Windstream to reach 75,000 rural households with broadband stimulus grants

Windstream told investors that the broadband stimulus awards it received from the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) will enable it to reach 75,000 rural households that up until now have had no broadband service.

Speaking at the Stephens Spring Investment Conference 2014 in New York, Bob Gunderman, senior vice president and treasurer of Windstream, said that it will continue to make progress in reaching its expansion goals.

"Throughout 2014, we expect to reach 75,000 new addressable households in our footprint," Gunderman said. "Through the first quarter, we turned up just under 30,000 households and we expect through Q2 through Q4 we'll make some rateable progress on reaching the 75,000."

Since Windstream will be the only broadband provider in many of these rural areas, it will be able to maintain a dominant market share.

The telco is confident that its broadband stimulus investments will enable it to deliver 10 Mbps speeds and above, far exceeding what these customers can get today.

"In a lot of these locations, all that's really is available is satellite broadband on the stimulus side so we feel really good about our chances to be the only game in town in terms of being a reliable broadband provider," Gunderman said. "We have already good adoption on some of the market share gains in the markets we have turned up so we're optimistic that that will continue."

Besides the broadband stimulus, Windstream has been an advocate of the Connect America Fund-I program, agreeing to take under $90 million in grants.

Similar to the broadband stimulus funding, Windstream expects to be able to deliver up to 10 Mbps and in some locations 24 Mbps and above.

"The combination of both of those projects, together along with what has always been a recurring investment we put into our consumer broadband network, we think the future is very solid to provide more speed, to be competitive against cable competition and be able to insulate what's been a valuable franchise for us," Gunderman said.

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