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Windstream Wholesale - Always Connected!

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Windstream Wholesale's Buddy Bayer speaks to Capacity about 400G connectivity, the company's latest projects and what lies ahead over the next twelve months.

Q. What unique assets/services does Windstream Wholesale have across its footprint?

Everything starts with the network. Windstream Wholesale has a resilient network with 150,000 fiber route miles, 150 on-net data centers and cable landing stations, over 60,000 fiber lit buildings, and more than 3,000 POPs. All told, we serve almost 1,000 cities nationwide. Our network provides unique flexibility in alternative route designs that has proven to be a great value to many of our customers.

Customer service is a top priority for us. A culture of serving our customer with the highest care and quality drives our desire to innovate and leverage the latest technological advancements to ensure we meet those needs. Windstream has been actively engaged with several different equipment and component manufacturers over the past year developing a technology that transforms and enhances our existing transport network. 

The Nationwide Converged Optical Network (NCON) project will provide advancements to the photonic layer, converge network topologies, lower equipment/operations cost and increase network reliability. NCON will provide C + L band support, a growth path to 1Tb/s wavelengths, more flexibility on signal flow, tuneable spectrum, simultaneous topology support, multi-degree optical switching, low-latency solutions, encryption support and full support of Alien Wavelengths.

Predictive fault finding through intelligent Layer Zero Analytics will result in increased network reliability, enhanced metrics that our customers can access via UI dashboards, and proactive ticketing that will shorten repair times when issues do arise. 

Q. How is Windstream meeting the growing demand for 400G connectivity and what are the benefits of these increased data transfer speeds?

Our customers’ bandwidth requirements are indeed growing rapidly, and Windstream Wholesale is increasing network capacity to meet this demand - especially for our larger hyperscale customers.  We recently announced that we partnered with Infinera and successfully demonstrated 400GbE client-side services with commercially available ultra-efficient 400G-LR8 QSFP-DD compact pluggable interfaces. 

The use of LR8 clients with a single mode fiber interface and a 10-kilometer reach provides an extremely cost-effective solution by enabling us to extend these services directly to our customers’ premises.

Our optical infrastructure is engineered to seamlessly support high-speed optical services using state-of-the-art Flex Grid spectrum and flexible CDC architecture. This enables Windstream to leverage cost-effective 400G today, with 600G and 800G wavelengths in the future.

We are actively talking with customers who want to trial 400G capabilities in their network in anticipation of the next evolution of wave services lining up with the equipment cost economics.

Q. As global telcos increasingly come under strain due to the Covid-19 outbreak, what measures is Windstream Wholesale taking to support its networks and customers?

We prepare year-round for business continuity and disaster recovery scenarios. Our teams maintain Business Continuity Plans as well as a Pandemic Plan and a Crisis Management plan that provide detailed strategies for managing disruptive events such as Covid-19.

Our procedures are designed to minimize the risk, the cost, and the duration of potential disruptions to our business operations and the services we provide to our customers. Because our workforce is geographically dispersed, we are equipped to work effectively from home, ensuring the safety of our employees and supporting the continuity of our operations.

Our network continues to perform well during this time when more people are working and learning from home. Broadband traffic is holding steady at about 30 percent above mid-March levels and remains well within operational tolerances.

We continuously monitor bandwidth usage with tools that analyze network statistics and provide us with performance and capacity reports that help us manage our network.

Windstream uses a highly available and highly resilient network architecture to provide reliable services to our customers. Services are delivered over multiple platforms including a nationwide IP network, our proprietary cloud core architecture and on a local and long-haul fiber network spanning approximately 150,000 miles.

Continuous monitoring helps us ensure that we are meeting our customers’ needs. In fact, we recently helped a large gaming company increase capacity for load balancing and scaling to meet a huge spike in demand.

We were able to turn up the additional capacity in just six days, and both the customer and their end-users are extremely happy with the results.

For some customers, the need for increased capacity is clearly temporary, and we are making it possible for them to do so without paying early termination penalties when they return to more normalized levels of service.

We are also offering customers the opportunity to upgrade existing capacity on DIA and E-Access solutions and to extend internet and transport to data centers at select CLS and border crossings at extremely competitive rates.

Q. What are your predictions for the wholesale telecoms space for the rest of the year? How will Covid-19 impact things?

Predictions are always difficult, and they are even more so with the pandemic under way.  I do believe that customer demand for increased capacity will continue, and I’m proud to say that we are prepared to step up and meet this demand. 

Our teams are agile and flexible helping to customize a solution that meet the specialized requirements of our customers. And we are ready to provide additional IP bandwidth and waves to connect our carrier customers to cloud providers.

Q. Looking ahead, what are Windstream’s Wholesale strategic priorities for next 12 months?

Our strategic priorities remain the same. We will continue expanding our next generation, high-capacity, low-latency routes to a variety of popular markets, including the Pacific Northwest, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.  

As our network continues to expand, we will continue to develop solutions for new International and Domestic customers. We will continue to be dedicated in helping our legacy customers migrate to next-generation technologies and solutions.

Continued enhancements to our automated network-monitoring tools will give our customers more visibility to service-impacting events and accelerate repair times.

As mentioned before, we are dedicated to supporting continued innovative advancements that enable more efficient solutions for our customers. We will continue to be focused on being agile and creating custom solutions that meet our customers’ needs.

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