US LEC, which recently launched an aggressive marketing campaign with billboards and advertising, has passed the 12,000 customer mark. That figure represents a 46 percent increase since June of 2002.

US LEC stock (Nasdaq: CLEC) surged 36 cents, or more than 8 percent, on the news to close Tuesday at $4.39.

The company also reported Tuesday that its growth was driven in part by a surge in data customers, the number of which has nearly doubled over the past year. Some 5,000 US LEC customers now have signed on for at least one data service, US LEC added.

“Data revenues continue to increase as a percentage of revenue and now account for nearly 14 percent of US LEC’s total 2003 net revenue year-to-date,” said Aaron Cowell, president and chief executive officer of US LEC, in a statement.

The regional telecommunications provider posted its second consecutive cash-flow positive quarter. The company will discuss its quarterly earnings in greater detail on Aug. 5 in a conference call.
US LEC disclosed last week plans to expand its services with new offerings in New York City. It will base a sales and operations team as well as a voice and data switching center in the city.

“We’ve more than doubled US LEC’s combined customer base in DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia since this time last year, and we’re building on this success in the Northeast by expanding our presence in New York,” Cowell said in a statement. “In keeping with our ‘customer comes first’ philosophy, we will be able to service our current customers who have locations in New York City, and offer services more economically to the large New York market. Expanding our New York operations will allow us to reach more new businesses and to serve more customers than we can now.”

US LEC: www.uslec.com