WINfirst Files for Bankruptcy

Denver-based fiber optic networker WINfirst has filed for federal Chapter 11
bankruptcy protection, listing assets exceeding $100 million and debts in
the range of $10 million and $50 million.

Western Integrated Networks (WIN), which provides high-speed Internet, cable
TV and telephone services in some U.S cities, blamed the bankruptcy filing
on the “collapse of the equity and debt financial markets.”

“This is strictly a financial restructure. The operating dynamics of the
business work. We fully expect to weather the financial market conditions
and emerge from Chapter 11 positioned to move forward successfully,”
WINfirst CEO Frank Casazza said.

The company had implemented belt-tightening measures in recent months, which
included layoffs and other budget cuts and officials say the inability to
secure a financing deal with unnamed primary investors forced the company to
seek federal bankruptcy protection.

WINfirst already has contracts to build $500 million fiber-optic networks
for high-speed Internet, phone and cable TV in Dallas, Seattle and
Sacramento, Calif.

In a statement, WINfirst said there would be no service interruptions to
existing customers in Sacramento but there was no information on what would
happen in the other two markets. “WINfirst will finish all construction in
progress and continue to sell and activate new customers on the existing
network,” the company said.

Launched in 1999, the privately-held WINfirst originally planned to build a
fiber-to-the home residential network using fiber-optic technology in
conjunction with Ethernet networking standards that would serve about eight
U.S cities. But, because of the financial struggles, the expansion of that
network was stopped after about 25 percent was completed.

“Immediate steps WINfirst will take include implementing a plan to conserve
capital by scaling back new construction, evaluating all aspects of its
business plan, and actively pursuing new investors,” the company said.

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