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Table of Contents

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934.

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934.

For the transition period from to

Commission file number 000-51829

COGENT COMMUNICATIONS HOLDINGS, INC.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

Delaware
(State or Other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)

46-5706863
(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

2450 N Street N.W.
Washington, D.C.
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

20037
(Zip Code)

(202) 295-4200

Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class

    

Trading Symbol

Name of exchange on which registered:

Common Stock, par value $0.001 per share

CCOI

NASDAQ Global Select Market

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes  No 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes  No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes  No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes  No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes  No 

The number of shares outstanding of the registrant’s common stock, par value $0.001 per share, as of January 31, 2022 was 47,928,016.

The aggregate market value of the Common Stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing price of $76.89 per share on June 30, 2021 as reported by the NASDAQ Global Select Market was approximately $3.3 billion.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement on Schedule 14A for the registrant’s 2022 annual shareholders meeting are incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K.

Table of Contents

COGENT COMMUNICATIONS HOLDINGS, INC.

ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K

FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2021

TABLE OF CONTENTS

    

Page

Part I

Item 1

Business

4

Item 1A

Risk Factors

12

Item 1B

Unresolved Staff Comments

23

Item 2

Properties

23

Item 3

Legal Proceedings

23

Item 4

Mine Safety Disclosures

23

Part II

Item 5

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

24

Item 7

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

25

Item 7A

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

34

Item 8

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

35

Item 9

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

62

Item 9A

Controls and Procedures

62

Item 9B

Other Information

65

Item 9C

Disclosures Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

65

Part III

Item 10

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

65

Item 11

Executive Compensation

65

Item 12

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

65

Item 13

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions and Director Independence

65

Item 14

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

65

Part IV

Item 15

Exhibit and Financial Statement Schedules

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Item 16

Form 10-K Summary

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Signatures

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SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K of Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc. (the “Company,” “Cogent,” “we,” “our” or “us”) may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). Forward-looking statements are not statements of historical facts, but rather reflect our current expectations concerning future results and events. You can identify these forward-looking statements by our use of words such as “anticipates,” “believes,” “continues,” “expects,” “intends,” “likely,” “may,” “opportunity,” “plans,” “potential,” “project,” “will,” and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements, whether in the negative or the affirmative. We cannot guarantee that we actually will achieve these plans, intentions or expectations. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties including those discussed in Item 1A “Risk Factors” and other factors, some of which are beyond our control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those forecasts or anticipated in such forward-looking statements.

You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which reflect our view only as of the date of this report. We undertake no obligation to update these statements or publicly release the result of any revisions to these statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this report or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

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PART I

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

We are a facilities-based provider of low-cost, high-speed Internet access, private network services, and data center colocation space. Our network is specifically designed and optimized to transmit packet switched data. We deliver our services primarily to small and medium-sized businesses, communications service providers and other bandwidth-intensive organizations in 50 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and Africa. We are a Delaware corporation, and we are headquartered in Washington, DC.

We offer on-net Internet access services exclusively through our own facilities, which run from our network to our customers’ premises. We offer our on-net services to customers located in buildings that are physically connected to our network. As a result, we are not dependent on local telephone companies or cable TV companies to serve our customers for our on-net Internet access and private network service. Our on-net service consists of high-speed Internet access and private network services offered at speeds ranging from 100 megabits per second (“Mbps”) to 400 gigabits per second (“Gbps”).

We provide our on-net Internet access and private network services to our corporate and net-centric customers. Our corporate customers are located in multi-tenant office buildings and typically include law firms, financial services firms, advertising and marketing firms , as well as health care providers, educational institutions and other professional services businesses. Our net-centric customers include bandwidth-intensive users that leverage our network to either deliver content to end users or to provide access to residential or commercial internet users. Content delivery customers include over the top (“OTT”) media service providers, content delivery networks, web hosting companies, and commercial content and application software providers. Our net-centric customers include access networks comprised of other Internet service providers (“ISPs”), telephone companies, mobile phone operators and cable television companies that collectively provide internet access to a substantial number of broadband subscribers and mobile phone subscribers across the world. These net-centric customers generally receive our services in carrier neutral colocation facilities and in our data centers. We operate data centers throughout North America and Europe that allow our customers to collocate their equipment and access our network.

In addition to providing our on-net services, we provide Internet access and private network services to customers that are not located in buildings directly connected to our network. We provide these off-net services primarily to corporate customers using other carriers’ circuits to provide the “last mile” portion of the link from the customers’ premises to our network.

Competitive Advantages

We believe we address many of the data communications needs of small and medium-sized businesses, communications service providers and other bandwidth-intensive organizations by offering them high-quality, high-speed Internet access and private network services at attractive prices. We believe that our organization has the following competitive advantages:

Low Cost of Operation: We believe that the wireline telecom industry is undergoing, and will continue to face, significant price deflation for its applications and services. This price deflation is a result of a variety of factors including increased competition, enhanced substitutability of certain products and services and the continued impact of Moore’s Law, which has driven down the cost of technology, particularly for fiber optic Wavelength Division Multiplexing (“WDM”) equipment and optically interfaced routers. Faced with the backdrop of continued price deflation in our industry, we have made a series of discreet choices around our network design, operating strategy and product offering that are consistent with our objective of becoming the low cost operator in our industry. Since we initiated operations, this strategy has resulted in a rapid decline in our cost to transmit bits, which has increased our margins and decreased our capital intensity as measured by our capital expenditures per total revenues. Over the last five fiscal years, our cost of goods sold per bit delivered for our customers has declined at a compounded annual rate of 23.3.%. Important components of our low cost operating strategy include:

One Network Protocol. Upon our founding, we selected to operate our network solely using Ethernet protocol. We made this selection in order to take advantage of the significantly greater installed base and lower cost of Ethernet network equipment versus other protocols, the substantially lower costs associated with operating and maintaining one network protocol and the continued benefits of the rapid price performance ratio improvements of Ethernet-related equipment. Our single network design allows us to avoid many of the costs that our competitors who operate circuit-switched, TDM and hybrid fiber coaxial networks incur related to provisioning, monitoring and maintaining multiple transport protocols. Selecting one operating protocol has also had positive effects in terms of our operating overhead and the simplicity of our organization. We believe the vast majority of our competition currently operates their networks with multiple protocols and we believe that attempts to upgrade their networks to one protocol would be operationally challenging and costly.

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Wide Spread Access to Fiber on a Cost Effective, Long-Term Basis. We have acquired a large portfolio of dark fiber leases from around the world sourced from the excess inventory of existing networks. The choice to lease rather than build reduces our capital intensity and the operating costs of our intercity and metro networks. The nature of this portfolio and the individual leases provides us long-term access to dark fiber at attractive rates and the opportunity in many cases to extend these leases for multiple terms. On average, a modest number of our dark fiber leases come up for renewal each year. We have relationships with 295 dark fiber vendors across the globe enabling us to lease dark fiber on a long-term, cost-effective basis to virtually any geographic route or facility we require.
Narrow and Focused Product Set. Since our founding, we have strategically focused on delivering a very narrow product set to our customers. The vast majority of our revenue is driven or related to our high-capacity, bi-directional, symmetric internet access services which can be accessed on-net in large multi-tenant office buildings and carrier neutral data centers or off-net through other carriers’ “last mile” connections to customer facilities. There are significant cost advantages as a result of this narrow product set. We believe that the relative size of our salesforce training, support and overhead is lower than comparable telecom providers which tend to offer a broader, “one-stop shop” product set to their client base.
Scalable Network Equipment and Hub Configurations. Due to our single network protocol and narrow product set, our transmission and network operations rely mainly on two sets of equipment for operation. In order to further scale our operating leverage, we have systematically reused older equipment in less dense portions of our network. Due to interoperability between the generations of products, we are able to transfer older equipment from our core, high-traffic areas to newer, less congested routes. The result of this dynamic grooming process is that we are able to utilize our equipment for materially longer time frames than the expected life of this equipment thereby reducing our capital investment in our network. We design and build all of our network hubs to the same standards and configurations. This replication strategy provides us scale benefits in equipment purchases, training, and maintenance.

Greater Control and Superior Delivery. Our on-net service does not rely on circuits that must be provisioned by a third-party carrier. In our on-net multi-tenant office buildings (“MTOBs”) we provide our customers the entire network, including the “last mile” and the in-building wiring connecting to our customer’s suite. In our carrier neutral data centers (“CNDCs”) we are collocated with our customers. As a result, only a cross-connection within the data center is required to provide our services to our customers. The structure of our on-net service provides us more control over our service, quality and pricing. It also allows us to provision services more quickly and efficiently than provisioning services on a third-party carrier network. The vast majority of our on-net services can be installed in less than two weeks which is materially faster than the installation times for some of our incumbent competitors.

High-Quality, Reliable Service. We are able to offer high-quality Internet service due to our network design and composition. We believe that we deliver a high level of technical performance because our network is optimized for packet switched traffic. Its design increases the speed and throughput of our network and reduces the number of data packets dropped during transmission compared to traditional circuit-switched networks. We believe that our network is more reliable and carries traffic at lower cost than networks built as overlays to traditional circuit-switched, or TDM networks.

Large Addressable Market. We have systematically evaluated and chosen our network extensions to buildings, data centers and markets based upon a rigorous set of criteria to evaluate the economic opportunity of network locations. Additional factors relevant to our pursuit of new buildings include the willingness of building owners to grant us access rights, the availability of optical fiber networks to serve those buildings, the costs to connect buildings to our network and equipment availability. We have also begun to evaluate the sustainability of new locations by evaluating the LEED Green Rating of Buildings, the potential to source renewable energy at potential locations and the potential impact of climate change on a location including access to water and the risk of flooding. Our network is connected to 3,035 total buildings located in 216 metropolitan markets. These buildings include 1,817 large MTOBs (totaling 986.9 million square feet of office space) in major North American cities where we offer our services to a diverse set of high-quality corporate customers within close physical proximity of each other. These buildings also include 1,359 CNDCs located in 1,164 buildings in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and Africa where our net-centric customers directly interconnect with our network. We also operate 54 of our own data centers across the United States and in Europe which comprise over 600,000 square feet of floor space and are directly connected to our network. We believe that these network points of presence strategically position our network to attract high levels of Internet traffic and maximize our revenue opportunities and profitability.

Balanced, High-Traffic Network. Since its inception, our network has grown significantly in terms of its geographic reach, customer connections, and traffic. We currently serve 7,569 access networks as well as numerous large and small content providers and 45,423 corporate customer connections. As a result of these growing bases of customers who distribute (content providers) and receive (access networks) content on our network, the majority of all the traffic on our network remains “on-net’ by both originating and terminating on our network. This control of traffic is an important differentiator as it increases our service reliability and speed of traffic delivery. The increasing share of traffic delivered from content providers to access networks also enhances our margins as we are compensated by both the originator and terminating customers. The breadth of our network, extensive size of our customer base,

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and the volume of our network traffic enables us to be one of a handful of Tier 1 networks that are interconnected on a settlement-free basis. This Tier 1 interconnection status broadens our geographic delivery capability and materially reduces our network costs.

Proven and Experienced Management Team. Our senior management team is composed of seasoned executives with extensive expertise in the telecommunications industry as well as knowledge of the markets in which we operate. The members of our senior management team have an average of over 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and many have been working together at the Company for several years. Several members of the senior management team have been working together at the Company since 2000. Our senior management team has designed and built our network and, during our formative years, led the integration of network assets we acquired through 13 significant acquisitions and managed the expansion and growth of our business.

Our Strategy

We intend to become the leading provider of high-quality, high-speed Internet access and private network services and to continue to improve our profitability and cash flow. The principal elements of our strategy include:

Grow our Corporate Customer Base. Our on-net corporate customers are typically small to medium-sized businesses connected to our network through multi-tenant office buildings or connected to our network through one of our carrier neutral data centers. We generally sell two types of services to our corporate customers: dedicated internet access and private network services. We typically sell dedicated internet access at the same price per connection as our competitors, but our customers benefit from our significantly faster speeds and rapid installation times. These customers are increasingly integrating off-site data centers and cloud services into their IT infrastructure in order to take advantage of the safety, security and redundancy that is offered by locating company processing power, storage and software at a data center. An important part of this new infrastructure is a high-speed, dedicated internet connection from the corporate premises to the data center and the Internet and from one corporate premises to another corporate premises. We believe that the importance of data centers will increasingly lead tenants to reconfigure their communications infrastructure to include dedicated internet access across their locations.

Increase our Share of the Net-Centric Market. We are currently one of the leading providers of high-speed internet access to a variety of content providers and access networks across the world. We intend to further load our high-capacity network as a result of the growing demand for high-speed internet access generated by these types of bandwidth-intensive applications such as over-the-top (“OTT”) media services, online gaming, video, Internet of Things (“IoT”), voice over IP (“VOIP”), remote data storage, and other services. We expect that we will continue to grow our shares of these segments by offering our customers a series of attractive features including:

Geographic breadth – We have the broadest carrier neutral data center footprint in the industry and currently offer network services in 50 countries – as net-centric customers seek a more international audience this footprint is a significant advantage;
High capacity and reliability – We offer 100 Mbps to 400 Gbps ports in all of the carrier neutral data centers and 400Gbps in selected locations on our network, which differentiates the capacity choices we provide our net-centric clients;
Balanced customer base – Our leading share of content providers and access networks increases the amount of traffic that originates and terminates on our network thereby reducing latency and enhancing reliability;
Large and dedicated salesforce – Our team of 207 net-centric sales professionals is one of the largest salesforces in this industry segment and enables us to better serve this customer segment while also identifying new sales opportunities and gaining new business and customers; and
Competitive pricing – We aggressively price and offer discounts for our services to customers in order to attract new customers and drive volume.

Develop a Worldwide Peering Platform. In late 2020 we introduced a new product, Global Peer Connect (“GPC”), targeted at the growing demand for certain net-centric customers to dynamically peer traffic anywhere on our global platform. Our GPC product provides access to our Global Peer Exchange (“GPE”) which is a worldwide connectivity platform for the exchange of peering traffic destined for the Internet. Similar product offerings in the marketplace offer a materially smaller geographic footprint configuration and require a higher fixed cost for customers.

Pursue On-Net Customer Growth. Our high-capacity network provides us with the ability to add a significant number of customers to our network with minimal direct incremental costs. We intend to increase usage of our network and operational infrastructure by adding customers in our existing on-net buildings, as well as developing additional markets and connecting more multi-tenant office buildings and carrier neutral data centers to our network. We emphasize our on-net services because they generate greater profit margins and we have more control over service levels, quality, pricing and our on-net services are provisioned in considerably less time than our off-net services. Our fiber network connects directly to our on-net customers’ premises and we pay no local access (“last mile”) charges to other carriers to provide our on-net services.

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Continue to Improve our Sales Efforts and Productivity. A critical factor in our success has been our investment and focus on our sales and marketing efforts. We seek to maintain a consistent level of sales productivity as measured by the number of connections sold per salesperson per month, taking into account adjustments to the changing mix of products sold and installed. In order to gain market share in our targeted businesses, we expect to continue our sales efforts including introducing strategies and tools to optimize and improve our sales productivity.

Expand our Off-Net Corporate Internet Access Business. We have agreements with national carriers providing us last mile network access to over 4.0 million commercial buildings across North America that are lit by fiber optic cable and that are not currently served by our network. We believe these agreements broaden our addressable market for corporate dedicated internet access and enhances our competitive position through the ability to provide enterprise-wide connectivity for corporate customers. In order to take advantage of this large set of commercial buildings we have developed an automated process to enable our salesforce to identify opportunities in the off-net market for dedicated internet access and to quickly offer pricing proposals to potential customers. We continue to negotiate reduced pricing under our numerous carrier agreements that enable us to reduce our cost of off-net services which enhances our competitive position in the marketplace.

Our Network

Our network is comprised of in-building riser facilities, metropolitan optical networks, metropolitan traffic aggregation points and inter-city transport facilities. We believe that we deliver a high level of technical performance because our network is optimized for packet switched traffic. We believe that our network is more reliable and carries packet switched traffic at lower cost than networks built as overlays to traditional circuit-switched telephone networks.

Our network is comprised of 3,035 buildings which are on net and we serve 216 metropolitan markets in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and Africa. Important strategic components of our Network include:

1,817 multi-tenant office buildings strategically located in commercial business districts;
1,359 carrier neutral data centers located in 1,164 buildings offering our customers the largest portfolio of CNDCs of any carrier;
54 Cogent Data Centers;
1,033 intra-city networks, or rings, consisting of 39,559 fiber miles and 16,338 fiber route miles;
an inter-city network of 60,676 fiber route miles; and
multiple high-capacity transoceanic circuits that connect the North American, European, Asian, South American, Australian and African portions of our network.

We have created our network by leasing on a long-term basis optical fiber from carriers with large amounts of unused fiber and directly connecting Internet routers to our existing optical fiber national backbone. We have expanded our network through key acquisitions of financially distressed companies or their assets at a significant discount to their original cost. Due to our network design and acquisition strategy, we believe we are positioned to grow our revenue and increase our profitability with limited incremental capital expenditures.

Inter-city Networks.

Our inter-city network consists of optical fiber, including transoceanic capacity circuits for undersea portions, connecting major cities in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and Africa. Our network was built by acquiring from various owners of fiber optic networks the right to use typically two strands of optical fiber out of the multiple fibers owned by the cable operator. We install the optical and electronic equipment necessary to amplify, regenerate, and route the optical signals along these networks. We have the right to use the optical fiber under long-term agreements. We pay these providers our annual pro rata fees for the operation and maintenance of the optical fiber and we provide our own equipment maintenance.

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Intra-city Networks.

In each metropolitan area in which we provide our high-speed on-net Internet access services, our backbone network is connected to one or more routers that are connected to one or more of our metropolitan optical networks. We created our intra-city networks by obtaining the right to use optical fiber from carriers with optical fiber networks in those cities. These metropolitan networks consist of optical fiber that runs from the central router in a market into routers located in our on-net buildings. Our metropolitan fiber runs in a ring architecture, which provides redundancy so that if the fiber is cut, data can still be transmitted to the central router by directing traffic in the opposite direction around the ring. The router in the building provides the connection to each of our on-net customers.

Within the cities where we offer our off-net Internet access services, we lease circuits from telecommunications carriers, primarily local telephone companies and cable TV companies, to provide the “last mile” connection to our customer’s premises. Typically, these circuits are aggregated at various locations in those cities onto higher-capacity leased circuits that ultimately connect the local aggregation router to our network.

Multi-Tenant Office Buildings (“MTOBs”). We have network access to a portfolio of 1,817 MTOBs which provide us access to a highly attractive base of bandwidth intensive tenants. In MTOBs where we provide service to multiple tenants, we connect our routers to a cable typically containing 12 to 288 optical fiber strands that run from our equipment that is generally located in the basement of the building through the building riser to the customer location. Our service is initiated by connecting a fiber optic cable from our customer’s local area network in their suite to the infrastructure in the building riser giving our customer dedicated and secure access to our network using an Ethernet connection. We believe that Ethernet is the lowest cost network connection technology and is almost universally used for the local area networks that businesses operate.

Carrier Neutral Data Centers (“CNDCs”). Our network is collocated in and can provide connectivity to customers in 1,359 CNDCs located in 1,164 buildings across our footprint. CNDCs are an integral component of the Internet Infrastructure where Content Providers, Application Service Providers, Carriers and Corporates locate their server and service infrastructure. CNDCs offer highly reliable, secure, cost effective and convenient space for these operators to access important services including connectivity, power, rack space and security all on a 24 hour basis in order to support their Internet activities. We believe we are connected to more CNDCs than any other IP transit provider enabling us to offer greater coverage, more network configuration choices and increased reliability for our net-centric customers.

Cogent Data Centers. We operate 54 data centers across the United States and in Europe. These facilities comprise over 600,000 square feet of floor space and are directly connected to our network. Each location is equipped with secure access, uninterruptable power supplies (UPS), and backup generators. Our customers typically purchase bandwidth, rack space, and power within these facilities.

Internetworking. The Internet is an aggregation of interconnected networks. Larger Internet service providers, or ISP’s, exchange traffic and interconnect their networks by means of direct private connections referred to as private peering. We interconnect with the networks of our customers, which represents the majority of our interconnections and network traffic, through the sale of our transit services. We currently interconnect with 7,569 networks who pay to exchange traffic with us as customers. We supplement our customer network interconnections with settlement-free, peering to our non-customer ISP’s. We have settlement-free private peering interconnections between our network and 24 other major ISP’s who are not our customers.

Tier 1 ISP Status. We directly connect with 7,569 total networks. As a result of the size and breadth of our customer base and the extensive footprint and scale of our network we are a Tier 1 ISP. We currently exchange traffic with 24 other Tier 1 ISPs on a settlement free basis. The remaining networks are customers whom we charge for Internet access. We believe our standing as a Tier 1 ISP provides us with a reputation for size, breadth and reliability. These relationships also reduce our cost of operating the network versus non-Tier 1 ISP Peer Networks who must compensate other networks in order to deliver a significant portion of their traffic. Peering agreements between ISPs enable them to exchange traffic.Without settlement-free peering agreements, each ISP backbone would have to buy Internet access from every other ISP backbone in order for its customer’s traffic to reach and be received from customers of other ISP backbones. We are considered a Tier 1 ISP with a large customer base and, as a result, we have settlement-free peering arrangements with other providers with which we wish to peer. We do not purchase transit services or paid peering to reach any portion of the Internet. This allows us to exchange traffic with those ISPs without payment by either party. In such arrangements, each party exchanging traffic bears its own cost of delivering traffic to the point at which it is handed off to the other party. We do not treat our settlement-free peering arrangements as generating revenue or expense related to the traffic exchanged. We do not sell or purchase paid peering on our transit network.

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Network Management and Customer Care. Our primary network operations centers are located in Washington, D.C. and Madrid, Spain. These facilities provide continuous operational support for our network. Our network operations centers are designed to immediately respond to any problems in our network. Our customer care call centers are located in Washington D.C., Herndon Virginia, Madrid Spain, Paris France, and Frankfurt Germany. To ensure the quick replacement of faulty equipment in the intra-city and long-haul networks, we have deployed field engineers across North America and Europe. In addition, we have maintenance contracts with third-party vendors that specialize in maintaining optical and routed networks.

Our Customers

We offer our high-speed Internet access and IP connectivity services to two sets of customers: corporates customers, which primarily include small and medium-sized businesses located in North America, and net-centric customers, which include, content providers, applications service providers and access networks, comprised of ISPs, cable operators, mobile operators and phone companies located in North America, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia and Africa.

Our corporate customers primarily purchase direct internet access from us on-net in multi-tenant office buildings and carrier neutral data centers or off-net through other carriers’ “last mile” connections to those customer facilities in metropolitan markets in North America. This service enables these customers to access the Internet with a high-speed, bi-directional, symmetric circuit with a very high degree of reliability and 100% access to that contractual capacity at all times. Depending upon the geographic breadth of our customers’ footprint and their communications requirements, we also sell these corporate customers private network services. Private network services provide connectivity on a point to point or point to multi-point basis. This service allows customers to connect geographically dispersed local area networks in a seamless manner. We primarily offer these corporate customers speeds ranging from 100 Mbps per second to 1 Gbps per second and in some cases up to 10 Gbps per second. The continued growth in demand for increased bandwidth has led to a rapid shift towards higher capacity circuits.

We have agreements with multiple national and regional carriers providing us “last mile” network access to over 4 million buildings across North America that are not currently served by our network. We believe these agreements broaden our addressable market for corporate dedicated internet access and VPN services and enable us to better leverage the skills and capacity of our direct salesforce. As our sales of off-net services has increased, the pricing in our carrier agreements has commensurately decreased in light of our increased volume.

Our net-centric customers purchase IP connectivity and other services in our 1,359 carrier neutral data centers as well as our 54 data centers for a total of 1,413 data centers. We support these services in 216 metropolitan markets in 50 countries across the world. These bandwidth intensive organizations typically purchase circuits ranging from 10 Gbps up to 400 Gbps, designed to provide them high-speed, bi-directional, symmetric circuits with a high degree of reliability and 100% access to the contractual capacity at all times. In addition to contractual capacity, certain net-centric customers also purchase metered service that enables customers to pay for actual volume of bits delivered on a per bit per second basis. We also offer a burst product that allows net-centric customers to utilize capacity when they exceed their contractual capacity. The per bit charge for this burst capacity typically exceeds the rate for contractual services. Overall, we believe that, on a per megabit basis, our service offering is one of the lowest priced in the marketplace. We also offer colocation services in our data centers. This service offers Internet access combined with rack space and power in our facilities, allowing the customer to locate a server or other equipment at that location and connect to our Internet access service.

We offer lower prices for longer term and volume commitments. We emphasize the sale of our on-net services over our off-net services, as on-net services generate higher gross margins, and we believe we can offer faster installation and greater reliability with our on-net offerings.

Our People – Human Capital Management

We strive to become a leading employer in our industry by creating a workplace where employees have the tools and resources they need to hone their talents, advance in their careers and be rewarded for their hard work. We also seek to create a diverse workplace that is respectful of all employees, as we believe this is critical to fostering an employee culture that can deliver the best service in our industry to our customers. Our human capital objectives and initiatives are overseen by the Compensation Committee of our Board of Directors.

Workforce.

As of December 31, 2021, we had 1,001 employees located in 16 different countries in a variety of different roles. Approximately 81.0% of our employees are located in the United States and Canada, 18.0% are located in Europe and 1.0% are located in Asia. As of December 31, 2021, 49% of our employees were quota-bearing sales representatives, 14% were in sales management or sales support roles and 37% were in operational or administrative functions. Unions represent 29 of our employees in France. We believe that we have a satisfactory relationship with our employees.

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Diversity and Inclusion. We strive to maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce everywhere we operate. We recruit the best people for the job without regard to gender, race, ethnicity or other protected traits, and it is our policy to comply fully with all domestic, foreign and local laws relating to discrimination in the workplace. At the direction of our Board of Directors, we mandated training for all of our employees on topics of diversity and inclusion. All employees were required to complete online training in unconscious bias, and managers were further required to complete additional training in inclusion. We intend to continually reinforce our commitment to global inclusion and diversity.

Employee Retention. We compete in an industry that is highly competitive for talent. Attracting, developing and retaining skilled people in sales, technical and other positions is crucial to executing our strategy and our ability to compete effectively. While we monitor overall employee retention, we focus in particular on sales representative retention, as our new sales and revenue growth are driven almost entirely by the sales generated by our direct sales force. As a complement to our sales representative retention metric, we also closely track the pace of hiring new sales representatives.

Our sales and marketing organization comprises 63% of our employees and our sales representatives comprise 49% of our employees. For the year ending December 31, 2021, we averaged a 7.0% monthly churn rate within our sales representatives. This churn was caused primarily by failures to meet sales performance goals as well as departures precipitated, we believe, by our decision to return to a full-time, in office work environment and a requirement to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the fall of 2021. During 2021, we hired 371 new sales representatives and ended the year with 490 sales representatives, a net decrease of 79 sales representatives from our total sales representatives at the beginning of 2021. Our ability to recruit and retain all of our employees depends on a number of factors, including professional development, compensation and benefits, and employee engagement.

Professional Development. We recognize the importance of retaining our sales personnel, and we continually strive to improve the performance of our sales personnel to reduce turnover. To that end, we have invested heavily in professional development as a means for improving performance.

As part of our commitment to professional development, we established a sales training and enablement department that provides both online and in-person training. Our 13 regional learning managers and management development trainers are located around the world and are available for intensive, in-person group training as well as individual training with sales representatives who may need extra assistance. In 2021, our average ratio of sales representatives with less than 12 months of tenure to regional learning managers was 19 to 1.

Our training group includes two additional trainers dedicated exclusively to training sales management, one technical trainer and one on-line curriculum trainer. Our trainers also conduct training at our annual sales meeting, during which our entire sales force gathers to learn new skills and reinforce existing skills.

All sales personnel receive four weeks of live, inter-active training during their first month, which focuses on developing both general and Cogent-specific sales skills. New sales personnel are also encouraged to, and rewarded for, completing a self-paced, online curriculum led by their manager during their first six months. Both recent and tenured sales personnel have access to online, on-demand training modules and the opportunity to obtain certification in specialized services. Our CEO addresses each new hire class in an interactive training session.

Compensation and Benefits. We are committed to rewarding, supporting, and developing our employees. To that end, we offer a comprehensive compensation program that includes market-competitive pay, stock options or restricted stock grants to all employees, healthcare benefits, a retirement savings plan, and paid time off and family leave.

Employee Engagement. To foster and reinforce a company culture where employee concerns are heard, our Chief Executive Officer conducts biweekly town hall meetings to respond to employee questions, which may be submitted anonymously. On alternate weeks, we conduct online town hall chats during which a rotating member of the executive team is available to answer questions from our employees. We believe these open and unfiltered channels of communication lead to honest feedback from our employees to our management team.

Health and Safety. The health and safety of our employees is of utmost important to us, and we take all necessary precautions to safeguard our employees. While nearly all of our employees work solely in office environments, for our field personnel, we provide safety gear as appropriate given employee job duties.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we invested heavily to help ensure the health of our employees. Beginning in March 2020, we closed all of our offices worldwide, requiring our entire workforce to work remotely whenever possible. We procured additional computer equipment to permit all employees to work remotely. While our offices have largely remained closed, we believe that it is important to our company culture and employee productivity to return to an in-office environment when it is safe to do so. A cross-functional team within Cogent has established safety procedures to transition employees for a return to office, including training and additional safety and sanitation supplies.

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In the summer of 2021, we began the process of transitioning back to an in-office environment. As part of this process, we mandated that all employees in the United States and Canada, except those with legal exemptions, be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus no later than October 2021. In September 2021, all fully-vaccinated employees returned to our offices in the United States and Canada on a full-time basis. All employees in the United States and Canada, regardless of vaccination status, returned to our offices in October 2021. Similar to our efforts in North America, we also undertook efforts to return our employees in Europe and Asia to their offices, subject to local laws and regulations. In November 2021, a majority of our employees outside of North America returned to the office full-time.

The spread of the Omicron variant around the world in December 2021 caused us to further modify our in-office environment. First, we mandated that all U.S. employees receive a COVID-19 booster vaccine no later than six weeks after first becoming eligible for such vaccine. Second, we mandated that all US employees provide proof of vaccination to us. Third, for offices around the world that had not been closed by government order, we shifted much of our workforce to a fully remote status at the end of 2021 in order to reduce the density of our offices. Sales representatives with less than 12 months tenure, sales representative on performance improvement plans and their managers are currently still working in our offices on a full-time basis in the US, as we believe that the training and coaching required by new sales representatives is significantly more effective when provided in an in-office environment.

Sales and Marketing

Direct Sales. We employ a direct sales and marketing approach. As of December 31, 2021, our sales force included 633 full-time employees. Our quota bearing sales force includes 490 employees with 283 employees focused primarily on the corporate market and 207 employees focused primarily on the net-centric market. As of December 31, 2020, our sales force included 712 full-time employees including 569 quota bearing sales force employees with 333 employees focused primarily on the corporate market and 236 employees focused primarily on the net-centric market. Our sales personnel work through direct contact with potential customers in, or intending to locate in, our on-net buildings. Through agreements with building owners, we are able to initiate and maintain personal contact with our customers by staging various promotional and social events in our multi-tenant office buildings and carrier neutral data centers. Sales personnel are compensated with a base salary plus quota-based commissions and incentives. We use a customer relationship management system to efficiently track sales activity levels and sales productivity.

Indirect Sales. We also have an indirect sales program. Our indirect sales program includes several master agents with whom we have a direct relationship. Through our agreements with our master agents we are able to sell through thousands of sub agents. All agents have access to selling to potential corporate customers and may sell all of our products. We have an indirect channel team who manages these indirect relationships. The indirect channel team is compensated with a base salary plus quota-based commissions and incentives. We use our customer relationship management system to efficiently track indirect sales activity levels and the sales productivity of our agents under our indirect sales program.

Marketing. Because of our historical focus on a direct sales force that utilizes direct contact, we have not spent funds on television, radio or print advertising. We use a limited amount of web-based advertising. Our marketing efforts are designed to drive awareness of our products and services, to identify qualified leads through various direct marketing campaigns and to provide our sales force with product brochures, collateral materials, in building marketing events and relevant sales tools to improve the overall effectiveness of our sales organization. In addition, we conduct building events and public relations efforts focused on cultivating industry analyst and media relationships with the goal of securing media coverage and public recognition of our Internet access and private network services.

Competition

We face competition from incumbent telephone and cable companies, and facilities-based network operators, many of whom are much larger than us, have significantly greater financial resources, sales and marketing capabilities, better-established brand names and large, existing installed customer bases in the markets in which we compete. We also face competition from new entrants to the communications services market. Many of these companies offer products and services that are similar to our products and services.

Unlike some of our competitors, we generally do not have title to most of the dark fiber that makes up our network. Our interests in that dark fiber are in the form of long-term leases under indefeasible rights of use, or IRUs, with providers, some of which also compete with us. We rely on the owner of the fiber to maintain the fiber. We are also dependent on third-party providers, some of which compete with us, to provide intercity and intracity fiber as well as the lateral fiber connections required to add buildings to our network and to provide the local loop facilities for the provision of connections to our off-net customers.

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We believe that competition is based on many factors, including price, transmission speed, ease of access and use, length of time to provision service, breadth of service availability, reliability of service, customer support, billing simplicity and brand recognition. Because our fiber optic networks have been recently installed compared to those of the incumbent carriers, our state-of-the-art technology may provide us with cost, capacity, and service quality advantages over some existing incumbent carrier networks; however, our network may not support some of the services supported by these legacy networks, such as circuit-switched voice, ATM, MPLS, frame relay, wireless and shared hybrid fiber coax networks. While the Internet access speeds offered by traditional ISPs serving multi-tenant office buildings using DSL or cable modems typically do not match our on-net offerings in terms of throughput or quality, these slower services are usually priced lower than our offerings and thus provide competitive pressure on pricing, particularly for more price-sensitive customers. These and other downward pricing pressures particularly in carrier neutral data centers have diminished, and may further diminish, the competitive advantages that we have enjoyed as the result of the pricing of our services. Increasingly, traditional ISPs are upgrading their services using optical fiber and cable technology so that they can match our transmission speed and quality.

Regulation

Our services are subject to the regulatory authority of various agencies in the jurisdictions in which we operate. As a provider of only Internet access and private networks to businesses, regulation is generally not significant. This benefits us in that we have flexibility in offering our services and ease of entry into new markets. However, this level of regulation generally extends to our competitors, some of whom are incumbent telephone and cable companies with whom we need to interconnect and from whom we acquire circuits for our off-net services. The extent of regulation can change. For example, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) in 2017 rescinded regulations applicable to mass market Internet access providers. In all jurisdictions regulations continue to evolve. We also enter into new markets with their own regulations. The regulations with which we need to comply include obtaining the proper licenses to provide our services, data privacy, interception of communications by law enforcement, blocking of websites, and other regulations. We believe that we comply with all regulations in the jurisdictions in which we operate.

The laws related to Internet telecommunications are unsettled and there may be new legislation and court decisions that may affect our services and expose us to burdensome requirements and liabilities.

Available Information

We maintain an Internet website at www.cogentco.com. We make available free of charge through our Internet website our annual report on Form 10-K, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, our current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. The reports are made available through a link to the SEC’s Internet website at www.sec.gov. You can find these reports and request a copy of our Code of Conduct on our website at www.cogentco.com under the “About Cogent” tab at the “Investor Relations” link.

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

Market Risks

The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and may continue to have, an adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We offer our services in 50 countries, most of which were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and financial results will continue to depend on numerous evolving factors that we are not able to accurately predict and which will vary by market. Such future uncertain and unpredictable developments include the ultimate duration and scope of the pandemic, the rise and spread of new COVID-19 variants, the availability and efficacy of vaccines and therapeutic treatments and the willingness of the public to accept such vaccines and treatments, governmental actions that have been taken, or may be taken in the future, in response to the pandemic, and global economic conditions during and after the pandemic.

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Approximately 60.8% of our revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021 was from our corporate customers. Corporate customers are located in multi-tenant office buildings, almost exclusively in the United States and Canada. Authorities in many of these markets implemented numerous measures in response to the pandemic, such as travel bans and restrictions, quarantines, curfews, shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns and closures, and also implemented multi-step polices with the goal of re-opening these markets. These measures have impacted, and continue to impact, us and our employees, customers, suppliers and other third parties with whom we do business. The geographic areas in which we operate are in varying stages of restrictions or re-opening. Many jurisdictions have re-opened, while other jurisdictions began re-opening only to return to restrictions in the face of increases in new COVID-19 cases. Considerable uncertainty exists regarding how current and future health and safety measures implemented in response to the pandemic will impact our business, including whether such measures will result in further changes in demand for our services, impair our ability to access buildings to install our services or maintain our network or impact our supply chain. The continuing impact of existing or new mandates, restrictions, laws or regulations could have a material adverse impact on our operations and the operations of our customers or others with whom we do business.

In addition, a significant number of our corporate customers have continued remote work policies instituted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, slowed the pace of opening new offices and closed offices due to global economic conditions. We believe the rapid spread of the Delta and Omicron variants during 2021 further exacerbated the unwillingness of corporate customers to end their remote work policies. In addition, the prevalence of hybrid or fully remote work environments during the pandemic has caused some companies to transition to such environments on a permanent basis, and we do not know what impact this may have on demand for commercial office space and for our services. As a result, through much of 2021, we saw corporate customers take a cautious approach to adding new services and upgrading existing services as well as reduced demand for connecting smaller satellite offices. Since the beginning of the pandemic we have experienced a deteriorating real estate market in the buildings we serve. Vacancy rates for many of our multi-tenant office buildings have risen as a result of many tenants terminating leases and exiting buildings and as a result of lower new leasing activity. The impact of this greater level of vacancy rates was more pronounced in Northern cities and in the California market and less impactful in our Southern markets

Where permitted, we will require our employees to return to the office on a full-time basis. We have taken measures to protect our workforce and minimize their exposure to COVID-19, such as requiring our entire workforce to get vaccinated and wear masks in the office, establishing safety procedures in the event an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and severely curtailing all business travel. In addition to the associated costs incurred, these measures may be insufficient in protecting our employees. If a significant percentage of our workforce is unable to work due to the impact of COVID-19, our operations will be negatively impacted. In December 2021, with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, a number of our offices were required to close by local order and we voluntarily shifted a majority of our workforce to fully remote status. We intend to return to full-time, in-office status when permitted and when we deem it to be safe. As we consider this return, the impact of COVID-19, our response to the pandemic, and compliance with governmental measures imposed in response to COVID-19 has caused, and will continue to cause us to incur additional costs and any inability to comply with such measures may subject us to restrictions on our business activities, fines, and other penalties, any of which may adversely affect our business.

In addition, the shift of our workforce to working remotely has amplified certain risks to our business, including increased demand on our information technology resources and systems, increased phishing and other cybersecurity attacks as cybercriminals try to exploit the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and an increase in the number of points of potential attack, such as laptops and mobile devices (both of which are now being used in increased numbers), to be secured. Any failure to effectively manage these risks, including to timely identify and appropriately respond to any cyberattacks, may adversely affect our business.

We may find it difficult to retain existing employees or to hire new employees because we have required all employees in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters and to return to the office on a full-time basis.

In August 2021, we notified our employees in the United States that they would be required to return to the office on a full-time basis beginning in September 2021 and that they would be required to attest that they were fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus unless they received a medical or religious exemption. Fully vaccinated employees in the United States began returning to our offices on a full-time basis in early September 2021. Employees had until October 11, 2021 to provide their vaccine self-attestation.

In October 2021, we opened most of our non-US offices for employees to return on a voluntary basis and in November 2021, wherever permitted by local law, we required our employees outside of the United States to return to full-time, in-office work. Where permitted by, and subject to, local laws, we will require employees outside of the United States to be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

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The spread of the Omicron variant around the world in December 2021 caused us to further modify our office environment. First, we mandated that all U.S. employees receive a COVID-19 booster vaccine no later than six weeks after first becoming eligible for such vaccine. Second, we mandated that all U.S. employees provide proof of vaccination to us. Third, for offices around the world that had not been closed by government order, we shifted much of our workforce to fully remote status on a temporary basis at the end of 2021 in order to reduce the density of our offices. Sales representatives with less than 12 months tenure, sales representative on performance improvement plans and their managers are currently still working in our offices on a full-time basis, as we believe that the training and coaching required by new sales representatives is significantly more effective when provided in an in-office environment.

Our employees have largely complied with our vaccine mandate in the United States and Canada. However, we experienced an increase in employee departures, particularly within our sales department in the third and fourth quarters of 2021. We believe that this rise in departures was attributable in part to the unwillingness of some employees to be vaccinated and/or to return to a full-time, in-office environment. If we continue to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations and require employees to return to our offices on a full-time basis, we may find it difficult to retain existing employees or hire new employees. If this occurs, this may impact our revenue growth and profitability.

We are experiencing delays in the delivery of networking equipment and other services from certain of our vendors.

We have seen a slowdown in the delivery of network equipment and delays in the projected delivery time of network equipment orders. In addition, vendors who supply us with dark fiber or lit circuits are being impacted by the spread of COVID-19 in their workforce, and this may slow the delivery of services from these vendors to us. While we believe that we can adequately manage the operation, maintenance, upgrading and growth of our network, a worsening or prolonged slowdown of the delivery of network equipment, dark fiber and lit circuits may impact our ability to expand and augment our network and service offerings. If this occurs, this may impact our revenue growth and profitability.

Our growth and financial health are subject to a number of economic risks.

A downturn in the world economy, especially the economies of North America and Europe would negatively impact our growth. Our net-centric business would be particularly impacted by a decline in the development of new applications and businesses that make use of the Internet. Our corporate business would be particularly impacted by an increase in vacancy rates in the multi-tenant office buildings that we serve. Our total revenue growth is predicated on growth in the use of the Internet that makes up for the declining prices of Internet service. An economic downturn could impact the Internet business more significantly than other businesses that are less dependent on new applications and growth in the use of those applications and an increase in office vacancy rates because of the retrenchment by consumers and businesses that typically occurs in an economic downturn.

Our historical reductions in our prices are expected to continue in an inflationary economy.

Many of the regions in which we operate are experiencing an increase in inflation rates. Due to the nature of our product offerings and the industry in which we operate, which is deflationary, we may be unable to raise our prices. We expect that our historical pricing patterns will continue for the foreseeable future.

Events beyond our control may impact our ability to provide our services to our customers or increase the costs or reduce the profitability of providing our services

Catastrophic events, such as major natural disasters, extreme weather, fire, flooding or similar events as well as the continued threat of terrorist activity and other acts of war or hostility have had, and may continue to have, an adverse effect on our headquarters, other offices, our network, infrastructure or equipment or our customers and prospective customers, which could adversely affect our business. These events may also have an adverse impact on business, financial and general economic conditions around the world. We have certain locations through which a large amount of our Internet traffic passes. Examples are facilities in which we exchange traffic with other carriers, the facilities through which our transoceanic traffic passes, and certain of our network hub sites. We are particularly vulnerable to acts of terrorism because our largest customer concentration is located in New York, our headquarters is located in Washington, D.C., and we have significant operations in Paris, Madrid and London, cities that have historically been targets for terrorist attacks and vulnerable to pandemics.

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If these or any other of our key facilities were destroyed or seriously damaged, a significant amount of our network traffic could be disrupted. Because of the large volume of traffic passing through these facilities our ability (and the ability of carriers with whom we exchange traffic) to quickly restore service would be challenged. There could be parts of our network or the networks of other carriers that could not be quickly restored or that would experience substantially reduced service for a significant time. If such a disruption occurs, our reputation could be negatively impacted which may cause us to lose customers and adversely affect our ability to attract new customers, resulting in an adverse effect on our business and operating results.

Business Risks

We need to retain existing customers and continue to add new customers in order to become consistently profitable and cash flow positive.

In order to be consistently profitable and consistently cash flow positive, we need to both retain existing customers and continue to add a large number of new customers. The precise number of additional customers required is dependent on a number of factors, including the turnover of existing customers, the pricing of our product offerings and the revenue mix among our customers. We may not succeed in adding customers if our sales and marketing efforts are unsuccessful. In addition, many of our targeted customers are businesses that are already purchasing Internet access services from one or more providers, often under a contractual commitment. It has been our experience that such targeted customers are often reluctant to switch providers due to costs and effort associated with switching providers. Further, as some of our customers grow larger they may decide to build their own Internet backbone networks or enter into direct connection agreements with telephone and cable companies that provide Internet service to consumers. A migration of a few very large Internet users to their own networks, or to special networks that may be offered by major telephone and cable providers of last mile broadband connections to consumers, or the loss or reduced purchases from several significant customers could impair our growth, cash flow and profitability.

We have customers who depend on the U.S. government’s E-rate program for funding. There can be no assurance that the E-rate program will continue or that other governmental programs that fund governments and organizations that are or might become customers will continue. A failure of such programs to continue could result in a loss of customers and impair our growth, cash flow and profitability.

A substantial and long-term shift to remote work may impact our ability to add new customers and to retain existing customers.

Through much of 2021, we saw corporate customers continue their remote work policies and take a cautious approach to new services and upgrades, as well as a reduced demand for connecting smaller satellite offices. We also witnessed a deteriorating real estate market in and around the buildings we service, with rising vacancy levels and falling lease initiations or renewals resulting in fewer sales opportunities for our salesforce. As a result, we experienced a slowdown in new sales to our corporate customers which negatively impacted our corporate revenue growth. If, after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant number of our corporate customers or potential customers decide to retain remote work policies, we may experience increased customer turnover, fewer upgrades of existing customer configurations and fewer new tenant opportunities. These trends may negatively impact our revenue growth, cash flows and profitability.

Lower vacancy rates as a result of diminished lease terminations and increased leasing and subleasing activity will be a key factor in driving renewed growth in our corporate business.

During the Pandemic we saw increasing vacancy rates in many of our buildings due to higher lease terminations and lower leasing activity. This reduction in tenancy levels was particularly challenging in our Northern and Californian markets. As a result, our level of activity in our corporate business has been adversely affected. In order to see a growing level of corporate activity we believe there will need to be an improvement in the tenancy levels of our buildings through a reduction in tenant exits and increased leasing activity.

Our business and operations are growing rapidly and we may not be able to efficiently manage our growth.

We have grown our company rapidly through network expansion and by obtaining new customers through our sales efforts. Our expansion places significant strains on our management, operational and financial infrastructure. Our ability to manage our growth will be particularly dependent upon our ability to:

expand, develop and retain an effective sales force and qualified personnel;
maintain the quality of our operations and our service offerings;
maintain and enhance our system of internal controls to ensure timely and accurate compliance with our financial and regulatory reporting requirements; and

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expand our accounting and operational information systems in order to support our growth.

If we fail to implement these measures successfully, our ability to manage our growth will be impaired.

Demand from certain employees to work remotely may reduce the attractiveness of our business as an employer versus some competitors who are allowing employees to work remotely.

In the fall of 2021 we began to implement an in-office work policy designed to return the vast majority of our employees to an in-office work environment. A small minority of our workforce declined to return to full time in-office employment and left our employment. We are experiencing modest competitive challenges versus some competitors who are offering some employees a hybrid work option. Increasing demands to work in a hybrid work style may reduce our ability to attract and retain employees, in particular attracting and retaining salespeople.

Competitive Risks

Our connections to the Internet require us to establish and maintain relationships with other providers, which we may not be able to maintain.

The Internet is composed of various network providers who operate their own networks that interconnect at public and private interconnection points. Our network is one such network. In order to obtain Internet connectivity for our network, we must establish and maintain relationships with other ISPs and certain of our larger customers. These providers may be customers (who connect their network to ours by buying Internet access from us) or may be other large ISPs to whom we connect on a settlement-free peering basis as described below. Both customers and settlement-free peers may be competitors of ours.

By entering into what are known as settlement-free peering arrangements, providers agree to exchange traffic between their respective networks without charging each other. Our ability to avoid the higher costs of acquiring paid dedicated network capacity (transit or paid peering) and to maintain high network performance is dependent upon our ability to establish and maintain settlement-free peering relationships and to increase the capacity or to add additional locations of the interconnections provided by these relationships. The terms and conditions of our settlement-free peering relationships may also be subject to adverse changes, which we may not be able to control. If we are not able to maintain or increase our settlement-free peering relationships in all of our markets on favorable terms or to upgrade the capacity of our existing settlement-free peering relationships, we may not be able to provide our customers with high performance, affordable or reliable services, which could cause us to lose existing and potential customers, damage our reputation and have a material adverse effect on our business. Additionally, certain of our current customers may seek to become settlement-free peers with us.

We cannot assure you that we will be able to continue to establish and maintain relationships with other ISPs, favorably resolve disputes with such providers, or increase the capacity of our interconnections with such providers.

The sector in which we operate is highly competitive, and we may not be able to compete effectively.

We face significant competition from incumbent carriers, Internet service providers and facilities-based network operators. Relative to us, many of these providers have significantly greater financial resources, more well established brand names, larger customer bases, and more diverse strategic plans and service offerings. A number of these providers also have large bases of consumers, which makes their networks particularly attractive to content providers as they can provide a direct connection to their customers.

Intense competition from these traditional and new communications companies has led to declining prices and margins for many communications services, and we expect this trend to continue as competition intensifies in the future. Decreasing prices for high-speed Internet services have somewhat diminished the competitive advantage that we have enjoyed as a result of our service pricing.

Our business is premised on the idea that customers want simple Internet access and private networks rather than a combination of such services with other services such as voice services and complex managed services. Our competitors offer such services. Should the market come to favor such services our ability to acquire and keep customers would be impaired. Our competitors may also upgrade their existing services or introduce new technologies or services, such as satellite-based Internet or 5G services that could make our services less attractive to potential customers.

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Our business could suffer because telephone companies and cable companies may provide better delivery of certain Internet content, including content originating on their own networks, than content on the public Internet.

Broadband connections provided by cable TV, telephone, and fixed and mobile companies have become the predominant means by which consumers connect to the Internet. The providers of these broadband connections may treat Internet content or other broadband content delivered from different sources differently. The possibility of this has been characterized as an issue of “net neutrality.” As many of our customers operate websites and services that deliver content to consumers our ability to sell our services would be negatively impacted if Internet content delivered by us was less easily received by consumers than Internet content delivered by others. The FCC had promulgated rules that would have banned practices such as blocking and throttling of Internet traffic, but those rules were rescinded by the FCC in December 2017. Some US states have either issued or are considering their own net neutrality rules. Also, the European Union and other countries in which we operate, have issued similar net neutrality rules. We also do not know the extent to which the providers of broadband Internet access to consumers may favor certain content or providers in ways that may disadvantage us.

Operational Risks

Our network may be the target of potential cyber-attacks and other security breaches that could have significant negative consequences.

Our business depends on our ability to limit and mitigate interruptions to or degradation of the security of our network. We are considered a critical infrastructure provider and therefore may be more likely to be the target of cyber-attacks. Our network, systems, applications, and routers may be vulnerable to unauthorized access, computer viruses, cyber-attacks, distributed denial of service (DDOS), and other security breaches. We experience such cyber-attacks and other security incidents of varying degrees from time to time, though none which individually or in the aggregate has led to costs or consequences which have materially impacted our operations or business. An attack on or security breach of our network could result in theft of trade secrets, intellectual property, or other company confidential information, the interruption, degradation, or cessation of services, an inability to meet our service level commitments or our financial reporting obligations, and potentially compromise customer data stored on or transmitted over our network. We have experienced cyber-attacks of increasing sophistication which suggest an increase in cyber-attacks that may be state-sponsored or conducted by other well-financed organizations. Moreover, as cyber warfare becomes a tool in asymmetric conflicts between the United States and other nations, we, as a US provider, may be targeted with increasing frequency. We cannot guarantee that our security measures will not be circumvented, thereby resulting in security events, network failures or interruptions that could impact our network security or availability and have a material adverse effect on our business, our ability to meet our financial reporting obligations, financial condition and operational results. We may be required to expend significant resources to protect against such threats, and may experience a reduction in revenues, litigation, and a diminution in goodwill, caused by a compromise of our cybersecurity. Although our customer contracts limit our liability, affected customers and third parties may seek to recover damages from us under various legal theories. In response to past attacks, we have implemented further controls and taken and planned for other preventative actions to further strengthen our systems against future attacks. However, we cannot assure you that such measures will provide absolute security, that we will be able to react in a timely manner, or that our remediation efforts following any past or future attacks will be successful.

If the information systems that we depend on to support our customers, network operations, sales, billing and financial reporting do not perform as expected, our operations and our financial results may be adversely affected.

We rely on complex information systems to operate our network and support our other business functions. Our ability to track sales leads, close sales opportunities, provision services, bill our customers for our services and prepare our financial statements depends upon the effective integration of our various information systems. In 2020, we developed and deployed our own customer relationship management software for our sales force. We may have difficulty maintaining this software and adding features that our sales representatives require. If our information systems, individually or collectively, fail or do not perform as expected, our ability to make sales, to process and provision orders, to make timely payments to vendors, to ensure that we collect amounts owed to us and prepare and file our financial statements would be adversely affected. Such failures or delays could result in increased capital expenditures, customer and vendor dissatisfaction, loss of business or the inability to add new customers or additional services, and the inability to prepare accurate and timely financial statements all of which would adversely affect our business and results of operations.

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Network Augmentation and Maintenance Risks

Our network is comprised of a number of separate components, and we may be unable to obtain or maintain the agreements necessary to augment or maintain our network.

Our network is primarily composed of (i) leased capacity on transoceanic optical fiber; (ii) terrestrial inter-city dark optical fiber; (iii) intra-city dark optical fiber; and (iv) the buildings that we serve and the associated optical fiber connecting those buildings. We lease our optical fiber and obtain access to the buildings on our network, both carrier neutral data centers and multi-tenant office buildings, from a number of vendors. A number of our leases, both for fiber and building access, are up for renewal in any given year. A deterioration in our existing relationship with these operators could impact our network, harm our sales and marketing efforts and could substantially reduce our potential customer base. In addition, portions of our long-haul optical fiber and metro optical fiber are nearing the end of their original projected useful life. While we believe that this fiber will remain usable beyond the projected end date, we face the risk that portions of our network may need to be replaced in the future.

We expect to enter additional agreements with carriers and operators to obtain additional facilities, whether optical fiber or buildings, for our network in order to add capacity to our network and to expand our addressable market. However, we cannot assure you that we will be able to enter into such agreements in the future, be able to do so on economically attractive terms or find an adequate substitute if we are unable to reach an agreement. Failure to acquire new facilities to augment our network could keep us from adding new markets, capacity or buildings to our network and negatively impact our growth opportunities.

Our off-net business could suffer delays and problems due to the actions of “last mile” providers on whom we are partially dependent.

Our off-net customers are connected to our network by means of fiber optic capacity that are provided as services by local telephone and cable companies and others. We may experience problems with the installation, maintenance and pricing of these lines which could adversely affect our results of operations and our plans to add additional off-net customers to our network using such services. We have historically experienced installation and maintenance delays when the network provider is devoting resources to other services, such as traditional telephony, cable TV services and private network services. We have also experienced pricing problems when a lack of alternatives allows a provider to charge high prices for capacity in a particular area or to a particular building. We attempt to reduce this problem by using many different providers so that we have alternatives for linking an off-net customer to our network. Competition among the providers tends to improve installation intervals, maintenance and pricing. Additionally, these providers are often competing with us for the same customers, and have marketed their own service to our off-net customers when our initial contract with our customer nears the end of its term.

Our business could suffer from an interruption of service from our fiber providers.

The optical fiber cable owners from whom we have obtained our inter-city and intra-city dark fiber maintain that dark fiber. We are contractually obligated under the agreements with these carriers to pay maintenance fees, and if we are unable to continue to pay such fees we would be in default under these agreements. If these carriers fail to maintain the fiber or disrupt our fiber connections due to our default or for other reasons, such as business disputes with us, bankruptcy, and governmental takings, our ability to provide service in the affected markets or parts of markets would be impaired unless we have or can obtain alternative fiber routes. Some of the companies that maintain our inter-city dark fiber and some of the companies that maintain our intra-city dark fiber are also competitors of ours in portions of our business. Consequently, they may have incentives to act in ways unfavorable to us. While we have successfully mitigated the effects of prior service interruptions and business disputes in the past, we may incur significant delays and costs in restoring service to our customers in connection with future service interruptions, and as a result we may lose customers.

Substantially all of our network infrastructure equipment is manufactured or provided by a single network infrastructure vendor.

We purchase from Cisco Systems, Inc. (“Cisco”) the routers and transmission equipment used in our network. We have recently experienced delays in obtaining certain network equipment from Cisco due to supply chain issues. If Cisco fails to provide equipment on a timely basis or fails to meet our performance expectations, including in the event that Cisco fails to enhance, maintain, upgrade or improve its products, hardware or software we purchase from them when and how we need them, we may be delayed or unable to provide services as and when requested by our customers. We also may be unable to upgrade our network and face greater difficulty maintaining and expanding our network.

Transitioning from Cisco to another vendor would be disruptive because of the time and expense required to learn to install, maintain and operate the new vendor’s equipment and to operate a multi-vendor network. Any such disruption could increase our costs, decrease our operating efficiencies and have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

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Cisco may also be subject to litigation with respect to the technology on which we depend, including litigation involving claims of patent infringement. Such claims have been growing rapidly in the communications industry. Regardless of the merit of these claims, they can result in the diversion of technical and management personnel, or require us to obtain non-infringing technology or enter into license agreements for the technology on which we depend. There can be no assurance that such non-infringing technology or licenses will be available on acceptable terms and conditions, if at all.

International Operations Risks

Our international operations expose us to numerous risks.

We have expanded our network into 50 countries worldwide on every continent other than Antarctica. We continue to explore expansion opportunities. We have experienced difficulties, ranging from lack of dark fiber, to regulatory issues, to slower revenue growth rates from our operations in these markets. If we are not successful in developing our market presence in these regions, our operating results and revenue growth could be adversely impacted.

Our international operations involve a number of risks, including:

fluctuations in currency exchange rates, particularly those involving the Euro as we are required to fund certain of our cash flow requirements of our operations outside of the United States and our €350.0 million senior unsecured notes in Euros;
exposure to additional regulatory and legal requirements, including import restrictions and controls, exchange controls, tariffs and other trade barriers and privacy and data protection regulations;
compliance with laws regarding corruption and bribery, including the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act;
difficulties in staffing and managing our foreign operations;
changes in political and economic conditions, and
exposure to additional and potentially adverse tax regimes.

As we continue to expand into other countries, our success will depend, in part, on our ability to anticipate and effectively manage these and other risks. Our failure to manage these risks and grow our operations outside the United States may have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

Litigation Risks

As an Internet service provider, we may incur liabilities for the content disseminated through our network or for network failures, delays or errors in transmissions

The law relating to the liabilities of ISPs for information carried on or disseminated through their networks is unsettled. As the law in this area develops and as we expand our international operations, the potential imposition of liabilities upon us for the behavior of our customers or the information carried on and disseminated through our network could require us to implement measures to reduce our exposure to such liabilities, which may require the expenditure of substantial resources or the discontinuation of certain products or service offerings. Any costs that are incurred as a result of such measures or the imposition of liabilities could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Regulatory Risks

Existing and proposed privacy regulations may impact our business

Many countries, including the United States, are considering adopting, or have already adopted, privacy regulations or laws that would govern the way an Internet user’s data is used. The primary impact of these rules are on businesses that collect personal information about consumer users of their services. We do not provide services to individual consumers and do not collect such personal information. However, we transmit data across the Internet, which data may include personal information collected by our customers. As the applicability of privacy regulations to the types of services we provide remains unsettled, we may be required to adopt additional measures in the future.

Privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) in the European Union and the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) in California vary in scope and in the obligations they impose on us. As new laws are implemented or existing structures are declared insufficient, such as the Privacy Shield program in place between the US and EU, we may find it difficult to comply with such regulations or find it costly to do so. Moreover, for our customers who collect personal information, increased regulation of the collection, processing and use of personal data may impact their business and their use of services in unknown ways.

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Changes in laws, rules, and enforcement could adversely affect us.

We are not subject to substantial regulation by the FCC or the state public utilities commissions in the United States. Internet service is also subject to minimal regulation in Western Europe and in Canada. Elsewhere the regulation is greater, though not as extensive as the regulation for providers of voice services. However, governmental authorities may decide to impose additional regulation and taxes upon providers of Internet access and private network services. All of these matters could inhibit our ability to remain a low-cost carrier and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and our results of operations.

As with the privacy laws described earlier, much of the laws related to the liability of Internet service providers for content on the network and the behavior of our customers and their end users remains unsettled. Some jurisdictions have laws, regulations, or court decisions that impose obligations upon ISPs to restrict access to certain content. Other legal issues, such as the sharing of copyrighted information, data protection, trans-border data flow, unsolicited commercial email (“spam”), universal service, and liability for software viruses could become subjects of additional legislation and legal development and changes in enforcement policies. We cannot predict the impact of these changes on us. They could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and our results of operations.

Changes in laws, rules and enforcement may also adversely affect our customers. For example, a possible repeal or curtailing of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in the United States could have an adverse impact on our customers and, consequently, on us. While our top 25 customers represented less than 6.0% of our revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021, several large net-centric customers are or may be the subject of increased regulatory scrutiny, which may impact their businesses and, consequently, their use of our services in unknown ways.

We may be required to censor content on the Internet, which we may find difficult to do and which may impact our ability to provide our services in some countries as well as impact the growth of Internet usage, upon which we depend.

Some governments attempt to limit access to certain content on the Internet. It is impossible for us to filter all content that flows across the Internet connections we provide. For example, some content is encrypted when a secure website is accessed. It is difficult to limit access to websites by blocking a fixed set of Internet addresses when the website operators engage in practices that make it difficult to block them. Should any government require us to perform these types of blocking procedures we could experience difficulties ranging from incurring additional expenses to ceasing to provide service in that country. We could also be subject to penalties if we fail to implement the censorship.

Tax Risks

Governments may assert that we are liable for taxes which we have not collected from our customers or paid to our vendors and we may have to begin collecting a multitude of taxes if Internet services become subject to taxation similar to the taxation of telephone service.

In the United States Internet services are generally not subject to taxes. Consequently, in the United States we collect few taxes from our customers even though most telecommunications services are subject to numerous taxes. Various local jurisdictions have asserted or may assert that some of our operations or services should be subject to local taxes. If such jurisdictions assess taxes on prior years we may be subject to a liability for unpaid taxes that we may be unable to collect from our customers or former customers. If the taxation of Internet service is expanded we will need to collect those taxes from our customers. The process of implementing a system to properly bill and collect such taxes may require significant resources. In addition, the FCC is considering changes to its Universal Services Fund that could result in its application to Internet services. This too would require that we expend resources to collect this tax. Finally, the cumulative effect of these taxes levied on Internet services could discourage potential customers from using Internet services to replace traditional telecommunication services and negatively impact our ability to grow our business.

Our private network services, such as our VPN services, are subject to taxes and fees in various jurisdictions including the Universal Service Contribution tax in the US. We believe we collect all required taxes, however, a jurisdiction may assert we have failed to collect certain taxes. The expense of paying any unpaid taxes could be substantial and we might not be able to collect such back taxes from our customers.

We are subject to value-added taxes and other taxes in many jurisdictions outside of the United States. We are also subject to audit of our tax compliance in numerous jurisdictions. These may result in the assessment of amounts due that are material and therefore would have an adverse effect on us.

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The utilization of certain of our net operating loss carryforwards is limited and depending upon the amount of our taxable income we may be subject to paying income taxes earlier than planned.

Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code in the United States limits the utilization of net operating losses when ownership changes, as defined by that section, occur. We have performed an analysis of our Section 382 ownership changes and have determined that the utilization of certain of our net operating loss carryforwards in the United States is limited. Further, recent changes to the tax law in the United States and changes to tax laws in other jurisdictions in which we operate may impact our utilization of our net operating losses.

Risk Factors Related to Our Indebtedness

We have substantial debt which we may not be able to repay when due.

Our total indebtedness, at par, at December 31, 2021 was $1.1 billion and includes $500.0 million of our 3.50% senior secured notes and €350.0 million of our 4.375% senior unsecured notes. Our $500.0 million senior secured notes are due in May 2026 and require annual interest payments of $17.5 million per year - paid semi-annually. Our €350.0 million of senior unsecured notes are due in June 2024 and require annual interest payments of €15.3 million per year - paid semi-annually. All of our noteholders have the right to be paid the principal upon default and upon certain designated events, such as certain changes of control. Our total indebtedness at December 31, 2021 included $245.9 million of finance lease obligations for dark fiber primarily under 15 — 20 year IRUs. Our total indebtedness at December 31, 2021 excludes $124.0 million of operating lease liabilities which we were required to be recorded as right-to-use assets and operating lease liabilities in connection with the adoption of ASU No. 2016-02 Leases on January 1, 2019. The amount of our IRU finance lease obligations may be impacted due to our expansion activities, the timing of payments and fluctuations in foreign currency rates. The amount of US dollars required to fund our interest and principal obligations for our Euro-denominated notes may be impacted due to fluctuations in the Euro to US Dollar exchange rate. We may not have sufficient funds to pay the interest and principal related to these obligations at the time we are obligated to do so, which could result in bankruptcy, or we may only be able to raise the necessary funds on unfavorable terms.

Our substantial level of indebtedness could adversely affect our financial condition and prevent us from fulfilling our obligations under our notes and our other indebtedness.

We have substantial indebtedness. Our substantial debt may have important consequences. For instance, it could:

make it more difficult for us to satisfy our financial obligations, including those relating to our debt;
require us to dedicate a substantial portion of any cash flow from operations to the payment of interest and principal due under our debt, which will reduce funds available for other business purposes, including the growth of our operations, capital expenditures, dividends, purchases of our common stock and acquisitions;
place us at a competitive disadvantage compared with some of our competitors that may have less debt and better access to capital resources; and
limit our ability to obtain additional financing required to fund working capital and capital expenditures, for strategic acquisitions and for other general corporate purposes.

Our ability to satisfy our obligations including our debt depends on our future operating performance and on economic, financial, competitive and other factors, many of which are beyond our control. Our business may not generate sufficient cash flow, and future financings may not be available to provide sufficient net proceeds, to meet these obligations or to successfully execute our business strategy.

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We have assumed the risk associated with variable interest rates under our interest rate swap agreement.

Beginning in August 2021 we used a derivative financial instrument to manage our interest rate risk on our 2026 Notes. As of December 31, 2021, we were party to an interest rate swap agreement (the Swap Agreement”) that has the economic effect of modifying the fixed-interest rate obligation associated with our 2026 Notes to a variable interest rate obligation based on the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”). The Swap Agreement is recorded at its fair value at each reporting period and we incur gains and losses due to changes in market interest rates. We have a $20.0 million interest-bearing deposit with the counterparty to the Swap Agreement. If the fair value of the Swap Agreement exceeds a net liability of $20.0 million, we will be required to deposit additional funds with the counterparty equal to the net liability fair value in excess of $20.0 million. As of December 31, 2021, the fair value of the Swap Agreement was a net liability of $9.0 million and, as a result, $9.0 million of the $20.0 million deposit was restricted and $11.0 million was unrestricted. The values that we report for the Swap Agreement as of each reporting date are recognized as interest expense with the corresponding amounts included in assets or liabilities in our consolidated balance sheets. By entering into this Swap Agreement, we have assumed the risk associated with variable interest rates based upon SOFR relate to our 2026 Notes. We did not elect hedge accounting for our Swap Agreement. We do not use derivative financial instruments for trading purposes.

Despite our leverage we may still be able to incur more debt. This could further exacerbate the risks that we and our subsidiaries face.

We and our subsidiaries may incur additional indebtedness, including additional secured indebtedness, in the future. The terms of our debt indentures restrict, but do not completely prohibit, us from doing so. In addition, the indentures allow us to issue additional notes and other indebtedness secured by the collateral under certain circumstances. Moreover, we are not prevented from incurring other liabilities that do not constitute indebtedness as defined in the indentures, including additional operating leases obligations and finance lease obligations in the form of IRUs. These liabilities may represent claims that are effectively prior to the claims of our note holders. If new debt or other liabilities are added to our debt levels the related risks that we and our subsidiaries now face could intensify.

The agreements governing our various debt obligations impose restrictions on our business and could adversely affect our ability to undertake certain corporate actions.

The agreements governing our various debt obligations include covenants imposing significant restrictions on our business. These restrictions may affect our ability to operate our business and may limit our ability to take advantage of potential business opportunities as they arise. These covenants place restrictions on our ability to, among other things:

incur additional debt;
create liens;
make certain investments;
enter into certain transactions with affiliates;
declare or pay dividends, redeem stock or make other distributions to stockholders; and
consolidate, merge or transfer or sell all or substantially all of our assets.

Our ability to comply with these agreements may be affected by events beyond our control, including prevailing economic, financial and industry conditions. These covenants could have an adverse effect on our business by limiting our ability to take advantage of financing, merger and acquisition or other corporate opportunities. The breach of any of these covenants or restrictions could result in a default under the agreements governing our debt obligations.

To service our indebtedness, we will require a significant amount of cash. However, our ability to generate cash depends on many factors many of which are beyond our control.

Our ability to make payments on and to refinance our indebtedness and to fund planned capital expenditures will depend on our ability to generate cash in the future, which, in turn, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, regulatory and other factors, many of which are beyond our control.

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Our business may not generate sufficient cash flow from operations and we may not have available to us future borrowings in an amount sufficient to enable us to pay our indebtedness or to fund our other liquidity needs. In these circumstances, we may need to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness on or before maturity. We may not be able to refinance any of our indebtedness on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Without this financing, we could be forced to sell assets or secure additional financing to make up for any shortfall in our payment obligations under unfavorable circumstances. However, we may not be able to secure additional financing on terms favorable to us or at all and, in addition, the terms of the indentures governing our notes limit our ability to sell assets and also restrict the use of proceeds from such a sale. We may not be able to sell assets quickly enough or for sufficient amounts to enable us to meet our obligations, including our obligations under our notes.

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

We lease space for offices, data centers, colocation facilities, and points-of-presence.

Our headquarters facility consists of 43,117 square feet located in Washington, D.C. The lease for our headquarters is with an entity controlled by our Chief Executive Officer and expires in May 2025. The lease may be cancelled by us upon 60 days’ notice.

We lease a total of approximately 748,000 square feet of space for our data centers, offices and operations centers. We believe that these facilities are generally in good condition and suitable for our operations.

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

We are involved in legal proceedings in the ordinary course of our business that we do not expect to have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. For a discussion of the significant proceedings in which we are involved, see Note 6 to our consolidated financial statements.

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

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PART II

ITEM 5.

MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Our sole class of common equity is our common stock, par value $0.001, which is currently traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “CCOI.” Prior to March 6, 2006, our common stock traded on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol “COI.” Prior to February 5, 2002, no established public trading market for our common stock existed.

As of February 1, 2022, there were 128 holders of record of shares of our common stock holding 46,595,035 shares of our common stock.

Performance Graph

Our common stock currently trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. The chart below compares the relative changes in the cumulative total return of our common stock for the period from December 31, 2016 to December 31, 2021, against the cumulative total return for the same period of the (1) The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index and (2) the NASDAQ Telecommunications Index. The comparison below assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2016 in our common stock, the S&P 500 Index and the NASDAQ Telecommunications Index, with dividends, if any, reinvested.

Graphic

    

12/16

    

12/17

    

12/18

    

12/19

    

12/20

    

12/21

Cogent Communications Holdings

 

$

100.00

 

$

114.31

 

$

119.11

 

$

180.92

 

$

171.38

$

218.88

S&P 500

 

100.00

 

121.83

 

116.49

 

153.17

181.35

233.41

NASDAQ Telecommunications

 

100.00

 

117.62

 

108.29

 

137.49

 

166.70

174.78

The stock price performance included in this graph is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Our Board of Directors authorized a plan to permit the repurchase of up to $50.0 million of our common stock in negotiated and open market transactions through December 31, 2022. As of December 31, 2021, $30.4 million remained available for such negotiated and open market transactions concerning our common stock. We may purchase shares from time to time depending on market, economic, and other factors. We did not purchase shares of our common stock during the fourth quarter of 2021.

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ITEM 7.

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

You should read the following discussion and analysis together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in this report. The discussion in this report contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, such as statements of our plans, objectives, expectations and intentions. The cautionary statements made in this report should be read as applying to all related forward-looking statements wherever they appear in this report. Factors that could cause or contribute to these differences include those discussed in “Item 1A. Risk Factors, as well as those discussed elsewhere. You should read “Item 1A. Risk Factors and “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed here. Factors that could cause or contribute to these differences include, but are not limited to:

The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying government policies worldwide; vaccination and in-office requirements, delays in the delivery of network equipment and optical fiber, future economic instability in the global economy, which could affect spending on Internet services; the impact of changing foreign exchange rates (in particular the Euro to US dollar and Canadian dollar to US dollar exchange rates) on the translation of our non-US dollar denominated revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities into US dollars; legal and operational difficulties in new markets; the imposition of a requirement that we contribute to the US Universal Service Fund on the basis of our Internet revenue; changes in government policy and/or regulation, including rules regarding data protection, cyber security and net neutrality; increasing competition leading to lower prices for our services; our ability to attract new customers and to increase and maintain the volume of traffic on our network; the ability to maintain our Internet peering arrangements on favorable terms; our ability to renew our long-term leases of optical fiber that comprise our network; our reliance on an equipment vendor, Cisco Systems Inc., and the potential for hardware or software problems associated with such equipment; the dependence of our network on the quality and dependability of third-party fiber providers; our ability to retain certain customers that comprise a significant portion of our revenue base; the management of network failures and/or disruptions; our ability to make payments on our indebtedness as they become due and outcomes in litigation, risks associated with variable interest rates under our interest rate Swap Agreement as well as other risks discussed from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, without limitation, this Annual Report on Form 10-K and our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q.

Results of Operations

Year Ended December 31, 2021 Compared to the Year Ended December 31, 2020

In this section, we discuss the results of our operations for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020. For a discussion of the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to the year ended December 31, 2019, please refer to Part II, Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020.

Our management reviews and analyzes several key financial measures in order to manage our business and assess the quality and variability of our service revenue, operating results and cash flows. The following summary tables present a comparison of our results of operations with respect to certain key financial measures. The comparisons illustrated in the tables are discussed in greater detail below.

Year Ended

 

December 31, 

Percent

 

    

2021

    

2020

    

Change

 

 

(in thousands)

Service revenue

$

589,797

$

568,103

 

3.8

%

On-net revenues

 

442,838

 

419,454

 

5.6

%

Off-net revenues

 

146,383

 

148,128

 

(1.2)

%

Network operations expenses (1)

 

226,337

 

219,157

 

3.3

%

Selling, general, and administrative expenses (2)

 

162,380

 

158,476

 

2.5

%

Depreciation and amortization expenses

 

89,240

 

83,477

 

6.9

%

Gain (loss) on lease terminations

7,375

(423)

NM

Realized gain on foreign exchange – 2024 Notes

2,533

NM

Unrealized gain (loss) on foreign exchange - 2024 Notes

 

32,522

 

(36,997)

 

NM

Loss on debt extinguishment and redemption – 2021 Notes

(638)

NM

Loss on debt extinguishment and redemption – 2022 Notes

(14,698)

NM

Interest expense

 

67,074

 

62,486

 

7.3

%

Income tax expense

 

23,235

 

4,096

 

467.3

%

(1)Includes non-cash equity-based compensation expense of $2,521 and $1,219 for 2021 and 2020, respectively.
(2)Includes non-cash equity-based compensation expense of $24,301 and $22,306 for 2021 and 2020, respectively.

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NM - not meaningful

Year Ended

 

December 31, 

Percent

 

    

2021

    

2020

    

Change

 

Other Operating Data

  

Average Revenue Per Unit (ARPU)

 

  

 

  

 

  

ARPU—on-net

$

467

$

460

 

1.5

%

ARPU—off-net

$

990

$

1,045

 

(5.2)

%

Average price per megabit

$

0.35

$

0.46

 

(24.2)

%

Customer Connections—end of period

 

 

 

On-net

 

80,723

 

77,305

 

4.4

%

Off-net

 

12,669

 

11,970

 

5.8

%

Service Revenue. We continually work to grow our total service revenue by increasing the number of potential customers that we can reach on our network. We do this by investing capital to expand the geographic footprint of our network, by increasing the number of buildings that we are connected to, including carrier neutral data centers and multi-tenant office buildings, and by increasing our penetration rate into our existing buildings. These efforts broaden the global reach of our network and increase the size of our potential addressable market. We also seek to grow our service revenue by investing in our sales and marketing team. We typically sell corporate connections at similar pricing to our competitors, but our clients benefit from our significantly faster speeds, enhanced service level agreements and rapid installation times. In the net-centric market, we offer comparable services in terms of capacity but typically at significantly lower prices.

Our service revenue increased by 3.8% from 2020 to 2021. Exchange rates positively impacted our increase in service revenue by $5.3 million. All foreign currency comparisons herein reflect results for 2021 translated at the average foreign currency exchange rates for 2020. We increased our total service revenue by expanding our network, by adding additional buildings to our network, by increasing our penetration into the buildings connected to our network and by gaining market share by offering our services at lower prices than our competitors.

Revenue recognition standards include guidance relating to any tax assessed by a governmental authority that is directly imposed on a revenue-producing transaction between a seller and a customer and may include, but is not limited to, gross receipts taxes, Universal Service Fund fees and certain state regulatory fees. We record these taxes billed to our customers on a gross basis (as service revenue and network operations expense) in our consolidated statements of operations. The impact of these taxes including the Universal Service Fund resulted in an increase to our revenues from 2020 to 2021 of $3.4 million.

Our corporate customers generally purchase their services on a price per connection basis. Our net-centric customers generally purchase their services on a price per megabit basis. Revenues from our corporate and net-centric customers represented 60.8% and 39.2% of total service revenue, respectively, for 2021 and represented 67.5% and 32.5% of total service revenue, respectively, for 2020. Revenues from corporate customers decreased by 6.5% to $358.4 million for 2021 from 2020. Revenues from our net-centric customers increased by 25.3% to $231.4 million for 2021 from 2020.

Our corporate customers take advantage of our superior speeds, service levels and installation times versus our competitors. The growing trend of customers installing second lines for redundancy in order to construct VPNs has also led to our ability to increase our corporate revenues. However, beginning in the second quarter of 2020, we saw corporate customers take a more cautious approach to new configurations and upgrades as well as a reduction in demand for connecting smaller satellite offices as a result of the challenges and uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also witnessed a deteriorating real estate market in and around the buildings we service, with rising vacancy levels and falling lease initiations or renewals resulting in fewer sales opportunities for our salesforce. As a result, we have experienced a slowdown in new sales to our corporate customers which negatively impacted our corporate revenue results. While we believe that demand for office space in the buildings in which we operate will remain among the strongest in our markets, we may experience increased corporate customer turnover, fewer upgrades of existing corporate customer configurations and fewer new tenant opportunities which would negatively impact our corporate revenue growth.

Our revenue from our net-centric customers increased primarily due to an increase in our number of net-centric customers and growth in network traffic from these customers partly offset by a decline in our average price per megabit. Our net-centric customers purchase our services on a price per megabit basis. The net-centric market exhibits significant pricing pressure due to the continued introduction of new technology which lowers the marginal cost of transmission and routing, and the commodity nature of the service where price is typically the only differentiating factor for these customers. Our average price per megabit of our installed base of customers declined by 24.2% from 2020 to 2021. We expect that our average price per megabit will continue to decline at similar rates. The impact of foreign exchange rates has a more significant impact on our net-centric revenues.

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Our on-net revenues increased by 5.6% from 2020 to 2021. Our on-net revenues increased as we increased the number of our on-net customer connections by 4.4% at December 31, 2021 from December 31, 2020. On-net revenues increased at a greater rate than on-net customer connections primarily due to an increase in our on-net ARPU from 2020 to 2021 and the positive impact of foreign exchange. ARPU is determined by dividing revenue for the period by the average customer connections for that period.

Our off-net revenues decreased by 1.2% from 2020 to 2021. Our off-net revenues decreased primarily from the 5.2% decrease in our off-net ARPU from 2020 to 2021 offsetting the 5.8% increase in the number of our off-net customer connections from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2021.

Network Operations Expenses. Network operations expenses include the costs of personnel associated with service delivery, network management and customer support, network facilities costs, fiber and equipment maintenance fees, leased circuit costs, access and facilities fees paid to building owners and excise taxes billed to our customers and recorded on a gross basis. Non-cash equity-based compensation expense is included in network operations expenses consistent with the classification of the employee’s salary and other compensation. Our network operations expenses, including non-cash equity-based compensation expense, increased by 3.3% for 2021 from 2020. The increase in network operations expense is primarily attributable to an increase in costs related to our network and facilities expansion activities and an increase in equity-based compensation expense from the vesting of restricted employee shares, partly offset by price reductions obtained in certain of our leased circuit costs and the impact of a renewal of an IRU fiber lease agreement in the second quarter of 2020. When we adopted ASU 2016-02, we elected to apply certain practical expedients under ASU 2016-02 including not separating the lease and non-lease components of our finance and operating leases. As a result of accounting for this IRU renewal under ASU 2016-02, the present value of $1.8 million of quarterly maintenance and co-location fees (non-lease components) that were previously accounted for as network operations expenses prior to the second quarter of 2020, were capitalized as a finance lease liability and right-of-use leased asset totaling $34.0 million. Amortization of the right-of-use asset is recorded as depreciation and amortization expense and the payments that are made toward the finance lease liability are recorded as a reduction of the finance lease liability and interest expense.

Selling, General, and Administrative (“SG&A”) Expenses. Our SG&A expenses, including non-cash equity-based compensation expense, increased by 2.5% for 2021 from 2020. Non-cash equity-based compensation expense is included in SG&A expenses consistent with the classification of the employee’s salary and other compensation. SG&A expenses increased primarily from an increase in salaries and related costs required to support our expansion and increases in our sales efforts, partly offset by a reduction in sales meeting and travel costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic and a reduction in bad debt expense. Our sales force headcount was 712 at December 31, 2020 and 633 at December 31, 2021, and our total headcount was 1,083 at December 31, 2020 and 1,001 at December 31, 2021. We experienced an increase in both voluntary and involuntary employee departures, particularly within our sales department, in the third and fourth quarters of 2021. We believe that this rise in departures was attributable both to an increased focus on monitoring sales productivity and to the unwillingness of some employees to be vaccinated and/or to return to a full-time, in-office environment.

Depreciation and Amortization Expenses. Our depreciation and amortization expense increased by 6.9% for 2021 from 2020. The increase is primarily due to the depreciation expense associated with the increase in deployed fixed assets and the impact of a renewal of an IRU fiber lease agreement in the second quarter of 2020. As a result of accounting for this IRU renewal under ASU 2016-02, the present value of $1.8 million of quarterly maintenance and co-location fees (non-lease components) that were previously accounted for as network operations expenses prior to the second quarter of 2020, were capitalized as a finance lease liability and right-of-use leased asset totaling $34.0 million. Amortization of the right-of-use asset is recorded as depreciation and amortization expense and the payments that are made toward the finance lease liability are recorded as a reduction of the finance lease liability and interest expense.

Interest Expense and Losses on Debt Extinguishment and Redemptions. Our interest expense resulted from interest incurred on our $445.0 million of our 2022 Notes until these notes were fully extinguished in May 2021, interest incurred on our €350.0 million of 2024 Notes, interest incurred on our $500.0 million of 2026 Notes that we issued in May 2021, interest incurred on our installment payment agreement and interest incurred on our finance lease obligations. We issued €215.0 million of our 2024 Notes in June 2020 and €135.0 million of our 2024 Notes were issued in June 2019. In June 2020, we redeemed and extinguished our $189.2 million of 2021 Notes at par value resulting in a loss on debt extinguishment and redemption of $0.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2020. In March 2021, we redeemed and extinguished $115.9 million of our 2022 Notes at 103.24% of par value resulting in a loss on debt extinguishment and redemption of $3.9 million and reduced the par value from $445.0 million to $329.1 million. In May 2021, we extinguished the remaining $329.1 million of our 2022 Notes at par value and deposited funds with the trustee to pay $11.5 million of interest through December 1, 2021 resulting in a loss on debt extinguishment and redemption of $10.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2021.

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In August 2021 we entered into our Swap Agreement that has the economic effect of modifying the fixed interest rate obligation associated with our 2026 Notes to a variable interest rate obligation based on SOFR so that the interest payable on the 2026 Notes effectively became variable based on overnight SOFR. The Swap Agreement is recorded at its fair value at each reporting period, and we incurs gains and losses due to changes in market interest rates. The values that we report for the Swap Agreement as of each reporting date are recognized as non-cash interest expense with the corresponding amounts included in assets or liabilities in our consolidated balance sheets. As of December 31, 2021 the fair value of our Swap Agreement was a net liability of $9.0 million and we recorded an unrealized loss as interest expense related to our Swap Agreement of $9.0 million in 2021. We did not elect hedge accounting for our Swap Agreement. Our interest expense increased by 7.3% from 2020 to 2021. This increase was primarily due to the reduction in interest expense from the lower interest rate on our new 2026 Notes as compared to our extinguished 2022 Notes being offset by the additional $9.0 million of additional non-cash interest expense we recorded related to our Swap Agreement.

Realized Gain and Unrealized Gain (Loss) on Foreign Exchange – 2024 Notes. In June 2020, our €215.0 million of 2024 Notes were issued at a Euro to USD rate of $1.112. We received proceeds in USD on the 2024 Notes on June 9, 2020 at a Euro to USD rate of $1.133 resulting in a realized gain on foreign exchange of $2.5 million. Our 2024 Notes were issued in Euros and are reported in our reporting currency – US Dollars. As of December 31, 2021, our 2024 Notes were valued at $397.0 million. Our unrealized gain (loss) on foreign exchange on our 2024 Notes from converting our 2024 Notes into USD was $32.5 million for 2021 and $(37.0) million for 2020. We have not entered into hedging arrangements for our foreign currency obligations.

Income Tax Expense. Our income tax expense was $23.2 million for 2021 and $4.1 million for 2020. The increase in our income tax expense is primarily related to an increase in certain non-deductible expenses and the increase in our income before income taxes.

Buildings On-net. As of December 31, 2021 and 2020, we had a total of 3,035 and 2,914 on-net buildings connected to our network, respectively. The increase in our on-net buildings was a result of our disciplined network expansion program. We anticipate adding a similar number of buildings to our network for the next several years.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

In assessing our liquidity, management reviews and analyzes our current cash balances, accounts receivable, accounts payable, accrued liabilities, capital expenditure commitments, and required finance lease and debt payments and other obligations. As our business has grown as a result of an increasing customer base, broader geographic coverage and increased traffic on our network, we have produced a growing level of operating cash flow. As a result of the operating leverage of our network, our annual capital expenditures as measured as a percentage of revenues has fallen over the last decade. Increasing our operating cash flow is in part dependent upon expanding our geographic footprint and increasing our network capacity. Recent supply chain issues may adversely impact our ability to grow our network and revenue.

We have also had increasing success in raising capital by issuing notes and arranging financing and leases that have had a lower cost and more flexible terms. The combination of this improved operating performance and access to capital has enhanced our financial flexibility and increased our ability to make distributions to shareholders in the form of cash dividends or through share repurchases. Since our initial public offering, we have returned over $1.0 billion to our shareholders through share repurchases and dividends. We will continue to assess our capital and liquidity needs and, where appropriate, return capital to shareholders.

Over the next several years we have significant contractual and anticipated cash outlays including our indicative dividend payments on our common stock, our maturing debt obligations, interest payments on our debt obligations and our projected capital expenditure requirements in order to help execute our business plan. Based upon our historical growth rate of our dividend, we expect that we would have to provide approximately $353 million in order to meet our quarterly dividend payments over the next two years. Our $500.0 million of Senior Secured Notes mature in May 2026 and include annual interest payments of $17.5 million until maturity. Our €350 million of Senior Unsecured Euro Notes mature in June 2024 and include annual interest payments €15.3 million until maturity. Our €350 million of Senior Unsecured Euro Notes are denominated in Euros and expose us to potentially unfavorable adverse movements in foreign currency rate changes. Our overseas operations provides us access to Euros, however these amounts may be insufficient to fund our obligations under our Senior Unsecured Euro Notes. Additionally, we have not entered into foreign currency hedging arrangements which would seek to reduce our risks related to foreign exchange volatility.

Any future acquisitions or other significant unplanned costs or cash requirements in excess of amounts we currently hold may require that we raise additional funds through the issuance of debt or equity. We cannot assure you that such financing will be available on terms acceptable to us or our stockholders, or at all. Insufficient funds may require us to delay or scale back the number of buildings and markets that we add to our network, reduce our planned increase in our sales and marketing efforts, or require us to otherwise alter our business plan or take other actions that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. If issuing equity securities raises additional funds, substantial dilution to existing stockholders may result.

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We may need to or elect to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness at or before maturity and we cannot provide assurances that we will be able to refinance any such indebtedness on commercially reasonable terms or at all. In addition, we may elect to secure additional capital in the future, at acceptable terms, to improve our liquidity or fund acquisitions or for general corporate purposes. In addition, in an effort to reduce future cash interest payments as well as future amounts due at maturity or to extend debt maturities, we may, from time to time, issue new debt, enter into interest rate swap agreements, enter into debt for debt, or cash transactions to purchase our outstanding debt securities in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions. We will evaluate any such transactions in light of the existing market conditions. The amounts involved in any such transaction, individually or in the aggregate, may be material.

We or our affiliates may, at any time and from time to time, seek to retire or purchase our outstanding debt through cash purchases and/or exchanges for equity or debt, in open-market purchases, privately negotiated transactions or otherwise. Such repurchases or exchanges, if any, will be upon such terms and at such prices as we may determine, and will depend on prevailing market conditions, our liquidity requirements, contractual restrictions and other factors. The amounts involved may be material.

In light of the economic uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, our executive officers and Board have continued to carefully monitor our liquidity and cash requirements. Based on current circumstances, we plan to continue our current dividend policy. Given uncertainties regarding the duration of the pandemic and timing for economic recovery, we will continue to monitor our capital spending. As we do each year, we will continue to monitor our future sources and uses of cash, and anticipate that we will make adjustments to our capital allocation strategies when, as and if determined by our Board of Directors.

Impact of COVID-19 on Our Liquidity and Operating Performance

We continue to operate with a high level of liquidity, and as of December 31, 2021, we had cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash of $328.6 million. The COVID-19 pandemic has not impacted our credit rating to date, nor do we believe that it has materially changed our cost of capital. We believe we are able to timely service our debt obligations and will not require any concessions to do so. We believe we will have access to additional capital from a variety of sources and the public capital markets for debt and equity.

In late March 2020, we adopted a mandatory policy through which we required all employees to work from home and follow shelter in place guidelines issued by state and local authorities. In July 2021, we allowed all employees to return voluntarily to all offices in the United States. In August 2021, we notified our employees that they would be required to return to the office on a full time basis in the United States beginning in September 2021 and that they would be required to attest that they were fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus to do so. Employees had until October 11, 2021 to provide their vaccine self-attestation. Fully vaccinated employees in the United States returned to our offices on a full-time basis in early September 2021. In October 2021, we opened most of our non-US offices for employees to return on a voluntary basis and, where permitted, on a mandatory basis in November 2021.

The spread of the Omicron variant around the world in December 2021 caused us to modify further our office environment. First, we mandated that all U.S. employees receive a COVID-19 booster vaccine no later than six weeks after first becoming eligible for such vaccine. Second, we mandated that all U.S. employees provide proof of vaccination to us. Third, for offices around the world that had not been closed by government order, we shifted much of our workforce to fully remote status on a temporary basis at the end of 2021 in order to reduce the density of our offices. Sales representatives with less than 12 months tenure, sales representative on performance improvement plans and their managers are currently still working in our offices on a full-time basis, as we believe that the training and coaching required by new and underperforming sales representatives is significantly more effective when provided in an in-office environment.

Our employees have largely complied with our vaccine mandate in the United States. However, we experienced an increase in both voluntary and involuntary employee departures, particularly within our sales department, in the third and fourth quarters of 2021. We believe this rise in departures is attributable both to an increased focus on managing underperforming sales representatives and to the unwillingness of some employees to be vaccinated and/or to return to a full time, in office environment. As a result of our decisions to mandate COVID vaccination and to require employees to return to our offices on a full time basis, we may find it difficult to retain existing employees or hire new employees. If this occurs, we may experience lower sales, revenue and profitability.

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We have experienced certain corporate customers taking a more cautious approach to new configurations and upgrades as well as a reduction in demand for connecting smaller satellite offices as a result of the challenges and uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also have witnessed a deteriorating real estate market in and around the buildings we service with rising vacancy levels and falling lease initiations or renewals which resulted in fewer sales opportunities for our salesforce and a reduction in VPN opportunities. As a result, we experienced a slowdown in new sales to our corporate customers which negatively impacted our corporate revenue growth. Moreover, with the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the summer of 2021 and then the Omicron variant in December of 2021, we believe many companies delayed the return of their employees to in-office work. As the pandemic has continued, and the return of employees to their offices has been delayed, a greater number of corporate customers with contracts that reached their termination date have elected not to renew their service with us. As such, we began to see increased corporate customer turnover. We also experienced a reduction in new sales to corporate customers. While we believe that demand for office space in the buildings in which we operate will remain among the strongest in our markets, and that most employers will eventually require their employees to return to their offices, we may experience increased customer turnover, fewer upgrades of existing customer configurations and fewer new tenant opportunities. These trends may negatively impact our revenue growth, cash flows and profitability.

We have seen a slight slowdown in the availability and delivery of networking equipment and optical fiber. While we believe we can adequately manage the operation, maintenance, upgrading and growth of our network, a worsening or prolonged slowdown may impact our ability to expand and augment our network.

Shortly after COVID-19 began its rapid spread around the world, domestic and worldwide capital markets ceased normal operations for a short period. While worldwide capital markets have remained unstable or unpredictable since then, particularly for non-investment grade issuers, legislative bodies and reserve banks have taken various actions in response to the pandemic that have impacted the capital markets, and we expect that these efforts may continue. We cannot predict whether new COVID-19 variants will arise and spread widely, the impact of the spread of new COVID-19 variants on the global economy, how national and local governments may react to the spread of new variants nor predict the impact the variants and any measures taken in response may have on our operations, employee retention, revenue growth, cash flows and our profitability.

Cash Flows

The following table sets forth our consolidated cash flows.

Year Ended December 31,

    

2021

    

2020

    

2019

(in thousands)

Net cash provided by operating activities

$

170,257

$

140,320

$

148,809

Net cash used in investing activities

 

(69,916)

 

(55,952)

(46,958)

Net cash (used in) provided by financing activities

 

(140,825)

 

(116,002)

22,020

Effect of exchange rates on cash

 

(2,193)

 

3,513

(542)

Net (decrease) increase in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash during the year

$

(42,677)

$

(28,121)

$

123,329

Net Cash Provided By Operating Activities. Our primary source of operating cash is receipts from our customers who are billed on a monthly basis for our services. Our primary uses of operating cash are payments made to our vendors, employees and interest payments made to our finance lease vendors and our note holders. Our changes in cash provided by operating activities are primarily due to changes in our operating profit and changes in our interest payments. Cash provided by operating activities for 2021, 2020 and 2019 included interest payments on our note obligations of $50.1 million, $48.8 million and $38.0 million, respectively.

Net Cash Used In Investing Activities. Our primary use of investing cash is for purchases of property and equipment. These amounts were $69.9 million, $56.0 million and $47.0 million for 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively. The annual changes in purchases of property and equipment are primarily due to the timing and scope of our network expansion activities including geographic expansion and adding buildings to our network. In 2020 and 2019 we obtained $5.8 million and $11.3 million, respectively, of network equipment and software in non-cash exchanges for notes payable under an installment payment agreement. There was no network equipment and software obtained under the installment payment agreement in 2021.

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Net Cash (Used In) Provided By Financing Activities. Our primary uses of cash for financing activities are for dividend payments, stock purchases and principal payments under our debt and finance lease obligations. During 2021, 2020 and 2019 we paid $150.3 million, $129.4 million and $112.6 million, respectively, for our quarterly dividend payments. Our quarterly dividend payments have increased due to regular quarterly increases in our quarterly dividend per share amounts. Amounts paid under our stock buyback program were $4.5 million for 2020. There were no stock purchases during 2021 or 2019. Principal payments under our finance lease obligations were $23.1 million, $24.0 million and $9.1 million for 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively, and are impacted by the timing and extent of our network expansion activities. Total installment payment agreement principal payments were $6.9 million, $10.5 million and $10.0 million for 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively.

We completed a series of debt redemptions and issuances in 2021, 2020 and 2019. In March 2021, we paid $119.7 million to redeem and extinguish $115.9 million of our 2022 Notes at 103.24% of par value. In May 2021, we redeemed and extinguished the remaining $329.1 million of our 2022 Notes at par value and deposited funds with the trustee to pay $11.5 million of interest through December 1, 2021. The total payments to redeem our 2022 Notes were $459.3 million. In May 2021, we issued $500.0 million of our 2026 Notes for net proceeds of $496.9 million. In June 2020, we redeemed our $189.2 million of our 2021 Notes at par value and completed an offering of €215.0 million of our 2024 Notes for net proceeds of $240.3 million. In June 2019 we received net proceeds of $152.1 million from the issuance of €135.0 million of our 2024 Notes.

Indebtedness

Our total cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at December 31, 2021 were $328.6 million. We believe this level of liquidity reduces our exposure to refinancing risk, potential underperformance of the business or other unforeseen challenges and enhances our ability to pursue acquisitions or operating opportunities. We intend upon holding levels of cash and cash equivalents sufficient to maintain our ability to fund operations, refinance indebtedness and make dividend payments to our shareholders.

Our total indebtedness at December 31, 2021, at par value, was $1.1 billion. Our total indebtedness at December 31, 2021 includes $245.9 million of finance lease obligations for dark fiber under long-term IRU agreements.

On May 15, 2014, pursuant to the Agreement and Plan of Reorganization (the “Merger Agreement”) by and among Cogent Communications Group, Inc. (“Group”), a Delaware corporation, Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Holdings”) and Cogent Communications Merger Sub, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Merger Sub”), Group adopted a new holding company organizational structure whereby Group is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Holdings. Holdings is a “successor issuer” to Group pursuant to Rule 12g-3(a) under the Exchange Act.

Senior secured notes—$500.0 million

In May 2021, Group issued $500.0 million of 2026 Notes. The 2026 Notes were sold in private offerings for resale to qualified institutional buyers pursuant to SEC Rule 144A and mature on May 1, 2026. Interest accrues at 3.50% and is paid semi-annually in arrears on May 1 and November 1 of each year. Holdings provided a guarantee of the 2026 Notes but Holdings is not subject to the covenants under the indenture.

Senior unsecured notes—€350.0 million

In June 2019, Group completed an offering of €135.0 million of 2024 Notes. In June 2020, Group completed an offering of €215.0 million of 2024 Notes. The 2024 Notes were sold in private offerings for resale to qualified institutional buyers pursuant to SEC Rule 144A and mature on June 30, 2024. Interest accrues at 4.375% and is paid semi-annually in arrears on June 30 and December 30 of each year. Holdings provided a guarantee of the 2024 Notes but Holdings is not subject to the covenants under the indenture.

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Limitations under the indentures

The indenture governing the 2024 Notes (the “2024 Notes Indenture”) and the 2026 Notes (the “2026 Notes Indenture”), among other things, limit the Company’s ability to incur indebtedness; to pay dividends or make other distributions; to make certain investments and other restricted payments; to create liens; to consolidate, merge, sell or otherwise dispose of all or substantially all of its assets; to incur restrictions on the ability of a subsidiary to pay dividends or make other payments; and to enter into certain transactions with its affiliates. There are certain exceptions to the limitations on our ability to incur indebtedness under the 2024 Notes Indenture and the 2026 Notes Indenture, including IRU agreements incurred in the normal course of business and any additional indebtedness if (i) under the 2024 Notes Indenture, our consolidated leverage ratio, as defined in 2024 Notes Indenture, is less than 6.0 to 1.0 and (ii) under the 2026 Notes Indenture, either our consolidated leverage ratio, as defined in 2026 Notes Indenture, is less than 6.0 to 1.0 or our fixed charge coverage ratio, as defined in the 2026 Notes Indenture, is greater than 2.0 to 1.0. We can also incur unlimited liens (which can be used, together with capacity under the debt covenant, to incur additional secured indebtedness) if our consolidated secured leverage ratio, as defined in each of the 2024 Notes Indenture and the 2026 Notes Indenture, is less than 4.0 to 1.0. The 2024 Notes Indenture permits restricted payments, such as dividends and stock purchases, using accumulated consolidated cash flow, as defined in the 2024 Notes indenture, when our consolidated leverage ratio, as defined by the 2024 Notes Indenture, is less than 4.25 to 1.00. Under the 2026 Notes Indenture, such accumulated consolidated cash flow, as defined therein, can be used to make such restricted payments if we are able to incur $1 of debt, as defined (i.e., either its consolidated leverage ratio is less than 6.0 to 1.0 or our fixed charge coverage ratio is greater than 2.0 to 1.0). Our consolidated leverage ratio was above 4.25 as of December 31, 2021, and our fixed charge coverage ratio was above 2.0 as of December 31, 2021. As of December 31, 2021, a total of $185.5 million was unrestricted and permitted for restricted payments including dividends and stock purchases.

Summarized Financial Information of Holdings

Holdings is a guarantor under the 2024 and 2026 Notes. Under the indentures we are required to disclose financial information of Holdings including its assets, liabilities and its operating results (“Holdings Financial Information”). The Holdings Financial Information as of and for the year ended December 31, 2021 is detailed below (in thousands).

    

December 31, 2021

(Unaudited)

Cash and cash equivalents

$

147,442

Accrued interest receivable

 

2

Total assets

$

147,444

Investment from subsidiaries

$

410,113

Common stock

 

48

Accumulated deficit

 

(262,717)

Total equity

$

147,444

Year Ended

    

December 31, 2021

(Unaudited)

Equity‑based compensation expense

$

30,044

Interest income

 

101

Net loss

$

(29,943)

Common Stock Buyback Program

Our Board of Directors has approved through December 31, 2022, purchases of our common stock under a buyback program (the “Buyback Program”). We purchased 79,056 shares of our common stock for $4.5 million during the year ended December 31, 2020 at an average price per share of $56.85. There were no purchases of common stock during the years ended December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2019. As of December 31, 2021 there was a total of $30.4 million available under the Buyback Program.

Dividends on Common Stock

Dividends are recorded as a reduction to retained earnings. Dividends on unvested restricted shares of common stock are paid as the awards vest. Our initial quarterly dividend payment was made in the third quarter of 2012. On February 23, 2022, our Board of Directors approved the payment of our quarterly dividend of $0.855 per common share. The dividend for the first quarter of 2022 will be paid to holders of record on March 11, 2022. This estimated $39.7 million dividend payment is expected to be made on March 25, 2022.

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The payment of any future dividends and any other returns of capital, including stock buybacks, will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors and may be reduced, eliminated or increased and will be dependent upon our financial position, results of operations, available cash, cash flow, capital requirements, limitations under our debt indentures and other factors deemed relevant by the our Board of Directors. We are a Delaware Corporation and under the General Corporate Law of the State of Delaware distributions may be restricted including a restriction that distributions, including stock purchases and dividends, do not result in an impairment of a corporation’s capital, as defined under Delaware Law. The indentures governing our notes limit our ability to return cash to our stockholders. See Note 4 to our consolidated financial statements for additional discussion of limitations on distributions.

Future Capital Requirements

We believe that our cash on hand and cash generated from our operating activities will be adequate to meet our working capital, capital expenditure, debt service, dividend payments and other cash requirements for the next twelve months if we execute our business plan.

Any future acquisitions or other significant unplanned costs or cash requirements in excess of amounts we currently hold may require that we raise additional funds through the issuance of debt or equity. We cannot assure you that such financing will be available on terms acceptable to us or our stockholders, or at all. Insufficient funds may require us to delay or scale back the number of buildings and markets that we add to our network, reduce our planned increase in our sales and marketing efforts, or require us to otherwise alter our business plan or take other actions that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. If issuing equity securities raises additional funds, substantial dilution to existing stockholders may result.

We may need to or elect to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness at or before maturity and we cannot provide assurances that we will be able to refinance any such indebtedness on commercially reasonable terms or at all. In addition, we may elect to secure additional capital in the future, at acceptable terms, to improve our liquidity or fund acquisitions or for general corporate purposes. In addition, in an effort to reduce future cash interest payments as well as future amounts due at maturity or to extend debt maturities, we may, from time to time, issue new debt, enter into debt for debt, or cash transactions to purchase our outstanding debt securities in the open market or through privately negotiated transactions. We will evaluate any such transactions in light of the existing market conditions. The amounts involved in any such transaction, individually or in the aggregate, may be material.

Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

We do not have relationships with unconsolidated entities or financial partnerships, such as entities often referred to as structured finance or special purpose entities, which would have been established for the purpose of facilitating off-balance sheet arrangements or other contractually narrow or limited purposes. In addition, we do not engage in trading activities involving non-exchange traded contracts. As such, we are not materially exposed to any financing, liquidity, market or credit risk that could arise if we had engaged in these relationships.

Income Taxes

Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code in the United States limits the utilization of net operating losses when ownership changes, as defined by that section, occur. We have performed an analysis of our Section 382 ownership changes and have determined that the utilization of certain of our net operating loss carryforwards in the United States is limited.

Critical Accounting Policies and Significant Estimates

Our discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations are based upon our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States. The preparation of these financial statements requires us to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenue and expenses, and the related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.

The accounting policies we believe to be most critical to understanding our financial results and condition or that require complex, significant and subjective management judgments are discussed below.

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Finance Lease Obligations

We record assets and liabilities under finance leases at the lesser of the present value of the aggregate future minimum lease payments or the fair value of the assets under lease. We establish the number of renewal option periods used in determining the lease term, if any, based upon our assessment at the inception of the lease of the number of option periods for which failure to renew the lease imposes a penalty on us in such amount that renewal appears to be reasonably certain. Useful lives are determined based on historical usage with consideration given to technological changes and trends in the industry that could impact the asset utilization. We estimate the fair value of leased assets primarily using estimated replacement cost data for similar assets. We determine the incremental borrowing rate for each lease using our current borrowing rate adjusted for various factors including the level of collateralization and term to align with the term of the lease.

ITEM 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

We are exposed to certain market risks. These risks, which include interest rate risk and foreign currency exchange risk, arise in the normal course of business rather than from trading activities.

Interest Rate Risk

Interest Expense and Restricted Cash

Our cash flow exposure due to changes in interest rates related to our 2024 Notes is limited as our 2024 Notes have a fixed interest rate. Beginning in August 2021 we used a derivative financial instrument to manage our interest rate risk on our 2026 Notes. As of December 31, 2021, we were counterparty to our Swap Agreement that has the economic effect of modifying our fixed-interest rate obligation associated with our 2026 Notes to a variable interest rate obligation based on SOFR. The Swap Agreement is recorded at its fair value at each reporting period and we incur gains and losses due to changes in market interest rates. The values that we report for the Swap Agreement as of each reporting date are recognized as additional non-cash interest expense or a reduction to interest expense with the corresponding amount included in liabilities or assets, respectively, in our consolidated balance sheets. By entering into this Swap Agreement, we have assumed the risk associated with variable interest rates based upon SOFR related to our 2026 Notes. We have not entered into hedge agreements related to our 2024 Notes and we do not use derivative financial instruments for trading purposes. We have a $20.0 million interest-bearing deposit with the counterparty to the Swap Agreement. If the fair value of the Swap Agreement exceeds a net liability of $20.0 million, we will be required to deposit additional funds with the counterparty equal to the net liability that is in excess of $20.0 million. As of December 31, 2021, the fair value of the Swap Agreement was a net liability of $9.0 million, as a result, $9.0 million of the $20.0 million deposit was restricted and $11.0 million was unrestricted. A 1.0% change in interest rates as of December 31, 2021 would impact our interest expense related to our Swap Agreement by approximately $20.4 million.

Interest Income

Our interest income is sensitive to changes in the general level of interest rates. However, based upon the nature and current level of our investments, which consist of cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash, we believe that there is no material interest rate exposure related to our investments.

Foreign Currency Exchange Risk

Our operations outside of the United States and our 2024 Notes expose us to potentially unfavorable adverse movements in foreign currency rate changes. We have not entered into forward exchange contracts related to our foreign currency exposure. While we record financial results and assets and liabilities from our international operations in the functional currency, which is generally the local currency, these results are reflected in our consolidated financial statements in US dollars. Therefore, our reported results are exposed to fluctuations in the exchange rates between the US dollar and the local currencies, in particular the Euro and the Canadian dollar. In addition, we may fund certain cash flow requirements of our international operations including our interest and principal payment obligations, while due in Euros, on our 2024 notes primarily in US dollars. Accordingly, in the event that the local currencies strengthen versus the US dollar to a greater extent than planned, the revenues, expenses and cash flow requirements associated with our international operations may be significantly higher in US-dollar terms than planned. During the year ended December 31, 2021, our foreign activities accounted for 25.5% of our consolidated revenue. A 1.0% change in foreign exchange rates would impact our consolidated annual revenue by approximately $1.2 million. A 1% change in foreign exchange rates as of December 31, 2021 would impact the reported value of our 2024 Notes by approximately $4.0 million. Changes in foreign currency rates could adversely and materially affect our operating results and cash flow.

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ITEM 8. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA

    

Page

Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm (PCAOB ID: 42)

36

Consolidated Balance Sheets as of December 31, 2021 and 2020

38

Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income for Each of the Three Years Ended December 31, 2021

39

Consolidated Statements of Changes in Stockholders’ Equity (Deficit) for Each of the Three Years Ended December 31, 2021

40

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for Each of the Three Years Ended December 31, 2021

41

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

42

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Report of Ernst & Young LLP, Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

To the Shareholders and the Board of Directors of Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc.

Opinion on the Financial Statements

We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc. and subsidiaries (the Company) as of December 31, 2021 and 2020, the related consolidated statements of comprehensive income, shareholders’ equity (deficit) and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2021, and the related notes and financial statement schedule listed in the Index at Item 15(a)2 (collectively referred to as the “consolidated financial statements”). In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company at December 31, 2021 and 2020, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2021, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (PCAOB), the Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2021, based on criteria established in Internal Control—Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (2013 framework) and our report dated February 25, 2022 expressed an unqualified opinion thereon.

Basis for Opinion

These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s financial statements based on our audits. We are a public accounting firm registered with the PCAOB and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.

We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. Our audits included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion

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Critical Audit Matter

The critical audit matters communicated below are matters arising from the current period audit of the financial statements that were communicated or required to be communicated to the audit committee and that: (1) relate to accounts or disclosures that are material to the financial statements and (2) involved our especially challenging, subjective, or complex judgments. The communication of critical audit matters does not alter in any way our opinion on the consolidated financial statements, taken as a whole, and we are not, by communicating the critical audit matters below, providing separate opinions on the critical audit matters or on the accounts or disclosures to which they relate.

    

Determining the presentation and disclosure requirements for Indefeasible Right of Use Lease Assets and Liabilities

Description of the Matter

As described in Notes 1 and 2 to the consolidated financial statements, as of December 31, 2021, the Company has $275.4 million and $245.9 million of indefeasible right of use (IRU) finance lease assets, net, and liabilities, respectively, and recorded $50.8 million of IRU finance lease assets and liabilities additions during the year ended December 31, 2021. The Company makes certain judgments and estimates to determine whether a lease is classified as an operating lease versus a financing lease at the lease commencement date.

Auditing the classification of IRU lease agreements involved subjectivity due to the application of judgment in management’s determination of the economic life of the underlying asset (the optical fiber) because there is relatively limited publicly available information about the optical fiber market on which to base those judgements. Changes in this assumption may have a material effect on the presentation and disclosure of the Company’s leasing activities within the financial statements due to the volume of the IRU lease agreements executed each period.

How We Addressed the Matter in Our Audit

We tested the design and operating effectiveness of the Company’s controls over the process to determine the economic life of the underlying asset (the optical fiber) of the IRU leases.

To test the classification of IRU lease agreements, our audit procedures included among others, assessing the Company’s assumptions by evaluating industry practices in estimating the economic life of optical fiber, compared to those assumptions selected by management.

/s/ Ernst & Young LLP

We have served as the Company’s auditor since 2002

Tysons, VA

February 25, 2022

Page 37 of 70

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COGENT COMMUNICATIONS HOLDINGS, INC., AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2021 AND 2020

(IN THOUSANDS, EXCEPT SHARE AND PER SHARE DATA)

   

2021

    

2020

Assets

Current assets:

Cash and cash equivalents

$

319,609

$

371,301

Restricted cash

9,015

Accounts receivable, net of allowance for credit losses of $1,510 and $1,921, respectively

 

41,938

44,185

Prepaid expenses and other current assets

 

39,015

40,851

Total current assets

 

409,577

456,337

Property and equipment:

Property and equipment

 

1,619,515

1,515,867

Accumulated depreciation and amortization

 

(1,161,635)

(1,085,532)

Total property and equipment, net

 

457,880

430,335

Right-of-use leased assets

101,687

99,666

Deposits and other assets

 

15,413

14,139

Total assets

$

984,557

$

1,000,477

Liabilities and stockholders’ equity

Current liabilities:

Accounts payable

$

11,923

$

9,775

Accrued and other current liabilities

 

39,057

51,029

Current maturities, operating lease liabilities

12,197

11,151

Installment payment agreement, current portion, net of discount of $6 and $136, respectively

785

6,786

Finance lease obligations, current maturities

 

17,048

15,702

Total current liabilities

 

81,010

94,443

Senior secured 2022 notes, net of unamortized debt costs of $1,052 and including premium of $544

444,492

Senior unsecured 2024 Euro notes, net of unamortized debt costs of $2,121 and $2,961, respectively and net of discount of $772 and $1,142, respectively

394,112

425,160

Senior unsecured 2026 notes, net of unamortized debt costs of $1,156 and discount of $1,536

 

497,308

Operating lease liabilities, net of current maturities

111,794

111,318

Finance lease obligations, net of current maturities

 

228,822

203,438

Other long-term liabilities

 

44,609

14,792

Total liabilities

 

1,357,655

1,293,643

Commitments and contingencies

Stockholders’ equity:

Common stock, $0.001 par value; 75,000,000 shares authorized; 47,674,189 and 47,214,077 shares issued and outstanding, respectively

 

48

47

Additional paid-in capital

 

547,734

515,867

Accumulated other comprehensive loss

 

(11,003)

(1,306)

Accumulated deficit

 

(909,877)

(807,774)

Total stockholders’ deficit

 

(373,098)

(293,166)

Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity

$

984,557

$

1,000,477

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated balance sheets.

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COGENT COMMUNICATIONS HOLDINGS, INC., AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME

FOR EACH OF THE THREE YEARS ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2021

(IN THOUSANDS, EXCEPT SHARE AND PER SHARE DATA)

    

2021

    

2020

    

2019

Service revenue

$

589,797

$

568,103

$

546,159

Operating expenses:

Network operations (including $2,521, $1,219 and $994 of equity-based compensation expense, respectively), exclusive of amounts shown separately

 

226,337

219,157

219,801

Selling, general, and administrative (including $24,301, $22,306 and $17,466 of equity-based compensation expense, respectively)

 

162,380

158,476

146,913

Depreciation and amortization

 

89,240

83,477

80,247

Total operating expenses

 

477,957

461,110

446,961

Gains on equipment transactions

18

352

1,059

Gains (losses) on lease terminations

 

7,375

 

(423)

 

Operating income

119,233

106,922

100,257

Interest expense

 

(67,074)

(62,486)

(57,453)

Realized foreign exchange gain on 2024 Euro Notes

2,533

Unrealized foreign exchange gain (loss) on 2024 Euro Notes

32,522

(36,997)

2,271

Loss on debt extinguishment and redemption – 2021 Notes

(638)

Loss on debt extinguishment and redemption – 2022 Notes

(14,698)

Interest income and other

1,437

978

7,599

Income before income taxes

 

71,420

10,312

52,674

Income tax expense

 

(23,235)

(4,096)

(15,154)

Net income

$

48,185

$

6,216

$

37,520

Comprehensive income:

Net income

$

48,185

$

6,216

$

37,520

Foreign currency translation adjustment

 

(9,697)

11,020

(1,398)

Comprehensive income

$

38,488

$

17,236

$

36,122

Basic net income per common share

$

1.04

$

0.14

$

0.82

Diluted net income per common share

$

1.03

$

0.13

$

0.81

Dividends declared per common share

$

3.17

$

2.78

$

2.44

Weighted-average common shares-basic

46,419,180

45,947,772

45,542,315

Weighted-average common shares -diluted

 

46,963,920

46,668,198

46,080,395

The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated statements.

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Table of Contents

COGENT COMMUNICATIONS HOLDINGS, INC., AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CHANGES IN STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY (DEFICIT)

FOR EACH OF THE THREE YEARS ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2021

(IN THOUSANDS, EXCEPT SHARE AMOUNTS)

Accumulated

Additional

Other

Total

Common Stock

Paid-in

Comprehensive

Accumulated

Stockholder’s

    

Shares

    

Amount

    

Capital

    

Income (Loss)

    

Deficit

    

Equity (Deficit)

Balance at December 31, 2018

 

46,336,499

$

46

$

471,331

$

(10,928)

$

(609,451)

$

(149,002)

Forfeitures of shares granted to employees

 

(12,632)

 

 

 

 

 

Equity-based compensation

 

 

 

20,210

 

 

 

20,210

Foreign currency translation

 

 

 

 

(1,398)

 

 

(1,398)

Issuances of common stock

 

473,550

 

1

 

 

 

 

1

Exercises of options

 

43,017

 

 

1,637

 

 

 

1,637

Dividends paid

 

 

 

 

 

(112,647)

 

(112,647)

Net income

 

 

 

 

 

37,520

 

37,520

Balance at December 31, 2019

 

46,840,434

$

47

$

493,178

$

(12,326)

$

(684,578)

$

(203,679)

Forfeitures of shares granted to employees

 

(53,428)

Equity-based compensation

 

25,802

25,802

Foreign currency translation

 

11,020

11,020

Issuances of common stock

 

476,030

Exercises of options

 

30,097

1,382

1,382

Common stock purchases and retirement

(79,056)

(4,495)

(4,495)

Dividends paid

(129,412)

(129,412)

Net income

 

6,216

6,216

Balance at December 31, 2020

 

47,214,077

$

47

$

515,867

$

(1,306)

$

(807,774)

$

(293,166)

Forfeitures of shares granted to employees

 

(47,436)

Equity-based compensation

 

30,044

30,044

Foreign currency translation

 

(9,697)

(9,697)

Issuances of common stock

 

471,080

1

1

Exercises of options

 

36,468

1,823

1,823

Common stock purchases and retirement

Dividends paid

 

(150,288)

(150,288)

Net income

 

48,185

48,185

Balance at December 31, 2021

47,674,189

$

48

$

547,734

$

(11,003)

$

(909,877)

$

(373,098)

Page 40 of 70

Table of Contents

COGENT COMMUNICATIONS HOLDINGS, INC., AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS

FOR EACH OF THE THREE YEARS ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2021

(IN THOUSANDS)

    

2021

    

2020

    

2019

Cash flows from operating activities:

Net income

$

48,185

$

6,216

$

37,520

Adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash provided by operating activities:

Depreciation and amortization

 

89,240

83,477

80,247

Amortization of debt discount and premium

 

1,759

1,894

1,807

Equity-based compensation expense (net of amounts capitalized)

 

26,822

23,525

18,460

Unrealized foreign currency exchange loss (gain) on 2024 Euro Notes

(32,522)

36,997

(2,271)

Realized foreign currency exchange gain on 2024 Euro Notes

(2,533)

Loss on extinguishment & redemption of 2022 notes

14,698

Loss on extinguishment & redemption of 2021 notes

638

Gain – lease termination

(7,375)

Gains—equipment transactions and other, net

69

(546)

(358)

Deferred income taxes

18,159

282

12,158

Changes in operating assets and liabilities:

Accounts receivable

 

1,385

(2,702)

1,067

Prepaid expenses and other current assets

 

(17)

(2,771)

(3,730)

Deposits and other assets

 

(12)

(873)

(1,131)

Accounts payable, accrued liabilities and other long-term liabilities

9,866