At first blush, it might be easy to ask why we would be naming Windstream to the list, which has for much of its independent ILEC been a competitive telecom leader. But the service provider has emerged as a competitive business and wholesale telecom provider as well.
Key to making that transformation happen has been a targeted M&A strategy to purchase assets that will help transform the wireline-centric provider from the local telephone provider into a service provider that's focused on broadband and IP.
Seeing that its future is in IP and broadband-based services, Jeff Gardner, president and CEO, drove Windstream into the competitive telecom race by acquiring competitive provider NuVox and more recently Q-Comm, a package deal that includes both a fiber provider (KDL) and a CLEC (Norlight Telecom), they have clearly become a competitive provider on their own.
While Windstream had always had a solid business and wholesale service focus, the acquisition NuVox and, more recently, Q-Comm have advanced both domains with well established and complementary assets.
Through NuVox, Windsteam gained about 90,000 business customers in what it calls "complementary markets." In addition to gaining a wide range of customers and network technology, Gardner said the real gem asset is its sales force.
"While business market is still a little bit soft, we have seen nice improvements in sales," Gardner said in a recent interview with FierceTelecom. "The reason why we bought NuVox is that we thought they had a very aggressive sales force were well positioned to grow top line revenue and I think we're seeing that. In a tough economy, we have been able to put up some of the best what I call CLEC numbers or enterprise numbers in the industry."
No less important is its acquisition of Q-Comm. Like NuVox, the acquisition of Out of the deal, Windstream not only got a CLEC (Norlight), but it instantly expanded its fiber footprint in complementary markets through Kentucky Data Link (KDL).
Heralding in a new era of fiber asset consolidation, KDL will be able to gain more fiber to power up new business accounts.
"KDL was a company that we had looked for a while in that they had fiber assets that were complementary to our existing footprint and also had a good success in the fiber to the cell site area, which has been very active as wireless carriers have been looking for more bandwidth, carry wireless data in particular. It was a perfect fit for us and in terms of that we get Norlight along with it."
Going into the rest of 2010 and 2011, the obvious challenge for Gardner and his team will be integrating these assets and maintaining customer happiness.