Windstream's network is holding up to the increased demand related to employees working from home and students not being in school due to COVID-19. Since mid-March, Windstream has seen a 50% increase in its voice traffic and 30% spike in data traffic.
Similar to Verizon and other service providers, Windstream has seen about a 30% increase in VPN usage internally due to remote workforces logging in to their networks from home. In an email to FierceTelecom, Windstream said it has adequate capacity to handle the increase in VPN usage.
"It is important to note that we have Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud linked to our robust security layer that allows staff who do not need access to legacy back-end applications to work over the internet without VPN access," a Windstream spokesman said in the email.
Windstream said those increases were "well within the company's defined network operational tolerances." Cable and telco engineers have been on a mission to build out their bandwidth capacity in the face of 5G, online gaming, augmented and virtual reality and high-definition streaming.
“Our network is well equipped to handle the higher usage given our past modernization efforts that migrated Windstream to scalable, robust equipment and IP/Ethernet services,” said Tony Thomas, president and CEO of Windstream, in a statement. “We fully understand how critical our role as a communications provider is during the coronavirus health crisis, and I’m proud of all that our team members, especially our front-line technicians, are doing to keep our customers connected.”
The network upgrades over the past five or six years have served cable and telco operators well in the face of increased home usage by their subscribers, but the question going forward is how the networks hold up over the next few months. On Sunday, President Donald Trump extended the social distancing guidelines until April 30, and said he expects "great things to be happening" by June 1.
Windstream cited its resilient network architecture as the reason it has been able to stay ahead of the demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. Windstream's services are delivered over multiple platforms, including a nationwide IP network, proprietary cloud core architecture and a local and long-haul fiber network spanning approximately 150,000 route miles.
Windstream also touted its solutions that help employees work from home, including Windstream Enterprises' OfficeSuite UC and HD Meeting applications. Overall OfficeSuite network traffic is running at approximately 50% of capacity.
Windstream Enterprise customers are also reaping the rewards of last year's addition of integrated office communications platform Slack, which is helping remote workforces stay connected. Windstream's business customers can tap into Slack via its Office Suite UC and HD Meeting applications.
To keep pace with the network demands, Windstream has also formed a dedicated team to speed up the delivery of critical services and install additional capacity for its business and wholesale customers.
On last month's fourth quarter earnings call, Windstream executives said they remained focused on exiting their current Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a new capital structure. The company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York a year ago.
Windstream also said that in 2020 it wants to continue to increase the broadband speeds of its Kinetic network, which serves consumers and small businesses, and make strategic investments in that network.