As Windstream prepares to emerge from Chapter 11 bankrtupcy, it announced plans for a new, converged optical network spanning the U.S. Windstream will build out its National Converged Optical Network (NCON) with Ciena as a partner providing photonic, coherent optical and software platforms.
Windstream said that the new network will allow it to meet new bandwidth demands driven by remote working and learning, video streaming and cloud computing, and that its NCON “will efficiently scale and dynamically adjust for optimal capacity on any path and avoid potential faults by automatically re-routing traffic based on available network resources.” The new network’s architecture will enable the company to support both future and legacy technologies and components, the telco added, and it “[sets]new economical and reliability baselines.” Windstream will deploy Ciena solutions including its Waveserver 5 compact modular platform with WaveLogic 5 Extreme support for 800G as well as 100GbE and 400 GbE client connectivity “across any distance” over programmable wavelengths up to 800G; Ciena’s 6500 Reconfigurable Line System to expand optical spectrum capacity; Ciena’s Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) domain controller, which will “utilize automation features and operational diagnostics to proactively identify and prevent potential connectivity issues” and predictive analytics for real-time visibility.
The converged optical network, Windstream said, will provide better speeds, service delivery and reliability, with lower equipment and operational costs. The new NCON will connect cities across the country and enable additional capacity between Windstream’s Tier 1, 2 and 3 markets and major U.S. data centers, the company added. Windstream said that it will start deploying and turning up traffic on the new network in the third quarter of this year.
“Our increasingly digital world requires a differentiated network that pushes the boundaries of technology to take the connectivity experience to the next level,” said Buddy Bayer, chief network officer for Windstream. “After extensive review in our quest to innovate and meet growing customer demands, it was clear that Ciena was the best partner to support our nationwide network transformation and ability to adapt to digital disruption. With NCON, Windstream will build an ultra-high capacity, intelligent network that will interoperate with our existing multi-vendor topology.”
The converged network and lower cost structure will be important for the company as it emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Windstream continues to work through its Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, last week announcing that it will offer $1.4 billion in senior first lien notes as part of a series of exit financing transactions. It has also announced its new board members upon exit. Windstream expects to emerge from bankruptcy this month as a privately held company with significantly reduced debt, under a plan that was approved by a bankruptcy court in June. The telco will shed more than $4 billion in debt through the process, or about two-thirds of its overall debt. Part of the plan is also for Windstream to have access to around $2 billion in new capital to “expand 1 Gig Internet service in rural America and maintain its product and software leadership in SD-WAN and UCaaS for enterprise customers.”
“When we emerge, our lenders will become our new owners and strategic partners and are aligned with our long-term strategy and mission to deliver quality and reliable services,” said Tony Thomas, WIndstream’s president and CEO, in a statement when the company’s plan to re-emerge was approved. “As a private company, Windstream will have increased flexibility to invest in our network, accelerate our transformation and return to growth.”
According to its original bankruptcy filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, Windstream said that its largest creditors include U.S. Bank National Association, which held more than than $1 billion in bond debt; AT&T, which was owed more than $49.55 million; Verizon, which was owed around $34.05 million; CenturyLink, owed around $7 million is owed to the company; and Frontier Communications, which was owed around $6.9 million.