Consolidated ramps up its business services strategy with Ethernet

With the integration of SureWest well underway, Consolidated Communications (Nasdaq: CNSL) has set a goal of advancing its business service set to extend into the Sacramento, Calif. and Kansas City areas it entered through that deal.

Leveraging a mix of internal and external growth methods, Consolidated has set itself on a path to transform from being a small town telephone provider to a service provider delivering IP-based services for consumers and business customers.  

Similar to its previous acquisitions like Texas-based TXU and North Pittsburgh Systems Inc., last July's SureWest acquisition is another element in expanding its next-gen service vision.

"You would not necessarily plan to be in the geographies we are in, but what we have seen in our desire to transition our business from a traditional telephone business of 30 years ago to a broadband company, we identified through history organic facility deployment, market expansion opportunities as well as acquisitions that helped us to expand our broadband service opportunities across our consumer, business, and wholesale customer groups," said Bob Udell, chief operating officer of Consolidated, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "SureWest was a perfect fit for that."

A key element that SureWest and the Everest assets it purchased in 2007 will help Consolidated with will be in expanding its business services reach. Similar to other independent telcos, SureWest and Everest extended those facilities to address commercial customers.

"While SureWest was historically more consumer-focused, it has been easy to refocus some of that energy on commercial and wholesale development with a shorter payback lifecycle," Udell said.

Besides network assets, Consolidated appointed Ed Butler, who managed SureWest's sales efforts, to lead its sales operations, for example, in all six states its serves.

Unsurprisingly, a big focus of Consolidated's business drive is focused on Ethernet.

Currently, Consolidated has been growing its fiber and copper-based Metro Ethernet service reach across its ILEC and CLEC territories.

"Even though we started in Ethernet with larger multisite business, it's picking up momentum with more businesses finding that an acceptable platform because it allows us to layer on more user-driven services on top of it," Udell said.

One market where Consolidated has seen success is in Pittsburgh where it began offering a mix of fiber-based Ethernet in addition to Ethernet over Copper (EoC) for smaller businesses that it could make a business case for fiber.

"Ethernet has really reinvigorated our sales force there and our market," Udell said. "We're taking that copper product to our California market this quarter."

Udell added that EoC "gives us a platform to allow small businesses in the sub-$1,000 a month range in spending to integrate voice and data over the same broadband connection and layer on data services and move into the cloud service product line without making it an exclusive business focus of ours."

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