Windstream is using Viavi tech to better monitor dark fiber network

Windstream Wholesale plans to give customers more visibility into its dark fiber network and wavelength services, with the help of Viavi Solutions’ Remote Fiber Test System (RFTS).

Starting in Q1 2024, customers will be able to use Viavi’s RFTS tool within Windstream’s Intelligent Converged Optical Network (ICON) architecture, which provides insights into the company’s regional and long-haul transport networks.

The new centralized system would place Viavi fiber test heads in “key network locations” to identify and locate fiber faults and degradations, enabling early detection of fiber breakers, reduced truck rolls and faster repair times.

John Nishimoto, SVP of business development at Windstream Wholesale, told Fierce the companies expanded their existing relationship into fiber monitoring systems.

Viavi for the past decade has supplied Windstream with “portable test sets, handheld fiber test equipment and centralized network performance test probes.”

Nishimoto said Viavi’s RFTS is for Windstream’s dark fiber and high-bandwidth wave customers, including cable companies, federal government agencies, U.S. and international carriers, Fortune 100 businesses and “hyperscaler/cloud/content providers.”

This isn’t the first time this year Windstream expanded a vendor relationship. In July, the company announced it will use STL’s fiber cables to support both Windstream’s fiber-to-the-home builds and long-haul routes for enterprises.

The difference between the Viavi and STL partnerships, Nishimoto said, is STL is providing the fiber infrastructure for the Windstream Wholesale network builds. Whereas Viavi is supplying “monitoring equipment and systems software.”

Nishimoto added the Viavi tech “focuses on dark fiber and wave services, which traditionally don’t have this type of insight and visibility.”

A key use-case for Viavi’s RFTS is Windstream can automate fiber outage identification, and immediately find out where the outage is located due to GPS location and impacted circuit information.

Windstream will also use Viavi’s technology to expand its Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR) capabilities “on network routes where in-line OTDR is not available.”

An OTDR is an instrument that can measure and create a visual representation of a fiber optic cable route. Viavi’s Koji Okamato told Fierce in March the vendor has sought to create more centralized testing systems so fiber technicians can more easily use OTDRs.

Nishimoto said OTDR will be available “between all major data centers” on Windstream’s long-haul dark fiber network.

Recently, Windstream announced it reached a “major construction milestone” on CanAm2, a 440-mile route that will eventually connect Montreal to New York. This year, it completed the T-Rock Express, which runs from Tulsa to Little Rock to Memphis. The company is also working on a route connecting Raleigh, Savannah and Jacksonville.