Windstream Buys BOB

October 2nd, 2014 by · 8 Comments

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.

TRImage_220 Oct. 02Business 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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Categories: ILECs, PTTs · Mergers and Acquisitions · Wireless

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8 Comments So Far

  • Ben Edmond says:

    I think this is interesting in the context of the strategic direction to shift network to a REIT structure and also upgrade to 100G in key routes, and to now to buy a single market fixed wireless provider. Look forward to hearing more around the rationale and how it fits with their strategy over time.

  • Joe Flacco says:

    I agree, a very confusing purchase. I’m not sure what they do with it..

    • Brent Neader says:

      I can guess one thing they will do with it, mess it up horribly.
      A lot of companies like BOB succeed due to being nimble, competitive, flexible, and having great customer support. I know first hand Windstream really doesn’t qualify for any of those, all of my experiences with them have been horrible.
      The network is so hobbled together from different acquired networks, we once had a routing/latency issue that took somewhere around 4 months to fix. Happy to be off their services.

  • mhammett says:

    If anyone is looking to leave BOB\Windstream, I know a guy… 😉

  • Grant Lewis says:

    I also agree the strategic rationale behind this tuck-in purchase will be interesting to understand. If Windstream were looking to acquire fixed wireless spectrum their are other alternatives. Perhaps this is Randy’s influence – Randy is a super intelligent guy – and using fixed spectrum to provide alternative backhaul solutions can and will add value to large corporate customers looking for augmentative DR/BCP capabilities. But to buy BOB is a head tilting action. I know the CEO of BOB – a great guy, but not a great story telling executive. I can only conclude this is a small acquisition to “test” the waters for future inorganic actions to come.

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