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.

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