Windstream kicks off 1 Gig trial in Kentucky as next step in deployment plan

Windstream has begun its 1 Gbps FTTH trial in Lexington, Ky., marking the first step of its plans to launch the service in five markets during the first half of 2016.

Besides Lexington, Windstream said it will start offering a 1 Gbps service for residential and small business locations in Lincoln, Neb., Sugar Land, Texas, and Concord and Matthews, N.C.

One of the side benefits of the 1 Gbps service is that Windstream could expand the availability of its Kinetic IPTV service in Lincoln and Lexington. The provider began offering IPTV service in parts of these two markets earlier this year, giving consumers an alternative to cable incumbent Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), which is being purchased by Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR).

News of the 1 Gbps trial in Lexington should not be all that surprising.

Tony Thomas, CEO of Windstream, told investors in November during the Wells Fargo Securities Technology, Media & Telecom Conference that it had plans to begin a 1 Gbps FTTH service trial with plans for a broader rollout to follow in 2016 in markets where it has previously built fiber to homes in November. A key focus of the rollout will be to leverage and extend existing fiber network facilities.

Delivering 1 Gbps is just one element of Windstream's overall broadband expansion initiative. In November, the service provider announced it would expand the availability of 100 Mbps services over its copper network leveraging VDSL2 to over 800 markets, and Project Excel, a $250 million program that will accelerate further upgrades of broadband speeds in more markets.

The program upgrades its fiber-fed DSLAM infrastructure with VDSL2-capable equipment to deliver the higher speeds and a more robust backhaul network.

Overall, the goal of the 1 Gbps trial and the efforts to upgrade its existing copper facilities with VDSL2 is about reversing the declines in its broadband subscriber base.

Although Thomas said the company expects to lose 30,000 basic DSL customers in 2015, the combination of the VDSL2, FTTH, and the second phase of Connect America Fund (CAF-II) funds it accepted from the FCC for rural broadband give it a foundation to grow the broadband base because it can more effectively compete with cable with higher speeds it could not provide before.

For more:
- see the release

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