Windstream adds 1,000 long-haul fiber miles; gets approval for executive bonuses

Windstream Wholesale is working with Infinera to add 1,000 miles of long-haul fiber for a route that serves the Pacific Northwest. (Pixabay)

Windstream Wholesale is teaming up with Infinera to add 1,000 miles of long-haul fiber for a route that serves the Pacific Northwest.

On a separate note, last week a federal judge approved close to $19 million in bonuses for Windstream's executive team as it continues to work through its Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

On the fiber front, Windstream Wholesale is using Infinera’s FlexILS line to provision a route from Salt Lake City to Portland and Seattle. The additional fiber will provide redundant, low-latency connectivity to markets in the Pacific Northwest. As part of an ongoing effort to boost its long-haul network, Windstream also announced it has increased the capacity of several major routes to 48 terabits per second.

The overlay is also powered by Infinera’s FlexILS line system. The flexible grid-compliant open optical line system features C+L-band support and colorless-directionless-contentionless (CDC) ROADM.

Windstream Wholesale previously announced an overlay of its Dallas to Atlanta route. It is in the process of upgrading additional high-demand routes with the latest Infinera technology.

Judge approves incentive plan

Last week, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain approved Windstream’s 2020 executive incentive plan, according to a story by Channel Partners. According to Channel Partners, Windstream spokesman David Avery said the court had to approve Windstream's 2020 incentive plan due to its restructuring under Chapter 11. Avery also said that this year's incentives were similar to the performance incentive program used by the company prior it filing for Chapter 11.

The bonus plan approved by Judge Drain included:

• Tony Thomas, Windstream’s president and CEO, could receive up to $9.5 million.

• Robert Gunderman, chief financial officer and treasurer, up to nearly $3.5 million.

• Layne Levine, president of enterprise, up to nearly $2.3 million.

• Jeffery Small, president of Kinetic, more than $2.1 million.

• Kristi Moody, executive vice president-general counsel and corporate secretary, more than $1.4 million.

In February, Windstream lost a legal battle with New York hedge fund Aurelius Capital Management over whether Windstream had defaulted on bonds by spinning off the Uniti Group four years ago. As part of that spinoff, Windstream transferred copper-based network assets to Uniti, which Windstream leased back from Uniti to serve its 1.4 million residential and business customers across its 18-state footprint.

After the February ruling, Windstream filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York that same month.

RELATED: Windstream and Uniti drill down on settling lease terms—Bloomberg

Windstream is paying $54 million per month to Uniti for access to Uniti's network assets. The master lease with Uniti is set to expire in 2030, and has an annual rent of approximately $659 million. Windstream filed a complaint against Uniti on July 25 that sought to re-characterize its relationship with Uniti from a lease to a financing arrangement.

RELATED: As it marches through Chapter 11, Windstream Holdings sees its revenues slide in 3Q

In its November third quarter earnings report, Windstream Holding's revenues were down across the board. Little Rock, Ark.-based Windstream's adjusted total revenue and sales were $1.27 billion in the quarter, which was down from $1.38 billion in the same quarter a year ago. After earning $1.4 billion in the second quarter of 2018, Windstream posted $1.29 billion in total revenue and sales during its second quarter earnings report.