RealTime IT News

Energy-Based Broadband Firm Gets Financial Fuel

Fiber optic backbone builder Williams Communications Group Inc. tapped into a $27 million strategic investment from Epoch Networks, one of the nation's largest privately held Internet solutions providers.

The strategic agreement between the two companies includes a rock-solid contract, whereby Epoch will purchase $128 million worth of long-haul network capacity from Williams Communications over the next 20 years.

Williams Communications is set to provide Epoch with data center space in multiple locations throughout the U.S, effectively expanding Epoch's national footprint.

Jeff Stone, Epoch president and chief executive officer, said Epoch plans to use a portion of its new working capital to support an ambitious growth plan for serving big bandwidth to Web hosting clients.

"This alliance represents a significant next step in our growth strategy to deliver advanced hosting and access solutions to emerging businesses nationwide, Stone said.

Epoch plans to utilize the deal as a foundation to improving its customer's delivery of e-business solutions and hosted applications, including bandwidth intensive features like streaming media.

Frank Semple, Williams Communications' president of networking, said Epoch is a blue chip customer in an exploding market segment.

"We are eager to support its continued growth with our network and facilities platform," Semple said. "Epoch's decision is reflective of an accelerating trend toward network outsourcing by companies focused on delivering enhanced technology and customer service solutions."

Epoch's service portfolio includes a variety of value-added services, like as dedicated Web hosting, real-time bandwidth usage reporting, Virtual Private Network services, frame-relay or private line connectivity, load balancing service and backup services, as well as customized Web site monitoring and auditing.

Epoch targets businesses that demand high-speed access and total operational control of their mission critical services. It offers customers one of the most demanding service level agreements in the industry and can not afford to hope it has the capacity to delivery big bandwidth. Epoch must have the ability to suck-up bandwidth on demand.

Williams Communications continues to buildout its carrier-focused fiber-optic network to provide layers of services for transporting data, voice or video content. The Oklahoma-based firm was one of the first energy-based companies to transform its core competency as a pipeline builder, into becoming a top-tier fiber optic network construction company.

One of Williams Communication's chief rivals in the broadband area is fellow energy firm Enron Corp. . The companies are behind a movement to commoditize and trade bandwidth like other natural resources in the U.S.

Both energy-based companies are well positioned should the online marketplace for buying and selling international telecom capacity takeoff.