This past summer was off to a dizzying start as telecommunications providers split on the matter of unbundled network elements (UNEs) pricing. On one side, the big Telcos argued that the FCC should let incumbent providers out of their obligation to provide UNEs at reasonable rates. Moreover, their proposal called for an immediate 15 percent price increase followed by an 18-month transition period. The other side, including Windstream and other providers, argued that these were untenable terms that would hinder competition, innovation and lead to higher costs for businesses and consumers.
Fortunately, both sides saw the futility of a prolonged debate and have worked together to present the FCC with a more balanced approach. The new proposal calls for an extended transition period to February 2021 (vs. 18-months) and no price increase before then.
We all realize that this compromise does not eliminate the bigger issue of how we in the industry will deal with the rapid pace of change. What it does do, however, is give everyone time to take a step back and consider the implications of our decisions on innovation and improving the customer experience, two outcomes sought by all providers. For now, equilibrium has been restored and we can turn our minds and energies back to providing world-class solutions that enable our customers’ transition into the digital age.
You can read more about the agreement reached 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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