WOW! Business challenges AT&T by lighting fiber in 38 Chicago center business district buildings

WOW! Business is extending its fiber to Chicago's Willis Tower, giving occupants access to dedicated Internet access speeds of up to 10 Gbps, threatening local incumbent AT&T (NYSE: T) with an alternative set of services for local business customers.

For its part, AT&T has rolled out fiber to over 1 million buildings, including those in Chicago and other Illinois cities.

This connection follows the purchase of a fiber conduit beneath Wacker Drive. The service provider has completed the initial phase of installing and lighting a high count fiber cable connecting five of 38 planned downtown buildings. 

By installing this new fiber cable, WOW! Business will be able to provide a set of alternative high-speed dedicated internet access, voice and data services.

Besides Willis Tower, which is the former Sears Tower, the other four buildings connected to WOW! Business fiber are Hartford Plaza North, Hartford Plaza South, 303 West Madison and 1 East Wacker Drive.

Set to be completed by mid-2017, WOW! Business will build out fiber into the remaining planned downtown buildings, including the Chicago Board of Trade.

"A year ago we acquired some conduit to get into 38 buildings on Wacker drive in Chicago, and what drove that was a moratorium that was going into place in downtown Chicago" said Mike Harry, senior VP of Business Services for WOW! Business, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "We saw an opportunity to acquire this conduit and as we're building out and doing our expansion in the Chicago market this is a good opportunity to get in and get that conduit and be ready when our fiber was in the downtown area."

Harry added that now we're "at a point now where we have fiber in and we're ready to sell in five of those locations with one of those being the former Sears tower."

Already, this effort has paid off as WOW! Wholesale said it has received one of its first fiber services orders from an unnamed service provider.

Chicago has been a key area of growth and expansion for WOW! Business. Prior to acquiring the conduit, the service provider announced it was adding about 1,200 miles of fiber to provide backhaul for more than 500 cell towers in the Chicago metropolitan area. It also began offering a suite of Ethernet, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking, hosted VoIP and high-speed Internet services to local businesses.

This fiber drive in Chicago comes at an interesting time for WOW! Business and its fellow unit WOW! Wholesale.

Just last week, WOW! Wholesale WOW! Wholesale announced that it will provide access to more commercial buildings in 18 Midwest and Southeast markets, including Augusta, Ga., Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Huntsville, Ala., Knoxville, Tenn., St. Petersburg, Fla., and 11 other metropolitan areas.

For more:
- see the release

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