Windstream's fiber-based data center drive could be boon for Dycom, other installers

Windstream's days as a classic data center operator may be over, but the service provider's move to equip other data center providers with fiber could spell new opportunities for network installers.

As Windstream brings fiber to more data centers, network construction companies like Dycom, Henkels & McCoy and other installation-related companies that are looking to ramp their revenues will have a new set of projects to pursue. 

As a competitive provider, having its own fiber in data centers gives Windstream a weapon to compete against the emergence of new dark fiber providers such as Cleareon entering these facilities.

"Having your own fiber for both data centers as well as on-net buildings allows you to have owner's economics," said Jeff Brown, director of product marketing and product management for Windstream Carrier Solutions, in an interview with FierceInstaller. "You can be more aggressive in doing your marketing, but also bring back greater margins, which is not an issue for the wholesale group."

Besides the wholesale group, Windstream's enterprise division has been increasing its on-net building footprint by installing fiber in key metro markets such as Nashville, the Richmond, Virginia, area as well as Charlotte, North Carolina. Additional fiber network expansions are also planned for Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia for 2016.

Brown said that "the enterprise group has tried to sell more on-net services so the overall business will become more profitable."

By installing its own fiber into data centers, including 365 Data Centers and QTS, Windstream can control the quality of experience it can give to its wholesale service provider customers and their end customers.

The fiber-based connection will be able to support a mix of higher speed Ethernet and increasingly optical wavelength services that enterprises are demanding.

"For us, this entire initiative is on-net own fiber to anticipate the kind of bandwidth that requires fiber," Brown said. "Customers can order services in smaller increments, but in a lot of those data centers we're equipping them for larger type bandwidth services like wavelength services that customers are starting to order more commonly on the enterprise side."

The service provider has extended fiber to over 50 carrier neutral hotels, with plans to conduct further expansions throughout the remainder of 2016 and into 2017.

"We're currently at 50-plus and counting as far as major carrier neutral third party data centers, which is in addition to some traditional carrier hotels, but that program has been progressing for a while," Brown said. "We'll probably announce some agreements with some other large providers as the year goes on."

In addition to signing more data center connection deals, Brown said it is also important to "have focused marketing campaigns to jointly reach out to the tenants in those data centers to let them know what types of solutions we have to offer."

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