Windstream pitches managed spectrum as dark fiber alternative on 400G routes

Windstream rolled out a new Managed Spectrum offering across its nationwide fiber backbone, pitching the service as a sort of virtual dark fiber product. John Nishimoto, Windstream Wholesale’s VP of business development, told Fierce the solution isn’t designed to replace dark fiber, but to offer connectivity in areas where there is limited dark fiber available for sale.

Nishimoto explained that its Managed Spectrum service will provide a light layer for customers on top of Windstream’s dark fiber network, providing bandwidth in either 100GHz or 112.5GHz chunks. That means customers can skip the photonics work usually associated with purchasing dark fiber and go straight to layering in wave and other services on top of the connection.

According to Nishimoto, the idea of managed spectrum isn’t new, but until now it’s been hard to implement due to engineering requirements and the in-depth analytics necessary to make the product work for customers.

“By providing light to a customer, you have to limit their field of view to just the spectrum they bought, not the ancillary spectrum that we would be using for our own customers or network. So that’s part of the trick, being able to manage the light and the power going between out two companies, our customers and our network, to make sure it doesn’t interfere with the rest of the network,” he said.

Using its Intelligent Converged Optical Network (ICON), Windstream is able to do just that and provide layer 0 analytics that give customers deep insights into the routes they lease. The commercial rollout of its Managed Spectrum service follows a trial with Colt Technology Services last year.

“ICON’s innovative architecture makes it possible for us to simultaneously support emerging Spectrum services along with our traditional lit solutions, and that’s a huge advance for the high-bandwidth marketplace,” Windstream Wholesale CRO Joe Scattareggia said in a statement.

Nishimoto noted the Managed Spectrum offer is currently available everywhere Windstream has 400G infrastructure. While it’s currently offered in 100GHz and 112.5GHz blocks, he added the company is working to bring a flexible option to market in 2023 that will allow customers to purchase a base channel of 75GHz and add 12.5GHz chunks on top of that as needed.