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Local Tech Wire

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – , a provider of broadband services primarily in rural areas, is planning to expand its network with $25 million in new funding.

The Goldman Sachs Group, Arkansas-based Circumference Group and its own chairman made the investment through a preferred stock offering.

Circumference Group includes a number of former Alltel Wireless executives.

Other backers of Conterra include Duke Energy and GE Capital.

Conterra already serves some 1,000 customers across 17 states.

In September 2007, Conterra raised $41 million in capital. Duke Energy and GE Capital first invested in Conterra in 2006.

“The addition of this substantial equity capital strengthens our balance sheet and will allow us to continue to aggressively rollout our hybrid, fiber/microwave, video, data and voice transport networks in virtually any location on a nationwide scale,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Leeolou in a statement.

“In addition to their investment, we believe that Goldman Sachs’ and Circumference Group’s insights and corporate development experience in the telecom industry will also add value to our company,” he added.

Goldman Sachs joins Duke and GE Capital as the largest institutional investors in Conterra.

The company also has available a $40 million credit facility.

”We believe the U.S. broadband market is poised for strong growth over the next several years and that Conterra is well positioned, with the right management team, target markets and service offerings to participate in this growth,” said Peter Perrone, the managing director of Goldman Sachs. “Providing high‐capacity mid‐mile and last‐mile transport connections in parts of the country that have traditionally lacked adequate broadband infrastructure is an attractive business opportunity.”

Perrone and Christopher Smith, a former executive vice president for network services at Alltel Wireless, also join the Conterra board.

Richard Bates, who works with Duke as vice president of mergers and acquisitions, also joins the Conterra board.