FairPoint responds to cable challenge by upping northern New England wholesale fiber, Ethernet offerings

FairPoint Communications may be facing increased competition from aggressive cable operators like Comcast Business (NASDAQ: CMCSA) encroaching on its northern New England turf, but the service provider says that the $700 million investment it made over the past seven years gives it the tools to effectively address the region's wholesale and retail services needs.

A key selling point FairPoint is taking to customers is its fiber and copper network assets. The service provider currently has over 16,000 fiber route miles and a large copper-based network that it says can deliver broadband services to about 87 percent of consumers and 95 percent of all businesses in the region.

FairPoint also has a sizeable on-net fiber reach, with direct connections into about 3,000 buildings, meaning businesses in those buildings can access the telco's suite of Ethernet services without having to wait for it to bring facilities to their location.

Over the past year, FairPoint has increased the number of its central offices (COs) that can serve carrier Ethernet services to more than 90 percent.

One of FairPoint's latest developments has been its entry into the data center space. Over the past year, the service provider announced it would offer direct connections to its Ethernet network from two new data centers in Laconia, N.H., and Manchester, N.H.

Earlier this month, the service provider launched a set of data center service applications for wholesale reseller and cloud providers that want to establish an instant presence in northern New England.

But getting into the data center game did not require a wholesale buildout of new facilities. Instead, FairPoint has been converting existing COs into data centers, including sites in Manchester, N.H. FairPoint opened its first data center in Laconia, N.H., in June 2014.

Up next for FairPoint are plans to convert existing central offices into new data centers in both Maine and Vermont, but the company did not specify when it would begin to carry out those plans.

The service provider's efforts appear to be paying off. During the fourth quarter, Ethernet service revenues contributed about $21.5 million of revenue or 9.9 percent of total revenue in the fourth quarter of 2014, up from $18.9 million or 8.9 percent of total revenue in 2013.

As of the end of the quarter, FairPoint had a total of 12,638 Ethernet circuits, up from 11,681 in the third quarter of 2014, with retail and wholesale Ethernet circuits rising to 5,611 and 7,027, respectively.

For more:
- see the release

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