Another fixed wireless network operator was bought yesterday, the second in two days to make the news. Windstream has announced the acquisition of Chicago-based Business Only Broadband, a deal I had heard might be in the works.
Business Only Broadband hooks up enterprise locations via fixed wireless across the metro areas of Chicago, New York, New Jersey, and Milwaukee. Fixed wireless can go where fiber can’t, hopping across towers and rooftops rather than tunneling through conduits.
It’s a business that has generally not gotten much attention from the bigger ILECs, which makes Windstream’s move rather interesting. The hybrid ILEC/CLEC says it intends to expand BOB’s footprint into new markets, offering enterprises a new way to connect whether as primary or backup. That makes sense given the limitations of much of Windstream’s more rural infrastructure in helping it take on the enterprise market in the metro areas where its fiber and copper don’t help it so much. And given the expansion of their fiber-to-the-tower efforts in recent years, it dovetails well with the shifting focus of their fiber footprint too.
I wonder if fixed wireless assets of this type will be included in Windstream’s new network REIT. I’m also curious whether Windstream has what it needs now in terms of fixed wireless expertise, or whether they’re going to go shopping for other similar alternative fixed wireless assets within or adjacent to their territory.
The other fixed wireless business M&A move this week was yesterday’s move by GTT to purchase UNSi. UNSi bought Airband a year ago, giving them a fixed wireless last mile across a bunch of markets. But while they will surely get something out of the fixed wireless piece, GTT’s motivation seems primarily about the MPLS/Ethernet reach it gains from the deal. Windstream’s move, on the other hand, is all about the diversity in options having a fixed wireless business brings to the table.
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