Windstream, Transbeam find fixed wireless enhances Ethernet installation times, network footprint

Windstream and Transbeam have found that by using broadband wireless, the two providers can immediately enhance their Ethernet footprint while cutting installation times at customer sites that need immediate bandwidth.  

By adding broadband wireless to their portfolios, these service providers can immediately expand their portfolios to include a broader set of access options with a service that offers faster installation and turn up intervals.

Being a traditional ILEC and CLEC with wireline assets, Windstream dipped its toe in the broadband wireless market when it purchased Business Only Broadband which delivers a mix of wireless-based Ethernet and MPLS-based services.

Initially covering four markets -- Chicago, New York City, northern New Jersey and Milwaukee -- Windstream has since extended the fixed wireless service to Boston and Philadelphia.

Mike Kozlowski, VP of product management at Windstream, told FierceInstaller that while it will continue to build out fiber where it makes sense, fixed wireless has become a key complement to its fiber and copper networks.

"The way we're looking at our market strategies in terms of building fiber is pretty expensive, but fixed wireless affords us an opportunity to create a higher complement for our customers in that we can sell diverse solutions in that you sell on fiber, you sell on fixed wireless," Kozlowski said. "It also allows us from a network approach to edge out the network and not have to build the fiber, bill the revenue and we have EoC, EoTDM, we have fiber fed services and fixed wireless services."

Kozlowski added that this affords us a "lot of solutions that our partners are not going to be able to get to."

That's not to say that Windstream is turning its back on fiber.

Earlier this year, Windstream announced plans to expand its fiber network in Charlotte, N.C., and is planning additional network builds in Tennessee and Virginia. The service provider has been expanding its on-net fiber footprint, adding new facilities in areas like Charlotte, N.C., for example.

Likewise, fellow competitive provider Transbeam sees the value of fixed wireless as being a way to cut installation costs.

Already providing a mix of Ethernet over copper and fiber-based Ethernet, Transbeam can use broadband wireless to address other customer needs.

While Transbeam continues to build out its Ethernet over copper and fiber-based service base, the process of installing fixed wireless building is quicker because Transbeam does not have to dig up streets and run a lateral fiber link into a building. In a new building site that does not have fiber facilities already, it could take 90 to 120 days to install a service like Ethernet.

Alternatively, the installation of fixed wireless could be done in about two weeks after conducting a site survey, getting necessary permits and building access rights.

"Ideally, the installation process if everything works out -- which is never the case -- we can do an install in three days," said Avner Nebel, COO of Transbeam, in an interview with FierceInstaller. "Every installation requires a site survey where we have the technician go out and conduct a line of site test, which takes about three hours to do and the install requires building access, building permission and the actual install takes about 2-3 hours on site."

Nevel added that "sometimes an install could get delayed because of building permits so it could take on the worst case up to two weeks to complete."

If Transbeam has line of sight access between its radio sites, Transbeam can offer bandwidth speeds from 1 Mbps up to 1 Gbps and beyond.

Initially used for backup for wireline sites, Nebel noted that more of Transbeam's customers are using fixed wireless as their main Internet connection.

"It was a natural fit of why don't we put antennas on rooftops and connect it to our core," Nebel said. "What we're seeing is a lot of customers use the fixed wireless as an actual primary circuit rather than a secondary backup."

Transbeam began offering its own fixed wireless solution in the greater New York metro area.

Similar to Windstream, the CLEC said that the service provides two benefits: an alternate high speed Ethernet service delivered through digital microwave technology and shortening install times for its existing data service lineup.

Transbeam has invested in building its own fixed wireless network initially in New York City with additional markets planned in the future. The service will satisfy the needs of enterprise customers that need fast installation times combined with the same characteristics as Transbeam's traditional copper or fiber-based solutions.

While New York is the first market where Transbeam will offer service provider said it plans to offer the service in other markets at a future date.

For more:
- see the Transbeam release

Related articles:
Windstream enhances Ethernet position by expanding on-net fiber, network partnerships
Transbeam: Verizon offers no alternative to NYC copper retirement for EoC providers
Windstream sets business services on growth track as enterprise revenues rise to $498M

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