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Intellifiber thrives within Windstream fold

Connected Planet talks with fiber unit exec Sean Baillie about unit's unique account approach, the low-latency and cloud markets, Ethernet over copper and more

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When Windstream purchased competitive carrier Paetec earlier this year (CP: Windstream's Paetec purchase aimed at bolstering business market focus), it gained an important asset in Paetecís high-speed Intellifiber network. Connected Planet checked in recently with Sean Baillie, who is now general manager for the fiber network unit within Windstream, to discuss the unitís unique account approach, the low-latency and cloud markets, Ethernet over copper and more.

Although the Intellifiber brand is likely to be phased out, we learned that most of the elements that made Intellifiber successful will be retained within Windstream.

On Intellifiberís unique role within Windstream:
At Paetec, we were a support organization for all Paetec field-based sales organizations. They were treated as customers and we supported [whatever] touched the fiber [network]. The idea now is to have a group to do what we have done and support the Windstream sales organization [which is a ] conglomeration of Windstream and Paetec. We will interface with internal teams but be the lead group in development, design and pricing across all Windstream fiber assets, which includes 100,000 route miles, mostly east of the Mississippi.

What weíre adding to what Paetec had is the KDL network that Windstream purchased last year (CP: Windstream maintains acquisition pace with Q-Comm buy). Windstream is a meaningful player. It has a great mix of long-haul and metro assets [to support] on-net services. [Where needed we will] do fiber builds to extend the network to cell towers, enterprise network buildings, you name it.

Our calling card as it relates to the customer experience is fast turnaround for quotes and installation. And our collaborative approach [to meeting whatever] design requirements any customer has.

Weíre charged with putting revenue on the network and developing the capabilities of the network.
On what large enterprise customers are looking for:
Every customer is different. But there are some trends you can pull out of looking across all buying customers. There is a trend away from Sonet and into Ethernet [and toward higher] bandwidth.

Ethernet is driving [the bandwidth demand. Customers are using] more apps that are cloud-based. And there is more video moving across networks for training or whatever.

A ton of data is created and stored by every type of enterprise. They need to access it and itís usually not in their own office buildings but in a data center somewhere. Also mobile devices are creating [backhaul] demand on the wireless carrier side.

Ethernet as a method of access or transport is a fairly simple standards-based [option] for companies to adopt. It direct connects into their LAN architecture so they can get rid of [specialized CPE].

On the low-latency market:
Two years ago that [low-latency] was all the rageóespecially [on routes between] New York, Chicago and D.C. The first driver was the trading houses doing algorithmic trading. But there are only so many of them.

Over the last few years, latency as a requirement is table stakes. Itís something Internet and content folks are all demanding.

On our New York-to-Chicago route we were among the fastest but thatís no longer the case. [Some carriers created] purpose-built routes and took the pole position.

But not everybody needs that. We designed our network to be distinct and diverse from other carriers. There are a lot of businesses that are latency-sensitive but donít need the optimal best latency. They want route diversity with good latency.

On supporting cloud-based IT:
Cloud providers buy from us because of how fast we are at quoting and delivering services and our reach. With 100,000 route miles we can get to many points. Some other networks are not as dense. We have a lot of diversity and unique routes.

On providing fast quotes and turn-up:
We have dedicated teams facing customers [that include] transport engineering and outside plant and construction. Thatís a winner. They live and breathe quoting for the customers and turning [services] up for customers.

On Ethernet over copper:
One area we spent a lot of development time on is Ethernet over copper. We like the reach and available bandwidth. In August we turned up 100 meg over copper service. We were the first to do that. And since then we added 200 meg over copper.

We have a very large Ethernet over copper network, and itís getting a lot of attention in the market. If a customer wants three to 100 meg, itís a great option versus traditional Sonet hand-offs. Itís a very fast growing area.

If [a customer] needs 5 or 10 meg, we wonít want to burn fiber assets to build into that building. We would buy copper from the LEC. As you move up the stack, if there is fiber in the neighborhood and demand is 100 meg or more, we would build fiber.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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