Windstream to open new Western fiber transport network, address new wholesale, enterprise opportunities

Windstream fiber and 100G wave network as of Oct. 2016, not including its soon-to-be-built express fiber network in the Western U.S. (Screenshot: interactive map)

Windstream is getting ready to make its long-overdue venture into the Western United States, announcing that it will expand its long-haul express fiber network into the region to meet growing wholesale and enterprise customer bandwidth demands.

Jeff Brown, director of product marketing and product management for carrier services at Windstream, said that this build will make it a more attractive choice for customers that want a service provider that can take them into multiple Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. 

“It was very important for us to get to the West Coast because there are certain kinds of companies that only want to consider nationwide providers,” Brown said. “This will enable us to offer those kinds of services and get those kinds of projects.”

Set to be completed next year, Windstream will carry out the network build in two phases.

During the first phase of the network build -- which the service provider said will be completed by the end of the year -- Windstream will add four major markets to its 100G long-haul network: Salt Lake City, Reno, Las Vegas, and the Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay Area.

For the second phase of the project -- expected to be finalized by the end of 2017 -- Windstream will add 100G routes extending from the Bay Area to Los Angeles; Los Angeles to Phoenix; and Phoenix to El Paso. Upon completion, the new routes will add a total of about 4,800 route miles to Windstream’s fiber network, which currently spans more than 125,000 miles.

Brown said the new network gives Windstream additional network facilities that it will own and can better control the customer experience.

“Wholesale and enterprise customers will be able to get access to the entire Windstream network that consists of 1,200 10 Gbps POPs, 800 cities and 400 100G POPs across the network,” Brown said. “Then we should be able to layer on Ethernet and sub rate type services at better cost economics by using our own network.”

To get this network built, Windstream will use a mix of its own metro fiber to connect to data center and other customer sites and establish dark fiber indefeasible rights of use (IRUs) with two carriers for the long-haul routes.

“The new physical fiber builds are mainly focused on a metro builds, including less expensive laterals leveraging our own existing fiber in the ground,” Brown said. “To conduct this type of build all the way to the West Coast would take a number of months so we’re leasing the fiber and lighting services ourselves.”

Brown added that “we will be constructing our own last mile metro on-ramps to get into the popular data centers that we’re targeting within those markets.”

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Wholesale and enterprise customers will be able to access to over 1,200 10G Points of Presence (PoPs) in 800 cities and more than four hundred 100G PoPs in many premier carrier hotels and data centers across the United States.

By building out a fiber network in the Western U.S., Windstream becomes a new option for service providers and content-related companies that need an alternative path to bring their traffic from the Pacific Rim. In particular, Asia-Pacific providers will get access to low-latency, 100G connectivity to Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets across the United States, allowing them to aggressively expand their own market territories.

Windstream could also extend its fiber network to help the growing array of new submarine cable networks being built like the SEA-US cable that has a connection going into California.

However, Brown said that the service provider has not signed any deals to connect its metro fiber to submarine cable providers yet.

“We actually do have four we are present in today plus the cross border that we have in McCallen, Texas,” Brown said. “The nature of our build isn’t directly connecting the existing cable landings in places like San Luis Obispo, but we might partner with someone there and there are a number of new cables coming into Los Angeles.”

The planned West Coast build is part of a broader fiber expansion initiative Windstream has embarked upon in its effort to become more of a facilities-based provider.

Besides the West Coast, the service provider announced similar extensions of its long-haul core network into Miami and from Denver to Chicago and Dallas.

As part of these builds, customers will also be able to get access to standardized 10G pricing throughout its regional and metro fiber networks via its Carrier Portal, while qualifying orders will get a turn up time of 25 calendar days.

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