Ahead of next month's fourth quarter earnings, Windstream touted its 2019 broadband achievements this week. Windstream announced it had delivered faster broadband connections to about 1.3 million locations last year. It also met its goal to expand its Kinetic Business 1-Gig Fiber Internet to 100,000 business locations while also deploying its fiber-based Kinetic Internet service to 100,000 locations.
Including other broadband technologies, Windstream said it also boosted speeds to another 1.1 million locations. The broadband build-out represented a total investment of roughly $400 million. Windstream said its Kinetic Internet consumer subscriber base has grown over the past two years, which a net addition of more than 28,000 customers last year.
"We utilized a variety of access methods to upgrade speeds to our base in 2019," said Brent Williams, SVP of Kinetic Engineering and Implementation, in an email to FierceTelecom. "FTTP, DOCSIS utilizing our existing coax plants, fixed Wireless, and traditional xDSL by copper loop shortening."
For the fiber-to-the premise (FTTP) deployments, Williams said Windstream is utilizing GPON. For the fiber build outs, he said Windstream continues to utilize a variety of outside plant fiber vendors as well as xPON vendors, but didn't name the vendors.
"Our deployments have increasingly focused more on FTTP," he said. "We continue to deploy fiber to the node or hub where FTTP is cost prohibitive and utilize existing copper plant (loop shortening)."
Aside of fiber, Windstream's 2019 investments included fixed wireless, cable internet and "other network equipment enhancements" to deliver broadband speeds of 25 Mbps to 300 Mpbs, with most locations "qualifying" for 100 Mbps or higher.
Windstream hasn't said what its 2020 fiber and broadband plans include, but some of that information could be forthcoming during its fourth quarter and full-year earnings call on Feb. 20.
In November's third quarter, Windstream grew its Kinetic broadband customer base for the sixth consecutive quarter, adding 5,700 new subscribers compared to 1,900 net adds in the previous quarter. Windstream's Kinetic broadband service revenues were $506 million compared to $525 million in the same period a year ago. Little Rock, Ark.-based Windstream's adjusted total revenue and sales were $1.27 billion in the third quarter, which was down from $1.38 billion in the same quarter a year ago.
Earlier this week, Windstream Wholesale announced it was teaming with Infinera to add 1,000 miles of long-haul fiber for a route that serves the Pacific Northwest.
Windstream Holdings is continuing its battle against former spinoff Uniti Group, as well as other stakeholders. Barring successful, last minute negotiations, Windstream and Uniti will move forward with a trial starting on March 2 with Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
Last 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 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.
Windstream is paying $54 million per month to Uniti, which is a real estate investment trust, 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.