Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN) is using Ethernet over Copper (EoC) as a way to quickly respond to businesses' higher bandwidth needs in areas where it can't immediately prove out the business case to bring fiber.
Now acting in dual roles as both a CLEC--via its acquisitions of PAETEC and NuVox--and as a traditional Tier 2 ILEC, the telco has set forth a two-pronged EoC strategy.
The first piece of this strategy includes bonded T1s over copper, which enables them to get decent amounts of bandwidth to customers that may be located deep in its CLEC or ILEC network.
Second, Windstream is offering a conventional EoC service over available dry copper pairs. Depending on distance and availability, the telco can deliver in some instances up to 200 Mbps of bandwidth. Of course, speeds vary according to loop lengths and the condition of the copper plant.
"What we really look at from a dry pair perspective is we can serve 20-50 Mbps, and in some instances higher bandwidth," said Bill Bellando, vice president of network services for Windstream. "For our purposes, it depends on distance, condition of the plant, which is a lot of times someone else's so you have to balance that out, but Ethernet over Copper is something we perceive in both a CLEC as well as an ILEC as having some specific purposes."
In areas of its ILEC territory where it can't make the business case to bring a fiber to a particular business--which might want 15 or 20 Mbps--it can quickly turn on EoC.
Bellando says in this case it provides "a quick to market and you get them turned up fast and they are happy."
On the CLEC side, including its own legacy Windstream CLEC operations, NuVox or PAETEC, EoC also provides a foundation to target customers in a downtown area that could reside in a multi-tenant building.
In this instance, they will secure a contract with a local doctor's office, and then target higher speed opportunities with the first customer and others that reside in the same building.
"As their services grow either through organic or through sales and marketing, we'll want to expand to the second doctor's office in a building," Bellando said. "And as we get more customers, we can justify a fiber build then and replace that dry pair technology with fiber."
Although typical EoC speeds vary according to how far a customer is from the CO and the amount of available copper pairs, Bellando argues symmetrical EoC creates customer stickiness.
"When you offer 10-20 Mbps symmetrical service customers have a great experience because it's a lot of bandwidth wholly owned dedicated to that customer," he said. "Our sales and marketing teams hit on the 10 Mbps and above since customers find it is addicting and want more."
Besides using EoC as a business service, Windstream has been using EoC for DSLAM backhaul in the ILEC market. Like other ILECs with copper plant, it had traditionally used a mix of legacy T1 and IMA (Inverse Multiplexing over ATM) connections that provide a maximum of 12-15 Mbps of bandwidth.
As the ILEC migrates its DSLAMs to Ethernet, Bellando said they can take "the same 12 pairs of copper and bond them with Ethernet and get four times the amount of bandwidth out to the DSLAMs."