speeds and electing to subscribe to our 1 Gig or higher product.

Broadband services revenues increased $2.8 million during 2022 compared to 2021 despite a 4% decrease in broadband connections in 2022 primarily due to an increase in Internet services as a result of price increases and growth in fiber Internet services. We estimate that the sale of substantially all of the assets of our Ohio operations and Kansas City operations in 2022 reduced broadband services revenue for 2022 by approximately $3.1 million.

Voice Services

 

We offer several different basic local phone service packages and long-distance calling plans, including unlimited flat-rate calling plans.  The plans include options for voicemail and other custom calling features such as caller ID, call forwarding and call waiting.  

Voice services revenues decreased $19.6 million during 2023 compared to 2022 primarily due to an 18% decline in access lines during 2023 compared to 2022. Voice services revenues decreased $15.9 million during 2022 compared to 2021 primarily due to a 17% decline in access lines during 2022 compared to 2021. The number of local access lines in service directly affects the recurring revenues we generate from end users and continues to be impacted by the industry-wide decline in access lines.  We expect to continue to experience erosion in voice connections due to competition from alternative technologies, including our own competing VoIP product.

34

Video Services

Depending on geographic market availability, our video services range from limited basic service to advanced digital television, which includes several plans, each with hundreds of local, national and music channels including premium and Pay-Per-View channels as well as video On-Demand service. Certain customers may also subscribe to our advanced video services, which consist of high-definition television, digital video recorders (“DVR”) and/or a whole home DVR. Our video subscribers can also watch their favorite shows, movies and livestreams on any device.  In addition, we offer several in-demand streaming TV services, which provide endless entertainment options.

Video services revenues decreased $19.2 million during 2023 compared to 2022 and decreased $10.9 million during 2022 compared to 2021 primarily due to the continued decline in connections. The sale of our Kansas City and Ohio operations in 2022 accounted for $9.7 million of the decline in 2023 compared to 2022 and $2.3 million of the decline in 2022 compared to 2021. We expect to continue to experience a decline in video connections as we de-emphasize our linear video subscriptions and transition customers to streaming services, which may amplify the demand for higher broadband speeds to facilitate streaming content.

Commercial  

Data Services

We provide a variety of business communication services to business customers of all sizes, including voice and data services over our advanced fiber network. The services we offer include scalable high-speed broadband Internet access and VoIP phone services, which range from basic service plans to virtual hosted systems.  In addition to Internet and VoIP services, we also offer a variety of commercial data connectivity services in select markets including Ethernet services; private line data services; software defined wide area network (“SD-WAN”), a software-based network technology that provides a simplified management and automation of wide area network connections, and multi-protocol label switching. Our networking services include point-to-point and multi-point deployments from 2.5 Mbps to 10 Gbps to accommodate the growth patterns of our business customers. We offer a suite of cloud-based services, which includes a hosted unified communications solution that replaces the customer’s on-site phone systems and data networks, managed network security services and data protection services. Data center and disaster recovery solutions provide a reliable and local colocation option for commercial customers.

Data services revenues decreased $13.8 million during 2023 compared to 2022, of which $15.4 million is due to the sale of our Kansas City operations in late 2022. The remaining change was due to continued growth in dedicated Internet access, which was reduced by declines in Metro Ethernet as a result of customer churn.  In recent years, the growth in data services revenues has been impacted by customer churn from increased competition and price compression as customers are migrating from legacy data connection products to more competitive products, which have a lower average revenue per user.  

Data services revenues decreased $0.4 million during 2022 compared to 2021, of which we estimate that the sale of our Kansas City operations in late 2022 reduced revenue for 2022 by approximately $1.4 million. The remaining change was primarily due to the continued growth in dedicated Internet access, SIP trunking and SD-WAN services, which were reduced in part by declines in Metro Ethernet as a result of customer churn.

Voice Services

 

Voice services include basic local phone and long-distance service packages for business customers.  The plans include options for voicemail, conference calling, linking multiple office locations and other custom calling features such as caller ID, call forwarding, speed dialing and call waiting. Services can be charged at a fixed monthly rate, a measured rate or can be bundled with selected services at a discounted rate.

Voice services revenues decreased $14.4 million during 2023 compared to 2022 primarily due to a 12% decline in access lines in 2023 compared to 2022. Voice services revenues decreased $12.3 million during 2022 compared to 2021 primarily due to a 15% decline in access lines in 2022 compared to 2021. Commercial customers are increasingly choosing alternative technologies and the broad range of features that Internet-based voice services can offer. The sale of our Kansas

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City and Ohio operations in 2022 accounted for $4.9 million of the decrease during 2023 compared to 2022 and $1.2 million of the decrease during 2022 compared to 2021.

Other

Other services include business equipment sales and related hardware and maintenance support, video services and other miscellaneous revenues, including 911 service revenues. We are a full service 911 provider and have installed and currently maintain a turn-key, state of the art statewide next-generation emergency 911 system located in Maine. Next-generation emergency 911 systems are an improvement over traditional 911 and are expected to provide the foundation to handle future communication modes such as texting and video.

Other services revenues decreased $3.2 million during 2023 compared to 2022 primarily due to a decline in pole attachment revenues, business equipment sales and video services. Other services revenues increased $3.1 million during 2022 compared to 2021 primarily due to an increase in business equipment sales and custom construction revenues.    

Carrier

Data and Transport Services

We provide high-speed fiber data transmission services to regional and national interexchange and wireless carriers including Ethernet, cellular backhaul, dark fiber and colocation services. Data and transport services revenues decreased $10.2 million during 2023 compared to 2022, of which $4.1 million was due to the sale of the Kansas City operations in 2022. The remaining decline was due to a decrease in Ethernet services as a result of customer churn. Cellular backhaul and colocation revenue also declined as a result of a reduction in pricing of recent contract renewals with our wireless backhaul partners. In 2024, we expect to recognize further declines in cellular backhaul revenue as a result of new pricing in 2023 and ongoing contract renewals. Data and transport services revenues increased $4.0 million during 2022 compared to 2021 primarily due to an increase in dark fiber revenue as a result of a new IRU agreement entered into in 2022.

Voice Services

We provide basic local phone service packages with customized features for resell by wholesale customers. The plans include options for voicemail, conference calling, linking multiple office locations and other custom calling features.  Voice services revenues increased $0.9 million during 2023 compared to 2022 primarily as a result of rate increases in 2023 for business data services. Voice services revenues decreased $2.5 million during 2022 compared to 2021 as customers migrate to alternative technology solutions.