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Industry Spotlight: Bluebird Network CEO Michael Morey

View original interview on Telecom Ramblings:

Like many infrastructure operators that were originally founded by coalitions of rural telephone operators, Bluebird Network spent its first decade largely under the radar of the broader markets. But in recent years, the company has become much more visible as it expands its reach. A few years ago, Bluebird even bought an underground data center in Springfield, MO and entered the colocation space. With us today to talk about Bluebird’s infrastructure and its unique data center asset is President and CEO Michael Morey. An industry veteran with roots in fiber stretching back to AT&T in the early 80s, he joined Bluebird in 2012 and has presided over a period of rapid growth at the company.

TR: What are the origins of Bluebird Network? How did it come to be what it is today?

MM: Bluebird Network was founded in 1999 as a company called Missouri Network Alliance, made up of 15 rural telephone companies in Missouri. These companies had been paying AT&T to transport their long-distance traffic down to the main switching centers in Kansas City and St. Louis. When the internet became a thing and they started paying AT&T to transmit their internet data as well, it started getting expensive. So they got together and built a fiber network to transport their data themselves, and named it the Missouri Network Alliance. Later, about 10 rural phone companies in Illinois who were paying AT&T to get to St. Louis and Chicago decided to do the same thing and created the Illinois Network Alliance. Missouri Network Alliance soon realized that other carriers were interested in getting to St. Louis and Missouri, and soon nearly every communications carrier in Missouri started buying service from them. Next, the company decided to sell to anchor institutions like schools, universities, hospitals, and such. When we first started, 100 percent of the revenue was coming from our members, but now it’s less than 5 percent, while the majority now comes from enterprise, government, medical, and other communications companies.

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