Windstream establishes 9 Ethernet interconnection locations for wholesale customers

Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN) has come up with a way to simplify the way its wholesale Ethernet customers interconnect with them by establishing nine External-Network to Network Interconnection (E-NNI) locations across the United States as part of the company's effort to become what CEO Jeff Gardner calls an enterprise-focused service provider.

The locations include Ephrata, Pa., Hudson, Ohio, Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Newton, Iowa, Dallas, Little Rock, and Lincoln, Neb.

"We have broadened the reach that we have mainly in the mid-U.S. and East Coast with Carrier Ethernet and established those nine E-NNIs locations where it makes easier for folks to interconnect with us," said Rob Anderson, manager of Carrier/Wholesale Product Management for Windstream, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "In the past, it was a question where to meet us and took us quite some time to put together, but now with these nine locations we have an easy way to interconnect."

Supporting the E-NNI locations is a wide set of fiber, copper and TDM network facilities.  

By purchasing Paetec, which included Intellifiber's wholesale and retail operations, Windstream expanded its fiber and Ethernet footprint. The service provider's new E-NNI process is one many elements of its continued integration of the Paetec network and back office assets.

Today, Windstream has 29,000 addresses connected with fiber and 8,500 locations served by Ethernet over Copper. It can also serve another 25,000 locations with Ethernet over TDM-based DS1 and DS3 circuits.

"The idea is that within the 500 mile radius of any of those connections we can serve a carrier customer, and if they establish multiple NNIs with us it really covers the whole country," Anderson said. "The value proposition is that we're trying to work within that 500 mile radius regardless of LATA boundaries so it makes it a lot easier to work with us."

Over the next four to six months, the telco plans to establish six more E-NNI locations in Ashburn, Va., Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Jose.

The Western market in particular is going to be a big area of expansion for Windstream in 2014.

"Things out West are relatively light at this point, so we're waiting until 2014 to see our technical capabilities and projects under the hood come to fruition and put that easy-access plug and play NNI in some of those strategic areas as well," Anderson said.

While Ethernet is the preferred interconnection method, it's not available everywhere. In markets where it or one of its wholesale customers don't have an available Ethernet circuit or an existing presence, Windstream is offering a MPLS aggregation service.

"In areas where we can't do carrier Ethernet or where there isn't a footprint that the carrier partner has with us, we have been pushing MPLS aggregation, which would be like a wholesale MPLS connectoin that aggregates to an NNI," Anderson said. "We're really seeing them sold side by side."

Given the diversity of how service providers deal with Quality of Service and network processes, Windstream and its customers still have to tailor each E-NNI agreement.  

To help ease the interconnection process, the telco has developed a carrier assurance team that provides support to resellers, regional carriers and international carrier customers.

"We recently launched our carrier assurance team, which provides our onboarding white gloves approach," Anderson said. "As soon as those connections are established they are there to help our customers, especially our new customers do business with us and what to expect."

As it expand its wholesale Ethernet capabilities, Windstream is also in the process of obtaining the Metro Ethernet Forum's (MEF) Carrier Ethernet 2.0 certification and Class of Service (CoS) support.

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Updated article on Sept. 26 to say MPLS aggregation.