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Original Source: FD (FAIR DISCLOSURE) WIRE
UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBER: Okay, I think we'll get started here. CenturyTel, I've been covering longer than any other company in my career on Wall Street. It was always sad to me that we could not get them up our conference because it usually conflicted with their board meeting, but we did change the conference to accommodate them. And we're glad to have them back. So, Stewart Ewing the CFO will be presenting and it's definitely good to have him back. Welcome Stewart.
STEWART EWING, CFO, CENTURYTEL: Thank you. And we appreciate the opportunity to be here. Thank you for changing the schedule for us and accommodating us.
First, if I can go the right way, our safe harbor language and then there are some non-GAAP measures that we will talk about today and there reconcile to a GAAP measure on our website if you care to go take a look.
Most of you are probably familiar with CenturyTel just a few opening comments on who we are. First, we are a leading integrator provider of communications services to rural areas, small and midsize cities in United States, in 21 states. We're the seventh largest ILEC in the country in terms of the number of access lines that serve. We are pursuing a very aggressive strategy from the standpoint of rolling out broadband services, high-speed Internet services, to our customer base, in that over 80% of our access lines have access to our high-speed Internet service. And our penetration rate is such that about 25% of our access lines actually use CenturyTel as their provider of high speed Internet service.
We focus on trying to anticipate our customer's needs and work to try to serve those needs. We believe our one network assets are a differentiator for us in the marketplace. We look at our network as one network, regardless of the type of customers we are serving, whether it's wholesale customer or another carrier, or a retail customer.
The network in the Midwest is approximately 13,000 miles of fiber, about 10,000 miles of [inaudible] lit, in our telephone operations, or ILEC operations, we have another 18,000 miles of fiber, so, about 28,000 miles of lit fiber in our network. And you can see the fiber network that we use as our backbone transport for our Internet business touches states that include about 70% of CenturyTel access lines. The blue shaded areas of our areas where our telephone operations are. The dark blue is basically where we have a high-speed Internet service available. The lighter blue areas are the areas that high-speed Internet service is not yet available.
The circles are the KMC markets that we acquired a couple of years ago, where a competitive local exchange carrier. As you can see some of those circles are on the network that we have, so again that opens up additional points of presence for us to sale capacity to our wholesale customers along the network.
As you can see although we operate in 21 states, approximately 70% of our access lines are in these five states. So, we are fairly well clustered again even though it appears that we--even though we operate in 21 states. Additionally, about 90% over access lines are in our top 10 states. So again, the clustering provides is with advantages that we see from a networking standpoint and a marketing standpoint and just the ability to serve our customers better.
We have focused again on high-speed Internet penetration. We serve about 413,000 customers at the end of the fourth quarter, first quart of this year, rather. The first quarter was a great quarter for us, the best quarter we've every had in terms of high-speed Internet customer additions was about 44,000 additional customers. And you can see this business has grown from about 5,000 customers in the year 2001 when we first started offering high-speed Internet service.
Just a few highlights for the first quarter, again, a record quarter for high-speed Internet additions. We also generated about what to do $157 million of free cash flow in the first quarter. We repurchased about 3.7 million shares or $164 million in the first quarter, and were still poised to complete our $1 billion share repurchase program, that we announced a year ago this past February, by the end of this June. So, by the end of next month will complete that program.
We also issued $750 million in senior notes in March to finance the Madison River acquisition, which we then closed on April, 30. The Madison River acquisition, we believe, is a very good fit for us. It includes 170,000 access lines and access to a 2400 mile fiber network that they have access to mostly under our use. The purchase price is approximately $830 million.
Some key points, basically they're 99% high-speed Internet enabled and they have great penetration of about 30% of their customer base utilizes them as their high-speed Internet provider. So, we think that's one of the better insulators to competition when the cable company comes with a voice product, having the high-speed Internet connection to your customer's home, and they were well-positioned for that. They were also well positioned from a standpoint of the cable competitors that they have, and those positions of those competitors in the market.