Let’s face it, most of us don’t pay that much attention to what the FCC is doing. They deal in the realms of complex technology policy issues that just don’t seem all that relevant – until they are. There’s an issue before the FCC right now that the biggest telecoms are completely happy to keep ‘under wraps,’ and while that suits them, it has serious consequences for consumers, enterprises and fellow telecom providers like Windstream if their position is adopted. In short, they want the FCC to give incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) a pass when it comes to their obligation to provide unbundled network elements, or UNEs, to competitors at wholesale prices. The result is higher prices being charged for the UNEs that ultimately will be passed on to the end-user customer.
As an ILEC ourselves, it may seem odd to see Windstream on the opposing side of this argument. We’re subject to the same rules as the policy change proponents and are obligated to provide UNEs to companies who want to purchase them from us. The difference is that Windstream sees competition as one of the biggest and most effective drivers of positive change in our industry. The current policy enacted in 1996 has enabled competitors and ILECs alike to make investments in the country’s network and technology infrastructure. These investments have led to the incredible innovations and dramatic growth we’ve seen in the past 20 years since the Act was passed. In many cases, these advances mean more cost-effective solutions as technology gets ‘smarter,’ helping end-users do more with less and more simply. While it’s true that competition isn’t for everyone, Windstream stands firm in the belief that if it means more of what we’ve seen so far, we’re happy to be on the side of ensuring that the market is ready to offer customers more and better choices to meet their telecommunication needs. For more on this, click here.
Tony Thomas is president and CEO of Windstream, a position he has held since December 2014. Thomas has more than 20 years’ experience in the communications industry. He was instrumental in the development of Windstream’s REIT spinoff and served as president of real estate investment trust operations at Windstream from October to December 2014.
Thomas previously served as Windstream’s CFO. During his five-year tenure, he played an integral role in Windstream’s expansion by completing seven acquisitions totaling more than $5.6B in transaction value. Thomas also has deep capital market expertise, having led almost $10B in debt transactions.
Thomas joined Windstream as controller following Windstream’s spinoff from Alltel Corp. He held a variety of financial and operational leadership roles at Alltel after joining the company when it merged with 360 Communications in 1998. Before entering the communications industry, he was with Ernst & Young in their telecom practice.
He holds an MBA from Wake Forest University and a bachelor’s in accountancy from the University of Illinois.
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