Alabama residents sue Windstream to get higher wireline broadband speeds

A number of Windstream's customers in Alabama aren't happy about the wireline DSL speeds they are getting from Windstream, and they are suing the company in the hopes the telco will respond by upgrading its wireline infrastructure.

In St. Clair County, three lawyers are collaborating with the goal of motivating Windstream to upgrade its infrastructure in these areas, stemming from complaints residents have had about the service they get today.  

A number of users in Broadband DSL Reports' User Reviews site say that many customers have reported they can't even get 1 Mbps DSL speeds.

Michael Teague, a Windstream spokesman, told St. Clair News-Aegis that the lines in the area were never upgraded with next-gen technology such as ADSL2+ or VDSL2 because of the belief that more consumers would just use their wireless devices as the primary means to get Internet services. Being a wireline-centric provider itself, Windstream capitalized on the 4G LTE buildout boom by building out fiber to cell towers in its service area to provide wireless backhaul services.

What changed in the home was the advent Wi-Fi and the growing consumer appetite for streaming video services such as Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Hulu.

"Industry-wide, we found people still want that broadband delivered to their homes so they can stream multiple devices wirelessly," said Teague. "It created a kind of shift in the thinking, and it's come back around."

With much of the fiber-to-the-tower (FTTT) projects completed, Windstream's new President and CEO Tony Thomas is already moving to improve the company's broadband status.

The first move it made was to spin off its wireline assets into a real estate investment trust (REIT), which now operates as Communications Sales and Leasing (CS&L).

Teague said that the telco has completed 15 network improvement projects in St. Clair County since January 2014, and the company has 32 more upgrades planned by the end of the year, "barring any unforeseen circumstances."

Thomas has been making broadband overall a priority for the company, launching a strategy to drive fiber deeper into its last mile network to enable VDSL2 services. During the first quarter 2015 call, Thomas said reached 200,000 customers in its ILEC territory with VDSL2.

By shortening the loop lengths of its copper network with the VDSL2+ rollout, Windstream will be able to deliver 10 Mbps to 83 percent of its footprint and 24 Mbps and above to 50 percent of addressable households.

But VDSL2 is just one element in Windstream's broadband strategy.

Thomas told investors during the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in May it will launch 1 Gbps service over a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network in one market this year, with the potential to reach five. To reach that goal it would leverage existing fiber it had installed in newer housing developments in its territory.

For more:
- Broadband DSL Reports has this article
- St. Clair News-Aegis has this article

Related articles:
Windstream's Thomas: We'll launch 1 Gbps service in all our markets
Windstream reaches 200,000 users with VDSL2, sees further broadband growth opportunities
Windstream, CWA reach tentative agreement covering 250 workers in Kentucky
Windstream to increase on-net fiber footprint in 5 markets in 2015