Maura Mahoney, FirstLight’s Chief Marketing Officer, and Patrick Caughlin, FirstLight’s Chief Development Officer, join Light Reading’s The Divide podcast to explore how FirstLight, a Northeast and mid-Atlantic US network provider and operator, is working to close the digital divide through its operations in underserved communities.


In this podcast episode titled, “The Divide: How FirstLight is connecting communities with middle-mile fiber,” Maura Mahoney and Patrick Caughlin elaborate on FirstLight’s mission to close the digital divide, a phenomenon in which certain communities lack equitable access to technology, including wireless connectivity. Mahoney stresses the importance of FirstLight’s large network and vast experience as an operator when discussing how the industry must progress in providing accessible infrastructure. In the past, inexperience and disorganization hindered national efforts to close the digital divide in the United States. Now, FirstLight is ready to lead a rejuvenated push with its track record of successes. 

FirstLight, headquartered in Albany, NY, owns and operates over 25,000 fiber route miles stretching from Pennsylvania to Maine, with 125,000 serviceable locations and 13,000 locations lit. This extensive network is strategically built through a series of acquisitions starting in 2012, combined with significant investments in the network infrastructure. FirstLight primarily operates in the middle mile with an access system of onramps and offramps to provide the last mile and reach communities which otherwise lack affordable and reliable broadband.


Closing the digital divide will be a great challenge, Caughlin suggests, which requires the utmost of collaboration both at the local level. FirstLight partners with organizations and locally-based companies to understand their connectivity challenges and uncover unique solutions. Working closely with broadband institutions, FirstLight receives substantial input in regards to where their needs are best served in creating last mile connectivity and ensuring that the communities in greatest need receive support. Moreover, Caughlin believes government support will allow broadband providers to reach underserved communities. As such, FirstLight has its sights set on middle mile grants from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which will bolster FirstLight’s efforts to reach individual homes through its “fiber highway” system by providing access points for last mile connectivity.

With its impressive size and industry experience, FirstLight is working to close the digital divide in the Northeast through combining its strategic infrastructure with local outreach to bring its rapid and reliable connectivity to underserved communities.

To listen to the full podcast, visit Light Reading.

To learn more about FirstLight, please visit