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DSL.net Clears Hurdle in Acquisition Bid

DSL.net , has cleared a legal hurdle in its effort to finalize yet another acquisition.

The New Haven, Conn., broadband access provider said its $14 million bid ($9 million cash plus a $5 million note) for Network Access Solutions (NAS) has been approved by a U.S. bankruptcy court judge. The offer was submitted in late October.

If closing conditions are met, DSL.net expects to complete the transaction by mid-January.

"This acquisition will benefit the customers of both companies and position DSL.net as a much stronger broadband provider both in terms of our network footprint and our customer base," said DSL.net chairman and CEO David F. Struwas.

Herndon, Va.-based NAS has everything DSL.net looks for in an acquisition: a strong customer base (13,000 business subscribers); a busy geographic market (Virginia to Massachusetts); good technical facilities (300 central offices ) and a balance sheet written in red ink (NAS filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June).

Struwas said NAS customers currently served by the NAS network assets to be acquired by DSL.net should experience a seamless transition since no new installations or equipment changes are required.

DSL.net, whose offerings for residential and small business customers include digital subscriber line (DSL), T1, and virtual private network (VPNs), has declared itself an "industry consolidator."

In February, it acquired Broadslate Networks, of Charlottesville, Va., netting customers in Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Then in August, DSL.net gained nearly 1,100 business and residential customers from Aplus.net.

A company spokesman said the DSL.net can make buys because it made difficult decisions to cut staff and unprofitable COs last year. That, along with the infusion of $15 million in recent financing, gave the company a war chest.

DSL.net's push comes at a time of jockeying in the DSL market. Faced with competition among themselves as well as cable and rival satellite providers, some DSL providers are closing shop or selling.

For example, Hughes Electronics recently shut down its DirecTV Broadband unit after failing to sign enough customers to turn a profit. SBC Yahoo!, BellSouth and Verizon were among the beneficiaries of that move, as DirecTV Broadband steered customers their way.