Windstream’s Kinetic Wholesale division connected 354 wireless macro towers to its fiber network in Q2 2021, with the company hinting cell site densification for 5G could fuel many more such connections over the coming years.
Kinetic Wholesale SVP Marc Dyman told Fierce the quarterly tower figure represents a “noteworthy increase” both year-over-year and sequentially. He added it is currently seeing the fastest growth in tower connections in Georgia, Kentucky and Nebraska, but declined to disclose what operators are driving that activity.
The operator is in the early stages of a five-year $2 billion project to expand rural fiber coverage across its 18-state footprint. In a press release, the company said this initiative puts it in prime position to deliver 10G capabilities for cell-site backhaul as mobile operators densify their networks for 5G.
Dyman noted “tower connections are part of the Kinetic Wholesale focus and we have dedicated resources to support and grow this business.” He added its planned network expansion “will assist in providing readily available, low cost buildouts in our ILEC footprint for cell site backhaul.”
In November 2020, the company teamed with Ciena to upgrade its fiber-to-the-tower infrastructure using the vendor’s 10-gig and 100-gig capable 3928 and 5170 Platforms. At the time, Windstream said the move would enable it to meet increased demand for bandwidth and support 5G infrastructure.
Providing an update, Dyman said Kinetic Wholesale “continues to see the push for services to move to 10G.” He added “we are seeing most connections currently moving to 1G or more with plans of becoming 10G capable in the next 2 to 3 years.”
As a private company, Windstream no longer holds public earnings calls but it does provide periodic business updates via press release. In March, the company announced its wholesale division added 60,000 new locations to its footprint in Q1 2021, though did not break out whether any of these were macro towers.
ABI Research recently forecast the global number of fiber links used for mobile backhaul will grow from 3 million in 2021 to 7.3 million in 2027. It tipped fiber to be used for 4.3 million macro backhaul links in 2027.