While doing market research yesterday, I had some time to dive into the proposed EarthLink and Windstream merger that the two companies announced on November 7, 2016. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the boards of both firms but is expected to close in the first half of 2017.
The combination of these two companies is an interesting one in that it combines Windstream’s experience with providing connectivity to small and medium size businesses with Earthlink’s capabilities in this space as well. Earthlink’s early days as an Internet Service Provider has set them up to have relationships with almost all the tier one service providers. The combined company reports that they will have about 145,000 Fiber Route miles in their combined network. The combined companies have several strategic network peering points in the Southeast and the Northeast area of the US.
Earthlink also provides managed services for their SMB customers who have been received well by those customers who use the services. One of the most popular services is Earthlink’s SD-WAN managed service which provides customers the ability to utilize the Internet for some or all their WAN transport, offering a lower cost alternative to expensive leased line circuits or traditional MPLS networks from the large carriers.
As applications continue to move to a cloud delivery model, I expect there will be more merger and acquisition activity in the managed service provider and data center space. Applications are moving to the edge of the network and out of the data center to be closer to the consumers of the application, the end-user. This shift in application architecture puts pressure on the enterprise to utilize products and solutions that are offered by firms such as EarthLink.
I look forward to following these two companies as they combine operations and realize the synergies they outline in their press release. We are right in the middle of the next market transition as it relates to the Internet of Things and the explosion of IP-connected devices in the home and car. The next several years should be exciting as these technologies mature and become more mainstream.